Saturday, April 14, 2007
Play at the Plate
A post over at Art and Perception asking if artists cook the same way they make art made me think about the entire art of food plating. The Art and Perception post is about the act of cooking, whether you're following a recipe or your own bliss when cooking, rather than about plating, but I've seen enough Iron Chef to know that there are some wonderful ways of making great food look better. (My cooking tends more to surrealism, so I'll keep my own style to myself here.)
I found the photo above in an article about an art-inspired chef who tries to incorporate a painterly style into his plating presentations. I haven't seen it myself, but the go-to book for those looking to improve their own plating seems to be Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation by Christopher Styler with photos by David Lazarus.
As I write this blog, I always try to be more conscious of the way art is part of our daily lives. Aside from whatever public sculpture or architecture we pass on our way to work or whatever photos, prints, or calendars we hang on our walls, art, the act of artifice, is always all around us every day of our lives. Eating can also be another form of art in our lives, if we choose to see it that way, from the wrapper on a fast food burger to the elegant plating of the finest restaurant.
My wife and I, when we used to dine in nice places (i.e., pre-baby), loved to play "backseat chef" at restaurants when looking at the plating, a habit you can't help but pick up from watching Iron Chef. I always thought that there was a great mystery novel to be written in which the little dots and dashes of sauce on the periphery of a plate ended up being a message in Morse code sent by a desperate chef to the hero.
(And since we're on the subject of Iron Chef here, are there any six more terrible words spoken on the Japanese Iron Chef than "going for the ice cream maker"? They put some pretty horrible stuff in there, like they're trying to prove that you can make ice cream out of anything. I always thought that it would be a great interrogation technique: "Hans, get the ice cream maker... and some squid..." "NO, NO, NO, I'll talk, I'll talk!!!")