Sunday, January 26, 2014

Unilever Food Solutions: The Art and Science Behind Food Plating

I've been a foodie for as long as I could remember. Growing up, I had always been in search of gourmet meals sometimes to the point of becoming a gourmand. My interest in food has encouraged me to enroll in a culinary course, hence, I took up baking. But to be perfectly honest, I never fully grasped the concept of food plating. I knew you need to be creative to make the food enticing, but I had no idea there was also science involved in it---I only learned about it recently when I was invited to the Unilever Food Solutions Philippines' Creative Kitchen. Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) made me understood the importance of making dishes visually stimulating. It's not just an art but a significant skill that needs to be mastered. Basically, people eat with their eyes--when a certain dish isn't visually appealing, we often take it for granted no matter how delicious it may taste. In fact, we may not try tasting it at all and move on to the next dish. This is also one of the reasons why the social media platform Instagram has gained popularity where netizens loved to post photos of food on their accounts. 

How food is presented can totally affect a number of things from whether the diner will choose to order that dish, up to the diner's entire eating experience. This is where Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) comes to the rescue for restaurateurs, entrepreneurs in the food industry, practicing chefs or any ordinary food enthusiasts. With its mission to help uplift the standards of the food industry, to help Filipino restaurateurs to improve their operations, and for the chefs to further enhance their craft. UFS believes that it is their responsibility to ensure that their clients and partners become successful too. They know that some entrepreneurs do not have proper knowledge or training in culinary, so they assist them in their business--UFS could develop menus for them and they also make sure to constantly share its expertise and techniques as well as in-depth modules made accessible online at their website for FREE. It is more important than sales alone--for Unilever Food Solutions believes in 'win-win situation' and grow with their clients and partners.

"Sometimes people put so much effort into cooking the food that they sometimes forget that they need the same amount of effort into figuring out how to properly present it," says Unilever Food Solutions Senior Sous Chef Paolo Sia. "It's not only about art, because the way you plate your dish should not only captivate them to want to order and eat it, but it should also guide the diner into how best to enjoy and appreciate it," he adds. 

What Chef Paolo Sia said brought me back to my memories of eating Hainanese chicken for the first time-I had no idea how to properly eat it because I was given three different sauces to go with it. If it only it were plated properly, maybe, it'll be easier for me to figure out which sauce should come first, the ginger oil, the sweet soy one or the chili paste? The basics of food plating include considering the following things: creating a framework, ensuring balance, size of food portions while still highlighting the key ingredients. According to Unilever Food Solutions Executive Chef Joanne Limoanco-Gendrano shares, "Creating a beautiful plate of food entails a lot of discipline. Although creativity is important, it has to be structured creativity. Thus, there is a need to understand the basics of food presentation and plating."

For someone involved in the food service industry as it is in most hands-on entrepreneurs, it is very important to understand your consumers, have a comprehensive knowledge of your cuisine, and know what they are expecting from you. From your business name/brand all the way down to the way you plate your food has to complement the entire dining experience. While it must look beautiful to look at, it still has to be practical. Don't overcomplicate it, make sure it looks good yet still easy enough to eat--without making too much mess. 

I remember I once featured a popular foodie/entrepreneur on this blog who went into food business and named the restaurant in French. People would get disappointed after coming to her restaurant because they thought they'd be enjoying authentic French cuisine but her restaurant's menu were comprised of her well-loved comfort foods and the foods she had enjoyed in her travels and not necessarily French. But because she didn't foresee that naming her restaurant in French would have people thinking it's some cozy French joint. Unfortunately, that same establishment named after a French word had closed down last year. 

Going back to the website I'm raving about, Unilever Food Solutions website, is a great tool for anyone involved in the food service industry, entrepreneurs, food enthusiasts, chef wannabes, or even a  typical homemaker interested in the latest food related issues. To learn more about food plating, food trends, and how else Unilever Food Solutions could help you and your business, please visit 

Disclaimer: I am not compensated with this post. Opinions expressed are my own. 


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