The Importance of Food Presentation for Baking and Pastry Chefs
We've all done it. We've painstakingly prepared a dessert only to have it emerge from the oven looking like a failed 8th grade science project. Well, that doesn't matter, we think, As long as it tastes good. When cooking for yourself, you're probably right. But when you're a baking and pastry arts chef, presentation stands for a lot more than you'd think.
How Important is Presentation in Culinary Arts?
You might think that presentation, art of modifying, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal, is a superfluous extra important to only the most meticulous of diners. The truth is there is an entire psychology behind food that can affect your patron's experiences. So how important is presentation in culinary arts? Important.
What does Psychology have to do with Food?
In a psychology class a professor holds up what looks like a dirty diaper and explains to the students what's in the diaper is chocolate pudding. They then ask if any students want to taste the chocolate pudding. No one in the classroom moves.
Cognitively, the students know that the diaper is clean and there is chocolate pudding smeared on it. But the presentation is so stomach churning that even knowing this, no one is willing to try it. This is an extreme example, but it goes to show how little we realize food is affecting us psychologically.
What are some other Psychological Impacts on Food?
Beyond diapers, there are a great deal of other ways we are affected by food without even realizing it. For example, you open your own bakery and name your signature dessert "Red Velvet Cake". Did you know if you named it something like Exquisite Red Velvet Crème Supreme Delight, your patrons will actually believe it to be more delicious? Even if it's the same recipe and execution.
Not only the name of the meal, but other factors in play as well. Everything from the lighting to the actual plate you up the dish on has importance in constructing the dining experience. That's right, even the plates need to lend themselves to the mood and atmosphere.
For example, your red velvet dessert? It would be probably be best served on white round plates, as people tend to indicate it enhances sweet flavors in food. Meanwhile, if you're serving up a meat pie for dessert, you might want to serve it on a black, angular plate to bring out the savory notes.
Wait, Why Would Plate Shape have an Impact on the Taste of Food?
It might be difficult to see the connection between a white round plate and thinking food tastes sweeter and it definitely is. Researchers are baffled as to why this is true as well. Although they don't quite understand the reasons why this work, there's plenty of evidence to support that it does. Research is still being conducted, although there are several guesses as to why this response is taking place.
How can I Improve my Food Presentation Skills?
Food presentation is a lot like graphic design. You need to balance color, texture, and proportions, among other elements, to create a cohesive and appetizing final product. Improving your understanding of these elements can help to plate better dishes and create a more enjoyable experience for your customers. Remember, you can bake a torte that tastes like a million dollars, but no one is going to want to eat it if it's presented in a diaper.
Are you fascinated by food psychology and want to learn more about how to create and present beautiful plates to hungry guests? If you're interested in earning a Diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts, consider ECPI University's Culinary Institute of Virginia. With an accelerated schedule and year-round classes you could earn your diploma in as little as 10 months. For more information about this opportunity, contact a friendly admissions advisor today.
It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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