OK, to be fair that’s over simplifying matters, but it is one of the tools chef’s use to boost the visual appeal of your food.
You may not realize this, but how your food looks is just as important as how it tastes. Think of your favourite meal. Got it? Now picture it after a trip through the blender. It’s the same thing, but a whole lot less appealing.
Magazines have all sorts of tricks up their sleeve to make foods look better. Granted some of it is added after the photo is taken. Steam is actually quite easy to add this way. But there are other techniques that can be done, such as soft lighting, a dark background and meticulously adding sauces with an eyedropper. Pictures in food magazines sometimes border on art more than actual food.
To make your food go from tasty to Wow! at home though isn’t too hard.
Probably the easiest is the dishes you use. For the picture you see here, I could just as easily poured the sauce over the eggrolls. Instead I used a saucer I got from my grandmother as a housewarming gift. Then arrange the finished egg rolls around the dish and you have a good looking meal.
Remember the rule growing up not to play with your food? Ignore tit. Arranging your food is an easy way to make your food look better. French toast stacked against another slice looks so much better than two pieces plopped on your plate. Add a few blueberries and a dollop of whipped cream and see how much better it looks. You don’t need to be a perfectionist. In fact oddities are half the fun.
Colours, especially contrasting ones, can be fun too. You could make something using all ingredients of the same colour family, say whites. However it will look very boring when it hits your plate. Add something red or green to it though, like peppers, and everything pops out.
For a sauce or soup, try a garnish. A thick soup can hold up a few nuts or a small pile of herbs on its surface, which breaks up the monotone colour of the soup. You can sprinkle cocoa and toasted almonds on top of vanilla pudding for a visual feast as well.
Lastly, think about patterns. Almost every sandwich at a restaurant is either cut into triangles or at an angle if it’s something like a wrap. The angle looks better to our eye, and it shows off more filling. Even cutting your vegetables at an angle can make them more interesting once they hit your plate.
There is more that goes into restaurant food than just how it looks of course, but when you are eating in it can be easy to give just a little bit of that special flair to your food.
So, how do you use that piece of PVC piping I mentioned earlier? Spray the inside with a little non-stick spray and place it on your plate (you can use a biscuit cutter as well.) Put in something you can shape, mashed potatoes, rice, etc., and lift. You now have a beautifully round base for your meal. On top of that you can place a small piece of chicken or fish, a few greens and a nice garnish of fresh herbs.