Creatvity un­leashed on a plate! -By Aruna Rathod

Food styling makes an ap­petis­ing dish ap­pear artis­tic.

The Luxury Collection - - Contents - -By Aruna Rathod

The best com­pli­ment for chefs is when a dish is first ap­pre­ci­ated for its ‘looks’ with an ex­cla­ma­tion:“how could I even think of eat­ing it, it looked so beau­ti­ful that I just kept star­ing at the dish!”

Vi­jayan Gan­gad­ha­ran, Gen­eral Man­ager, Four Points By Sher­a­ton, Pune states that food styling is cre­ativ­ity un­leashed. “It could be truf­fle samosas in the case of fu­sion of flavours and tex­tures, or us­ing liq­uid ni­tro­gen used to freeze in­gre­di­ents (such as berries, cit­rus, herbs, and honey). Foam, air and bub­bles are a great way of adding a molec­u­lar touch to any cock­tail. For in­stance, in case of a straw­berry mar­tini, you can add ‘co­rian­der’ in the form of a ni­tro­gen bub­ble, so one has the fra­grance of the co­rian­der and the taste with­out the real co­rian­der leaf!.” Ni­tro­gen is used to make some in­gre­di­ents so cold and brit­tle that they can be bro­ken into tiny pieces, or even crushed into a pow­der (cur­rently very trendy at haute cui­sine spots).wel­come to the world of styling – vis­ually, with flavour and taste!

Plat­ing adds a WOW fac­tor to food. Chef Robin Ba­tra, Ex­ec­u­tive Sous Chef at Tri­dent, Ban­dra Kurla, Mum­bai ob­serves, “Plat­ing gives a new di­men­sion to the food be­ing served as it is said that we al­ways eat with our eyes. Plat­ing cre­ates in­ter­est in food and the food has to look the best with­out any com­pro­mise on the au­then­tic taste.”

While the sense of sight in­flu­ences our per­cep­tion of food, Chef Mayank Kul­shreshtha, Ex­ec­u­tive Chef – ITC Maratha says, “The se­cret of de­liv­er­ing de­lec­ta­ble food is the way in which it is pre­sented. Pre­sent­ing food in an aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing man­ner en­hances the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence of a dish and also el­e­vates the diner’s rat­ing of the flavour of the dish.” While Euro­pean cui­sine has al­ways been pre­sented well, In­dian cui­sine, pop­u­lar the world over for its taste and va­ri­ety, is al­most there. “With In­dian food be­com­ing global and its taste be­ing ac­cepted by most na­tion­al­i­ties and coun­tries, it was but nat­u­ral that it has to be pre­sented well,” says Ba­tra, adding that with the ad­vance­ment of so­cial me­dia, cook­ing

shows brought in the con­cept where In­dian food started to be plated like western food. The ad­van­tage of In­dian cui­sine is the va­ri­ety of in­gre­di­ents and con­cepts, mak­ing it easy to be plated and pre­sented.

Ba­sics of styling

Once upon a time, maybe 10 years ago, plat­ing food meant a fixed place for the meat, starch and ac­com­pa­ni­ment, with­out any rea­son for it. “Modern con­cepts of plat­ing do not fol­low any rules. Rus­tic, col­or­ful, em­pha­sis on taste and tex­ture, nu­tri­tion and eye ap­peal is what it’s all about. It’s im­por­tant that plat­ing takes the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from good to ‘In­cred­i­ble! Spec­tac­u­lar! Un­for­get­table,” says Chef Ba­tra.

Chef Mayank Kul­shreshtha has a few ba­sics for food styling. “Layer the food and play with con­trast­ing col­ors and tex­tures to in­crease its vis­ual ap­peal. Make sure that tex­ture and colour of the in­gre­di­ents go hand in hand,” he ad­vises. Other point­ers he adds are: En­sure the gar­nish har­mo­nizes with the dish; Limit por­tion sizes. Ide­ally, fill about two thirds of each plate with food; Con­ve­nience of eat­ing should be taken into ac­count while plat­ing the dish and au­then­tic taste and fla­vors must be main­tained.

Plat­ing equip­ment

Styling is an art, hence it can be en­hanced with ei­ther the food it­self or colours, tex­tures and place­ment. “I would say one doesn’t re­quire elab­o­rate equip­ment but ex­cel­lent crock­ery - plates to small and big cut­ters, spe­cial spoons to pour sauces, squeeze bot­tles to make sauces flow on plates, smok­ing guns to add smoke to dishes, siphons guns to make foams are re­quired,” says Ba­tra.

Kul­shreshtha is of the opin­ion that be­sides the dif­fer­ent types of plates, brushes, spat­u­las, tweez­ers, squeeze bot­tles, etc. the fi­nal prod­uct is based on the qual­ity of the in­gre­di­ents and the chef’s in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity. Gan­gad­ha­ran adds that it could be any equip­ment that catches the fancy of the chef. “Knives, skew­ers, brushes, tweez­ers, pa­per tow­ers, glyc­er­ine – some are used in prepa­ra­tion for the dish and some are used for food photography.”

To put it sim­ply, food styling is a culi­nary ex­per­i­ment with un­con­ven­tional in­gre­di­ents for an art­ful dis­play.

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