Trends come and go…look at clothing or car styles to know that fact. But what most people don’t think about is that when it comes to the culinary world, Chefs have to keep on top of what’s in and what’s not—just like a fashion designer.
While I was at the Second Harvest Food Bank dinner this month, I was talking with several other chefs. I was asking them, “When did using only 20% of the plate happen?” As you can see, there are trends in plating just like there are in any other aspect of tastes and change.
Plating, or designing the dish prior to its presentation or serving, is truly a form of art. I don’t think it’s about portion control when you see those minimized serving sizes. If you research artwork, I am sure you’ll find some “off-balance” styles. The point of view of the artist allows them to do as they please. The beauty of art is that not everyone is going to get it, or like it. The person taking in the art will always have their own opinions on what they’re observing. And that’s okay.
No chef is the same. That’s why it’s fun to eat at everyone else’s restaurant. Those experiences allow you to pick your favorites, of course. But that’s the great thing about food. Take Collard greens, for example. I’ve never eaten the same batch of collard greens twice. Everywhere I go that offers them I order them because I am excited to see what’s different, or how that particular Chef cooks theirs.
If you have ever noticed what we refer to as a “spoon drag” on the plate, it too, is a trend. I had a young chef assisting me awhile back and he did some amazing spoon drags. He had it down to a definite technique with a perfect flick of his wrist. He was like a machine.
A Chef will always have a tendency to default to how they were taught. At the Greenbrier Hotel & Resort, where I trained, we did most savory dishes in a high and tight style. We had to build and design the plate in equal quadrants. Each quarter had to be balanced. Even the buffet platters—if I had only used one third of the plate back then, I would have been ridiculed even by my classmates.
As time moves on and things change, I imagine chefs will continue to use new styles that incorporate old-school techniques. Spoon drags are good. I am definitely not a dot guy. You know, when you see all of those dot designs on a plate. Now, in the dessert course, I do like dots. If you have a whipped cream element to the dish, and you place three hits of the cream, that’s cool. But I don’t like using them in savory courses. I can find some things acceptable on sweet courses that I wouldn’t on a savory. Desserts are probably the most feminine dish of the night and can afford to be presented in more of a delicate fashion.
Food is definitely masculine and feminine. A fish dish should be gentle and nicely put together. Whereas a steak dish is going to be a bit more rough/rustic and have some masculinity to it.
Anyways, that night of the dinner, after we submitted our courses to the Second Harvest Food Bank, they asked us about plateware. The event had decided on using all different sized square plates. At Lockeland Table, we’ve never owned a square plate. My reason for this is a sexy pun, basically, ”Curves are always better than corners.”
All in all, trends come and go, and are constantly evolving, but I don’t plan to be driven by them. I keep an eye on them, and respect them, but at Lockeland Table we have the final say of what trends and styles we want to pay attention to. I guess you could say we’re “fashion-forward”! We like to cook and prepare food the way it makes sense to us. That’s how we’ve created the Lockeland culture.