Plate Garnishing Tips for Special Occasions

By Natalie Gitt
Plate Garnishing Tips for Special Occasions

When it comes to food plating for special occasions, we often see eye-popping colors and intricately placed garnishes on smaller portions.

Making a meal visually appealing has some level of importance in everyday life, but especially when it comes to more significant events. You don't need to be a chef or set aside a lot of time to plate and garnish a dish like a pro.

At Fable, our simple but elegant designs make an excellent backdrop to any plate of food. Since we don't use bold colors, our dinnerware won't distract from your creative platting.

We are going to provide a little inspiration for how to dress up plates of food with the perfect garnishes. With a few tips and tricks, you'll be able to take any plate of food to the next level for those special occasions.

Choosing Your Dinnerware

Before you can begin plating and garnishing, you have to select the perfect dinnerware for your meal.

Formal dinnerware often means place settings with multiple pieces. There are usually five pieces in a formal setting: a dinner plate, smaller plate, bread plate, soup bowl, and mug. These place settings also traditionally have a number of different flatware pieces, a water glass, and a wine glass.

These pieces come in a variety of different materials as well. There's stoneware, porcelain, melamine, bone china, and earthenware.

  • Bone China Bone China is traditionally the most expensive out of all of them since it is made with Bone ash. It Is durable, lightweight, and chip resistant. Many people use bone china for special occasions.
  • Earthenware Earthenware is one of the oldest forms of dinnerware. It is a heavy product and can't usually withstand unexpected temperature changes, like high microwave settings.
  • Porcelain Porcelain is made from white clay and has a nonporous surface. It is durable thanks to its high firing temperatures. Porcelain dinnerware is usually oven-safe and can also be put in the microwave without problems.
  • Melamine Melamine is essentially plastic dinnerware. These dishes are shatterproof, making them the perfect dinnerware for outdoor use. However, you can not use melamine in the oven or microwave. Most pieces are dishwasher-safe, though.
  • Stoneware Stoneware is made from various types of clay and has a finishing glaze that makes it nonporous. Stoneware sets are generally more durable than earthenware but still can be affected by drastic temperature changes. Also, if you purchase pieces with hand-painted designs, you may have to hand wash them, too. At Fable, our stoneware is dishwasher and microwave safe.

Different Types of Garnishes

Garnishing a dish takes some forethought and planning. It cannot, and should not, be just an afterthought. The goal is to add elements that will complement the food.

You are trying to add contrast to the dish using color or texture. The other goal is to make it more visually appealing. The garnish is meant to enhance what is already there and not take away from it. If you are unsure about a garnish, ask yourself if you would like to eat it in the same bite as the meal you're placing it on.

A garnish can be many different things like spices, herbs, edible flowers, sauces, creams, or citrus zest. You can add a garnish to every course, including dessert, like chocolate shavings.

Another example is adding a fresh strawberry slice on top of strawberry sorbet. Don't be afraid to get creative if you think it will enhance the dish. Think about an ingredient in the meal that could make a good garnish, so your guests know what flavor to expect. Try not to just throw a random herb or lettuce leaf on the plate that doesn't enhance the meal in any way.

Here are a few garnishing techniques and rules to follow for finishing any dish like a pro.

  • Edible Garnishes No matter what garnish you are planning on using, the first rule is that it should always be edible. Don't use a flower from your garden because it looks pretty if you can't eat it. (That said, there are lots of flowers you can eat, so do your research in advance.)
  • Place Intentionally Try to avoid scattering the garnish aimlessly or throwing a pile of the garnish in the corner of the plate. Instead, thoughtfully place it on the meal to add color and texture. For example, place a few basil leaves in the center of an Italian pasta dish or a swirl of cream and a sprig of parsley on top of the soup.
  • Garnishes to Avoid Try not to use unappetizing garnishes like big pieces of citrus, raw kale, and anything with an unappealing smell. Also, stay away from garnishes that are time-consuming and can't be applied relatively quickly.

Plating Tips And Tricks

When you put thought into plating as well as garnishes, your meal will appeal to everyone's senses of sight, smell and taste. Plating the meal properly is just as important as garnishing it. It's all about the special touches that can enhance already delicious food.

You should consider the type of occasion when plating the meal. If you are serving a festive holiday meal, you can have fun with the plating and keep it on the casual side. Or, if it is a formal dinner party or gathering, consider going for a more elegant feel. Regardless of the occasion, try not to get too carried away and opt to keep it simple.

Here are a few plating rules to remember:

  • Less is More — Try not to overcrowd the plate with too many elements. Think about how you can highlight the main component of the meal, not take away from it.

    If you over-decorate the plate or add too many supporting elements, it can be unclear what the main element of the dish is. To avoid this, spread out the sauce or finely chop vegetables that belong in the background.
  • Rule of Thirds — A way to always follow the less is more tip is to use the rule of thirds. This rule states that no more than two-thirds of the plate is covered with the meal. You can even place the food on either the left or right side of the plate rather than in the center. Experiment to see what looks best to you.
  • Using Color — Color can add contrast and fun to your dish. You can use brightly colored fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and lemons. You can add color through sauces, like a vibrate herb dressing over otherwise brown meat. Think about complementary colors that can make your dish look even more appealing.
  • Contrasting Textures — By adding texture to your dish, you can add depth and dimension. Think about what kinds of soft, silky, crunchy, and firm textures you can add to the meal. For example, a smooth puree with a crunchy element, like nuts, can enhance the dish. Different textures add just a bit more interest to any plate.

Importance Of The Right Tools

There are a number of handy kitchen tools that can help when applying garnishes to a dish. If you entertain a lot, consider adding one or two to make life a little easier.

Here are helpful tools you may need to put the finishing touches on your next culinary masterpiece.

  • Box Grater — You can grate everything from cheese to chocolate to vegetables. It is an excellent tool when turning different elements into the perfect garnish.
  • Citrus Zester — You can use a citrus zester for more than just creating citrus strips. You can also shave vegetables like carrot strips that can make an excellent garnish.
  • Melon Baller — You can use a melon baller to turn various foods into fun balls like butter, cheese, or passion fruit.
  • Sieve — A sieve works perfectly for sifting powdery ingredients like powdered sugar or cocoa powder onto different desserts.
  • Skewers — A few skewers in any kitchen can come in handy. You can place many different foods on them or use them to swirl ingredients together, like cream in pumpkin soup.
  • Slicer — Use for most any fruits or veggies or hard cheeses. Top creamy butternut squash risotto with broad slices of Parmesan and crispy fried sage leaves.
  • Squeeze Bottle — You can use a squeeze bottle for the precise application of sauces and purees. You can create dots, drizzles, or zig zags on the plate for a fun design.
  • Tweezers If you are using herbs or delicate garnishes, tweezers can be very helpful. They can perfectly place anything exactly where you want it.

Adding Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice to Special Occasions

When plating food for a special occasion adding garnishes is a must. Garnishing a dish can be just the thing to take a meal from decently appealing to spectacular.

By using a number of simple helpful tips and tricks, your dishes can look like a professional chef plated them. Remember that less is more, the rule of thirds, and play with different colors and textures.

At Fable, our simple designs make the perfect backdrop for any meal for any occasion.


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