Food Service & Nutrition - Volume 1 No.2 - 20
The reality in healthcare is that making food look like a work
of art is not always a practical possibility so chefs must be
more creative with less. Healthcare chefs may have limited
ingredients, space or time with which they are able to "create
visual appeal" but that does not mean that it is not possible
nor should be attempted.
is not acceptable to overload the plate.
If you have a border or an edge to the
serving vessel, do not hide it with sauces
or food. The visual border will help to
pull the eye to the centre of the plate.
The primary focus should be the main
component - often the protein. If you think
of the plate as a clock, the main item at
3-9 o'clock directly in front of the patient
or resident, with the starch at 9-11 and the
side or vegetable at 1-3 . This visual guide
also goes a long way to each plate being
representative of the next.
Neatness always counts regardless of
how busy or in what type of foodservice setting you work and is the most
important rule in the art of plating. If
a plate looks as though it was thrown
together, it will not be well received.
Sauces are not reserved for only on
top of a protein or a starch. Sauces and
gravies work well visually under food as
well or can be dotted next to the food in
order to draw the attention. Spoons or
forks can be used to drizzle gravies or
sauces. Simple patterns can be created
by dragging a knife through opposing
colours of sauce. Squeeze bottles can be
a useful tool in creating an appetizing
swirl of salad dressing.
Shapes should vary and heights altered
where possible. Cakes, for example, do
not always have to be cut square. Benefit
can be found by cutting the basic square
in half diagonally and set point up for
variety to the eye. It will also serve to
bring a new height to the dish so that
everything is not at the same level.
Piping bags can be used for fruit, vegetable or starch mashes to create visual
appeal very quickly and are adaptable to
hot and cold foods. Puddings and desserts
can also be piped instead of scooped to
add a visual texture to soft foods without actually changing it. Puddings piped
with whipped topping in the bag at the
same time add a swirl effect and an
Colours should be contrasting where
possible and set a meal apart from the
ordinary. Contrasting colours are defined
as two colours from different segments
of the colour wheel. For example green is
from the cool half of the colour wheel and
red from the warm - they are contrasting
colours. Where possible this should be
taken into consideration. A flat colourless
meal will be much less appealing than one
which is eye catching with colour.
Tracey Christensen is currently the Provincial Culinary
Manager for Alberta Health
Services. She is a red seal
chef and has worked in both
institutional and private sector kitchens. She
is the AB rep for CSNM and a CNM.
CA N A D I A N S O C I E T Y O F N U T R I T I O N M A N AG E M E N T