How to Improve Your Plating Skills with Chef Hervé Malivert
Chef Hervé Malivert’s enthusiasm for the kitchen began at a young age and his love & experience with plating journeys back decades. Enjoying photography as his favorite hobby, Chef Hervé has an eye for creating beautifully intricate dishes which he shares with his followers on Instagram (check him out on Instagram @chef_herve_malivert).
From kitchens across the globe, to the kitchens of ICC, Chef Hervé has always understood that plating has an important “visual effect” for guests and students. It will not change the taste of your dish or the understanding that the student has, but it will change the first impression and set them up for a flawless meal or lesson. Think about looking at two pictures of the Caribbean, one has a picture perfect blue sky, and the other is during a hurricane. Which picture would inspire you to venture to the Caribbean? It is the same with dining, eating, and learning.
If you do not innately have an artistic eye for plating, it is possible to train yourself and improve with time. Most chefs are not born with an immediate knowledge of how to create an artistic dish. It takes years of precision, practice, and patience, so we joined ICC’s resident Master-of-Plating in the kitchen to get a behind-the-scenes look at his process.
Read on to find out Chef’s tips to improve your plating:
- Learn how to cook and properly combine flavors together. A beautiful plating will mean nothing if the food doesn’t taste good or go well together.
- Knife skills, knife skills, knife skills! The first step of presentation is symmetry and accuracy.
- The focal point of the dish is the item which draws your attention. Be aware of what your eye will notice first, avoid negative space, add some elevation to give your dish depth, and of course be mindful of the plate itself.
- A well designed plate will have a sense of balance. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean symmetry. Putting too many items on the plate will make it visually unappealing.
- Simple geometric shapes are the skeleton of plating design. All plating presentations can be defined by simple geometric shapes: lines, arcs, circles, etc.
- Most importantly: love what you do. Be passionate, and the inspiration will come.
Now that you have some plating tips in your chef’s toolkit, it is important to understand how to develop an idea for a dish. Follow Chef’s steps on how he conceptualizes, cooks, and plates a dish and you will be on your way to mastering your own artful creations!
Chef Hervé’s Steps to Plating
- Start by envisioning the dish you’d like to make. You may even have an idea already in your head.
- Pick your protein or main ingredient, if you haven’t already. Decide how you want to cook it and how you want to cut and present it on the plate. This is vital to how the dish will look.
- Conceptualize the flavor profile of your dish. Do you want a bold dish, or would you rather the flavors speak for themselves?
- Pick the plate your dish should go on. Does a soup make sense in a long shallow bowl? Probably not. The plate will allow your food to speak for itself.
- Cut your ingredients properly as you are prepping and cooking. A thin slice of an onion may work better than a minced onion on your dish. Think about this beforehand and make sure to execute it with the knife skills you have been practicing.
- Cook your dish.
- Plate it. It may be helpful to use tweezers. Hint: Chef Herve uses surgical grade tweezers to plate, and this is what many fine dining restaurants do as well!
- Try again and edit your dish. You will never be satisfied with your first plating. It is perfectly ok to edit it and try again.
- Serve to your happy customers, family, or yourself!
Always remember to admire beautiful plating, and that the inspiration from a dish can come from anywhere. Working alongside amazing chefs helped Chef Hervé to find his inner inspiration and allowed him to improve his skills. Nowadays, with the power of social media, the internet, books and magazines, inspiration is endless!
This blog post was originally published by the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. Explore your culinary education where the legacy lives on.