Anyone who has ever hosted a party, and that would be all of us, knows just how difficult it can be to create a party plate that looks as good as it tastes. We aren’t, after all, culinary experts, although some of our recipes are beyond delicious. So, what sets our food apart from those dishes served in some of the world’s most popular five-star restaurants?
You’ve probably guessed it, and that would be presentation. When planning a party of any kind, it’s important to remember that one rule which every chef lives and breathes by. Presentation is just as important as taste. So, what can you do to create a beautiful party plate? We thought you’d never ask!
Begin with a Backdrop
Knowing that presentation is as important as it is, bear in mind that you can create the most amazing party plate but if it is set haphazardly on a table with no thought to its surroundings, it will instantly lose its appeal. Start by choosing how you will lay out your party plates and how you will decorate that table.
If you aren’t sure how to do this, take a moment to think about how a photographer sets a backdrop for the photos they are shooting. Sometimes those backdrops are seasonal and other times they are thematic like for weddings, birthdays or retirement. This is what you should be thinking about when planning where you will set up your serving tables and how you will decorate them.
How Will You Serve Those Dishes?
Unless you are hosting a sit-down affair, most people will lay out hot and cold foods for guests to serve themselves. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that you serve an 80/20 ratio of cold to hot foods. Make it easy on yourself by preparing 80% cold foods with a separate table set up to hold hot foods. For hot foods, you can keep them warm in crock pots or with chafing pans and Sterno.
Cold foods and appetizers are especially beautiful when laid out on something like a beautifully stained and seasoned walnut pizza paddle. Contrary to what you might think, these are not those thin paddles which are used to pull pizzas out of a brick oven, but rather more in line with a thick cutting board shaped in the same way as a pizza paddle is. Wouldn’t this be lovely as a platter to hold slices of cheese with a basket of gourmet crackers seated right beside it?
Garnishing the Party Plate Is an Absolute MUST
Now that you’ve decided how you will lay out your hot and cold foods and have a few ideas for your presentation backdrop, it’s time to look at how you will garnish your party plate. Consider for just a moment that lovely walnut pizza paddle mentioned above. You wouldn’t want to hide it under paper lace doilies, would you? So, instead, why not add sprigs of parsley, edible flowers or perhaps sprigs of herbs like fresh basil, rosemary or even dill. These make for lovely garnishes and if laid out around the border with colorful edible flowers, you’ll still see the beautiful grain of the paddle but with that festive appeal of seasonal herbs and flowers.
It’s simply amazing what a little bit of creative artistry can do for a party plate and with some tips, you can find online, fresh herbs and colorful foods, you can create a table to remember. Over time, guests may not remember what they ate but when done up right, they will remember just how perfectly you designed the party décor, beginning with those party plates you’ve learned to create.