Reading: Master the #ArtOfPlating

Master the #ArtOfPlating

The art of plating food is all in the details. The careful layering of different textures and colours to create a final result that is as appealing to the eye as the stomach. One chef who appreciates the inherent beauty of  well-presented food is David Mottershall, owner of Loka. Loka burst onto the food scene a couple of years ago as a pop-up that went viral thanks to the intricate plates shared on his Instagram account as @chef_rouge.  He then parlayed thousands of double-taps into Toronto’s first successfully Kickstarter-funded restaurant.

The online fandom is a result of the unique way that Mottershall connects his hyper farm-to-table philosophy with artistically playful presentation.

In order to create this new look, dubbed “new romanticism” by food critics, one must begin with the best of ingredients. Mottershall recommends “finding foods that have both contrasting textures and complementary flavours”.

Unlike some chefs, Mottershall’s inspiration for his plates comes 100% organically from the vision he receives from the food itself. These are not outlandish towers made by wielding tweezers with a surgeon’s  precision; they are loving homages to the produce itself, elevated by a painter’s sensibility into true works of (delicious) art.

Of course,  it is important to remember that some of the most delicious things in life are not photogenic – and that’s okay.  Your mother’s lasagna might not look that good, but it is still a wonderful thing.

1. A Fresh Start

A bright white plate should be the foundation; this will allow your food to pop when it is presented and (of course) photographed. It’s simple but true.

2. Build a Base

It’s time to layer. Smear the plate with a sauce or purée, in this case, a smoked mayo. Take a good spoonful and then sweep it gently across the plate as a landing pad for the rest of the dish. Leave plenty of white space for contrast, which will then be filled with  both colours and textures as you go. Keep in mind that one of the basic tenants for photography is “rule of thirds”: don’t be afraid to plate off center.

3. New Heights

Begin stacking key ingredient pairings to add depth to your dish. Here Mottershall has draped his prosciutto softly over the fried chicharrónes. Building height gives the plate a 3-dimensional quality that will wow – just use a delicate hand bringing it to the table.

4. Feeling Saucy

Once the main ingredients are plated, it’s time to let those hours of pickling and fermenting to shine.  Mottershall, has a zero waste policy so many of these items, such as powdered leek, are scraps that are put to greater use.  When garnishing don’t just think about visual impact but how they will enhance the flavours of the dish. Here Mottershall adds deer lichen which brings an earthy quality to cuts through the sweetness of the cherries.