Pretty Food


We dine for sustenance. We dine as a form of social interaction with friends and family. We dine for gastronomical enjoyment. However, these elements are just a part of the total dining experience.

The appearance of our food on the plate also plays a significant role in our overall dining experience. Presentation is everything—some may say it has even risen to an art. Liven up your dining experiences by creating food that not only dazzles the tongue but also looks great on the plate.

Table Settings

Your table setting should frame your gastronomical masterpiece. Place the appropriate utensils, glasses, napkins, plates and other dishes in the correct positions on the table. Invest in a quality set of white plates. Plating food on white dishes will make the colors and texture of your food “pop.” Restaurants use this trick; you can too. Your guests will be impressed before they take their first bite.


Place only edible items on the plate. If you choose to add a garnish, make sure that it complements the food that you are serving. Ingredients used to prepare the meal make ideal garnishes. For instance, a sprig of rosemary is the perfect garnish for a plate of rosemary and garlic potatoes. If you are serving a complicated dish use a simple garnish. Likewise, if the dish is simple, be a bit more extravagant with your garnish. Remember to add garnish to your serving platters as well.

Colors from Nature

Borrow colors from nature to dress your plates. For instance, include a slice of fruit, colorful vegetable or edible flower in your meal presentation. The bright green of asparagus, the festive orange of carrots or the sunny yellow of squash will add a shock of color to any meal. Set your inner artist free and your guests will thank you for it!


Always use odd numbers when arranging food on a plate or serving platter. For instance, place three different food items on a plate instead of four. When adding garnish use one or three pieces, never two or four. Asymmetrical arrangements add more visual interest to your presentation.

Sprinkle and Drizzle

Sprinkle dry or drizzle liquid ingredients on a plate to add that finishing touch. Nuts, powdered sugar and herbs can all be sprinkled on a plate. Purchase a few squeeze bottles to use for drizzling sauce. For instance, add some excitement to a white plate of vanilla ice cream by dotting the plate with chocolate sauce or drizzling the sauce over the top of the ice cream.

Put your own personal stamp on your next meal. Your creativity and attention to detail will heighten the visual experience and transform great taste into a great dining experience.

About the Author

Lisa Lefner is president of Urban Chef, Inc., a gourmet lifestyle company serving the Chicagoland area.

Contact her at  312-213-6648, or


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