Thursday, October 11, 2012

Presentation Matters (...sorta)

I can relate.

Whenever I cook for someone new, I'm nervous.  Presentation is hardly at the top of my list. Remembering her food allergies.... cleaning my bathroom... finding suitable music... not burning myself.... ALL TAKE PRIORITY OVER PRESENTATION!

I know I'm not along here. I mean, guest blogger Katie completely forgot about her smoldering bread in the oven! I doubt she gave a fuck about whether or not the asparagus was perfectly angled at 47 degrees due west of the steak. 

HOWEVER, if you're one of the lucky few that's made it past the gauntlet of things to really remember, feel free to give a little love to presentation. I've outlined how to do it below.

Keys to Presentation Love:

1.  Provide a mixture of color. A while back I wrote a Tip of the Day about avoiding a monochromatic dish. What do I mean? For example check out the two pictures below:
  • Dish 1: Chicken penne pasta with pan-fried tomatoes, fresh Parmesan cheese, and homemade pesto
  • Dish 2: Cipollini pasta with wild caught shrimp served over a homemade seafood broth
  • Dish 1 looks much better, right? Colorful. Vibrant. (Even though the cipollini pasta dish tasted better)

Wow, that is some sexy looking pasta.
What is this UPS uniform day?!? Where's the color?
2. Taking a note from Nordic design, I'm a big fan of simplicity and clean lines. A clean white plate or solid black bowl - Let the food be the star, not the plate.

I bet you forgot about the white plate.
3. Sit at the table (turn off the TV) and attempt to make a decent place setting. You don't have to borrow family heirloom china from Mrs. Robinson in Apt 732 but set the table. Napkins (NO, not paper towels...what are you, 19?), water glasses, wine glasses, silverware - you get the idea.

4. Soft lighting - There's a reason photographers prefer to shoot on cloudy days rather than mid-day with a harsh, overhead sun. Soft lighting, candles, or floor lighting makes everyone and everything look better. If you haven't installed that $5 dimmer light switch yet, floor lighting is much more appealing to the eyes than overhead lights. 

    On Chopped, they'll ax you if you forget to zigzag sauce across the plate. And if you're competing on Iron Chef, presentation is worth a third of your final score. These four simple pointers will help you with presentation at Chez Vous. So if you can throw in some presentation love, go for it. Otherwise, don't sweat it. You're already cooking for her and she's already loving that.

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