Dressing up food is an art, indeed. Observe food displays at buffets, in photographs and in the media. What jumps out at you and grabs your attention? Which foods beg you to try them? Notice the placing of not only food, but dishes and utensils. Color co-ordinations are as important as the array of selected food items.
Whether you are setting the table for one or for a wedding reception, you’ll want to make it inviting once you get a knack for the art of dressing up your food. Begin with color. Take for example a family dinner of scalloped potatoes and pork chops. By adding cheddar cheese to the top of the potatoes, the bland-looking meal becomes more appealing. Peas or broccoli would be an excellent side dish. Observe how you feel when you add these color. The aroma calls you to the table while the colors invite you to dig in.
Imagine a birthday cake without any color. It would simply be a plain cake and the joyousness wouldn’t be felt. Add colorful icing and candles and your mood grows upbeat and excited. When preparing foods, if we keep this simple example in mind, you’ll want to improve the presentation of your creation.
Another way to dress up food is with spices. Some paprika sprinkled on top of a macaroni or potato salad along with a few sprigs of parsley appeal to the salivary glands through the eyes.
Now when it comes to setting out a buffet, you’ll wish to co-ordinate the colors. For a summer gathering at which you’ll serve watermelon, perhaps use a red tablecloth. Set the watermelon in the center after it has been cut in half length-wide and the fruit cut out with a melon cutter into ball shapes and returned to the watermelon’s shell. Add cantaloupe and muskmelon balls, some grapes and strawberries. There are your colors to work with in decorating the rest of the display. In this case, the paprika-topped salads are perfect. Shrimp with cocktail sauce; a cold-cut tray decorated with cheeses, olives and parsley; a couple types of chips and dips; a five (or more) bean salad and a punch bowl with a fruit mixture will have your guests flocking to the table. If possible have two tiers of foods. This is not only esthetically pleasing, but it saves on space so you will require less tables. Place the table so people can reach food from any location around the table. This will allow your guests to be served more quickly. Add final touches, based on the theme of your gathering. Helium-filled balloons, candles, purchased cardboard displays or even ice sculptures pull together your piece of art.
The best compliment you can receive is to have your guest state, “That looks too good to touch.” You’ll know you’ve captured the essence of the art of dressing up your food.