First impressions say a lot, and this applies to food, too. When we eat, we eat with our eyes first, and then our mouths. If the presentation of the food is not appealing, then our expectations for it and perception of how delicious the food will taste declines.

Here are five things to keep in mind the next time you serve food to your significant other to make it look as appealing as it will be delicious.

1. The plate

When you choose your plate, make sure you choose a plate that is big enough to place all your food and still have space left over, but not too big so that your portions look minuscule. Think of your plate as a canvas and the food as the medium. You do not want to have a space that is so small that you cannot use all your material, but you do not want to have a space that is so large that you cannot fill it all in.

It is important that you do not overcrowd the plate when serving. In addition, keep the color and the patterns of the plate in mind. If you are serving something darker in color, use a lighter plate and vice versa. If your food is very busy, such as a salad with a lot of toppings, choose a plain plate. If your food is more still, such as a porridge or a soup, choose a plate with some patterning.

2. Placement of the food

When you place your food, it is important to keep symmetry and the order in which the food is eaten in mind. Symmetry does not necessarily mean that the plate has to be the same on the left side and the right side when split down the middle – it means balance. In fact, having a plate with mirror symmetry can look quite off and a bit unsettling. Imagine having four brussel sprouts placed in a 2x2 array on a plate. An odd number of food, such as five shrimp, looks much more appealing than four shrimp when placed in a circle on the place. In addition, make sure you do not overcrowd the plate, leave space around it so one ingredient can serve as the star of the dish in the center, while other supporting ingredients surround it.
It is a good idea to put the moist, runny, and larger items on the plate first. Things like sauces, purees, and maybe leafy plants serve as a nice base for anchoring down smaller foods and as a backdrop for the main ingredient of the dish. Garnishes and smaller items look better on top of the main ingredient or to the side.

3. Color, contrast, texture, and dimension

Variety is the spice of life. Think about changing up the color and the contrast of the ingredients. One of the best-kept secrets to beautiful plating is paying close attention to the details. Construct a background for your plate by adding vividly colored vegetables or brightly colored fruits as accents or highlights to bring out the main ingredient. On the contrary, you can also use ingredients with complementary colors, such greens, and reds, or colors from the same family, such as crimsons, pinks, and browns.

You can also stack ingredients to give your plate more dimension. While stacking ingredients can help create dimension, make sure you balance out leaner, longer ingredients by placing them against flatter, wider objects. Last, but not least, vary the texture. Not only does a dish with different textures tastes better, it looks better. For example, adding some crushed nuts or cheese crumbles to a puree can help create a more appealing dish. Adding some shredded carrots can help bring out the color of a soup and make it appear less mundane.

4. Use tools

There are many tools that can help you perfect the decoration of the plate. You can buy professional tools that chefs use, such as shavers, piping tips, chef spoons, and specific molds to help you get the perfect shape and clean plate. You can also use tools that you already have in your kitchen – such as a regular soup spoon, vegetable peeler, or a ramekin – to help you get that smear of sauce or that perfect round shape.

5. Add finishing touches

Use edible garnishes as a finishing touch to bring out the main element of the dish. Remember to avoid unappetizing, cumbersome, and inedible garnishes like giant pieces of raw herbs and stems, chunks of raw food for a cooked dish, something that is extremely fragrant, and or anything that has to be moved out of the way before the food can be eaten. Make sure the garnishes are easy to apply and stay put as the dish is served. You do not want anything taking too long to apply so that the food cools down or anything that would fall off as your walking it to the table.
Be sure to clean up the edges of the plate and the bottom of the plate when you serve it to your significant other. Nobody wants to pick up their plate and find the bottom of their hands or their tablecloth stained.

All images from pexels and crateandbarrel