10 Tips for Plating
Try these clever techniques from chefs and researchers to introduce moderation to your menu
1. Experiment with plate size to create a perception of visual abundance.
2. Make use of wide rims to frame the dish.1
3. Slice protein and fan pieces across plate.
4. Choose elongated, thinner cuts which may make items appear larger.
5. Use sauces to create visual value around the edges of the plate, or pour sauce into a small ramekin to emphasize its presence and value.
6. Create visual interest with dark or bright sauces on white plates.
7. Arrange leafy vegetables to take up space on the plate.
8. Instead of one large piece of protein, offer two or more smaller pieces. Multiple items tend to increase the perceived amount of food more than overall size.
9. Decrease the proportion of energy-dense items (e.g. meat, heavy sauces, starches) and increase the proportion of vegetables.
10. Use firmer textures since the more time food spends in the mouth (“oral exposure”) the more it increases satiety and satisfaction.
Plating to Create Visual Value
Mastering your Menu
While guests inevitably make their own choice of what to eat and drink, what they order is heavily influenced by the layout of your menu. The menu can be constructed to inform, guide and encourage diners toward smaller portion sizes and nutritious options. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Offer choices: smaller portions, half portions, kids’ portions, and alternative side dishes.
- Promote sampling, sharing and/or tapas menus for the whole table to enjoy.
- Inform guests by providing simple and transparent nutritional information on the menu.
- Promote healthier items such as vegetable sides or salad by highlighting certain menu items: Chef’s recommended pairing, Chef’s choice, Signature item, etc.
A sense of connection
The idea of sharing plays into something else diners crave while eating out: a social connection. A full 69 percent of consumers report that dining with friends contributes to a fun, exciting restaurant experience. Small plates, samplers, and sharable items can encourage this kind of interactive meal while serving up smaller portion sizes.
A culinary experience
These days, some diners are more interested in exploring the menu than filling their stomachs. One study showed that 70 percent of customers order shareable meals so they can try more than one item on the menu.5 Offering smaller portion sizes allows them to indulge without overeating. To meet evolving expectations, some restaurants are offering alternative portion sizes, including “bites,” samplers, and small plates.
At your service
To promote quality of food over quantity, train service staff to highlight key attributes of each meal. For example, ask them to call attention to specific flavours and textures, or the provenance of special ingredients—whether local or exotic.