Ware and placement.

I make myself a meal every few days at work that is a little bit better than normal (sandwiches, salads, etc) and also to practice my creativity a little bit. Sometimes I’m lazy and try what I already know is easy. I noticed tonight that I have been subconsciously having composed dishes that emulated, or duplicated dishes I already know work in many ways. Texture, colour, and flavor.

I feel it will be a while before I develop my own style. Sometimes, when I cook for my roommates or friends, I rely on classic French and Italian basics (or modern versions thereof) to boost flavor and color. Butter, stocks, reductions of stocks. Once and a while I try out something Asian, Japanese dishes usually. Every so often I succeed at Japanese cuisine, but mostly I fall flat of what I know it should taste like.

So I wondered to myself, what makes you think that a dish will work? There’s only a few innovators in plating, and they are far out of most peoples’s reach, distance and price wise. It’s hard to find a dish that looks completely different that anything else. I don’t know if I can ever find an answer to that, probably cause there isn’t. I guess the idea is just to make it look like it should. Everyone has probably already thought of every conventional plating arrangement, just like we’ve already heard every rock riff every invented.

I think about this because I forget how new I am at this. I still have a lot to learn, even if it is something as simple as knowing how to make food look how it should.

~ by getbackwards on February 26, 2010.

4 Responses to “Ware and placement.”

  1. cooks live on sandwiches in various forms. Easy to eat, good hot or cold, no utensils required, no plate even sometimes. Paper towel is always handy! If you get to eat half now and half in three hours, it’s almost as good. They travel well, so you can get the hell out and still eat dinner on the way home.

    It’s tough to break out of the starch, veg, protein, sauce tower. Try to accentuate the details in the ingredient – nice grill marks, crispy skin, shiny sauce, clean (!!) plate, use a light touch, especially with anything coming out of a squirt bottle. Tight, clean, lean, simple, straightforward. Let the ingredients speak for themselves. Keep garnishing simple – nice pea shoot, watercress, black radish slice, flowering thyme or rosemary, bronze fennel – just a little of one thing.

    My old boss had a “10% rule” which I follow as often as I remember – 10% less food on the plate, and 10% better cleaning.

  2. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for checking out my blog. You probably don’t remember me, but the time I spent bussing at the Marina has influenced my cooking to this day (sounds weird, but it’s true).

    You’re right about the tower, though. I’ve read elsewhere about restaurants that focus mainly on vegetables, and although I love eating meat the concept really intrigues me. It seems like most of restaurants follow the “tower” model, and the vegetable dish is the “vegetarian/vegan” option, and relegated to inferior status. I guess it’s hard to break the mold.

  3. Thought I left another comment last night, strange. Anyways,

    If you are Teg then I remember you for sure. I had heard you were working in a kitchen, which seemed really strange because I had no idea you were interested in cooking at all.

    I think the way to break the mold is to 1) make your vegetarian dish good and 2) don’t advertise that it’s vegetarian. When someone asks what your vegetarian options are, there you have it. If no one asks, don’t throw it in their face. Non-vegetarians can be a moody lot and love the backlash! I’ve got a veggie option right now that is very popular on the menu, clearly selling to non-veggies. I’ve seen this in the past, too. If you make that item sound good and taste good, if everything works together, then it doesn’t matter to most people if there’s meat or not. The reason vegetarians feel segregated is because many restaurants segregate them! Relegated to pasta, or a side of starch with a side of buttered vegetables and maybe some salad. Not that there’s anything wrong with eating that, just that it’s nice to have a properly composed plate sometimes, too.

    you are right about the tower model. It’s pretty natural to plate food like that I think. Starch, veg, protein, sauce, garnish. Wash, rinse and repeat. It’s stable for the runner, it’s logical for the cook, and it forces the diner to try all the flavours together. I still see people, grown up people, who come to the Marina (a nice restaurant) and ask that none of their food be touching on the plate. C’mon, live a little! Give the chef and cooks some credit, and just trust.

    I’m trying to move away from the tower model, towards something I like to call the “trifecta”. I’ll let you know how that goes…

  4. Mmmmmmmgood I love the sound of that kind of food. Good job

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