ALDI Chef’s Corner: It’s All in the Details

November 23, 2016 – Hello, Chef Scott here from the ALDI Test Kitchen! Today’s blog is about helping you turn your average plate of food into an exquisite culinary masterpiece with these four tips and tricks I’ve picked up on my culinary journey. They always say you eat with your eyes first, so remember, “Presentation, presentation, presentation!”

Well Isn’t That OddBruschetta with crusty bread, basil, and tomatoes.
Have you ever wondered why when you order an appetizer at a restaurant, such as shrimp cocktail, or crab cakes, they always come in sets of 3, 5 or 7? Well, that’s because plates with odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and give an instant feeling of balance. A good rule for when you’re plating appetizers or finger foods is to try to plate with odd numbers. Of course this can’t always be achieved, but when it can, it’s a quick and easy way to make your plates look instantly more inviting.

Spaghetti and meatballs in a white bowl.The Height of Ambition
As with life in general, always aim for the top when plating our delicious culinary creations. Adding height to your plate can make your food more dynamic. It can be as simple as stacking two pieces of cornbread, or mounding your pasta and placing a meatball on top. The bottom line is, try to elevate what’s on your plate by any means necessary.

Seafood boil with lobster, mussels, salmon, potatoes and corn.Color Me Surprised!
Variety is the spice of life, and color is the flavor. When trying to design a beautiful plate, be sure to have a multitude of colors available for the eye to enjoy. There is almost nothing more unappealing than seeing a blob of bland mono-colored food slapped onto the plate in front of you. Remember, you’re impressing guests with your delectable cuisine, not serving mystery food.

Pasta dish with creamy sauce and basil garnish.It Adds a Little Something (Don’t you think?)
Garnishing is a surefire way to take your plate to the next level. It’s simple, it’s easy and it makes even the blandest food pop off the plate. That’s not to say that garnishing is foolproof. Two things you should never do while garnishing: 1. If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on the plate. Inedible garnish is definitely out. Your guests should be able to eat anything that is put on the plate. 2. If an ingredient is not found anywhere in the main dish, again, don’t put it on the plate. Using blueberries to garnish a plate of strawberry tarts really doesn’t make a lot of sense. As long as you stay away from these two don’ts there’s nothing you can’t do with a good garnish!

So there you have it, four tips that can help lead to more dynamic and beautifully-plated dishes every time. Of course, all rules are meant to be broken and while these tips can be useful they should never impede your own personal style or creativity. Remember, ultimately it’s your food, so as long as you’re having fun with it, nothing else matters.

Share your favorite plating and garnishing techniques in the comments below!

Chef ScottChef Scott joined ALDI in 2013 after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. He has over 6 years of culinary experience which includes restaurant expertise, recipe development and teaching culinary skills. While in school, he enriched his education by working for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Discovery Center making confections and learning techniques in chocolate crafting. He specializes in traditional French and Japanese cuisines, fusing both into new and exciting flavors. Inspired by his love of culinary fusion, Chef Scott makes a habit of creating every holiday meal for his family and friends, documenting his ideas along the way.

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