Last Saturday we talked about curating art and design ideas that inspire you, but how do you sharpen your connection to that inspiration? In a profession in which we learn largely by seeing and doing, this is a crucial skills for us. For example, if you had to study the simple plate above with a beginner’s mind, what would you look to learn? Or if you had to teach someone to appreciate plating design, what guidance would you give them?

The visual information might come to you all at once, but it’s made up of multiple layers: 

  1. Maybe the first thing you notice is the overall composition of the plate. Where are the majority of the elements laid out – in the centre, to a side, along the periphery?
  2. What to look out for next are the volumes, the shapes, the colours
  3. You can add this layer that only a chef can: imagine tastes, textures and flavour contrasts. The sensory experience that comes from eating the food
  4. You can get more specific and observe visual contrasts, relationships between the various elements (how the gravy ties all the other elements, etc.) and hierarchies (how the protein dominates not only in portion size, but also how it is built up on the plate)
  5. Last of all, don’t forget to contemplate the white space

So, whether it’s art or design or food, it’s as much about appreciating the essence of something as much as the nuances.

What’s on the plate?

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