Designing The Platter

1. Plan ahead.

Making a sketch is a good idea. Otherwise,you might have half the food on the platter and suddenly realize you have to start over because everything doesn't fit the way you had hoped.The result is wasted time and excessive handling of food.

One way to start a sketch is to divide the platter into six or eight equal parts, as in Figure 28.1.This helps you avoid lopsided or crooked arrangements by giving you equally spaced markers as guides. It is relatively easy, then, to sketch in a balanced, symmetrical layout, as the examples show.

2. Plan for movement in your design.

This doesn't mean that you should mount the food on little wheels. It means that a good design makes the eye move across the platter, following the lines you have set up.

Most food for platters consists of single small portions arranged in rows or lines.The trick is to put movement into those lines by curving or angling them, as shown in Figure 28.2. In general, curves and angles are said to have movement. Square corners do not.

3. Give the design a focal point.

This is the function of the centerpiece,which emphasizes and strengthens the design by giving it direction and height.This may be done directly, by having the lines point at it, or more subtly, by having the lines angle toward it or sweep around it in graceful curves. Again, see Figures 28.1 and 28.2.

Note that the centerpiece isn't always in the center, in spite of its name. Because of its height, it should be at the back or toward the side so it doesn't hide the food. Remember, you are designing the platter from the customer's point of view.

It's not necessary for every platter on the buffet to have a centerpiece. Some of them should, however, or the buffet will lack height and be less interesting to the eye.

4. Keep items in proportion.

The main items on the platter—the slices of meat,pate,or whatever—should look like the main items.The centerpiece should not be so large or so tall that it totally dominates the platter.The garnish should enhance, not overwhelm, the main item in size, height, or quantity.The number of portions of garnish should be in proportion to the amount of the main item.

The size of the platter should be in proportion to the amount of food. Don't select one that is so small as to become crowded or so large as to look almost empty even before the first guest has arrived.

Keep enough space between items or between rows so the platter doesn't look jumbled or confused.

Figure 28.1 indicates placement of garnish as well as of the main item. Note how the arrangement of garnish reflects or accents the pattern established by the sliced foods.

5. Let the guest see the best side of everything.

Angle overlapping slices and wedge-shaped pieces toward the customer. Make sure the best side of each slice is face up.

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