Once you have your menu with the required components, you want to analyze each course by its own and optimize it.
Take each component and the taste of it and ask yourself if you could transform it into something nice with another texture or another way of preparing it. Remember, the state of the menu before this step was just supposed to add up all the basic tastes of the components so they harmonize with each other. Now, it’s about combining textures.
Here’s a short list of examples of what I mean by transforming the components:
- your course requires peas? Use a blender and make a pea puree
- do you want parmesan? Make it a parmesan chip
- Your dessert needs some raspberries? Make a mousse, an ice cream, a sauce or even a macaron!
- need a little lemon zest on that fish? Why not a drop of lemon curd out of a syringe!?
Now you see, the quintessence here is about mixing different textures in your course and therefore in your mouth. It’s all about the exciting variation between, for example, a creamy celery puree, a crunchy chorizo chip, some gritty polenta bites and a cold and refreshing basil mousse.
Now that you have each course and its component in various textures and shapes, you can start to think about the perfection of each course. You eat with your eyes first!
Do respect this rule, you want to do two different things. The decoration and the layout on the plate.
Yes I know, you were going to say: the lame mint leaf on a dessert.
No, I’m talking about nice and neat stuff which is not the average odds and sods… it doesn’t need a lot of effort, just a little sliced basil on that lemon ice cream, a little bit of cress alongside a pea puree. For the extravagant side, put some saffron on a shrimp or slightly grind a tonka bean on vanilla ice cream. If you want to go the extra mile, grate some of that black truffle on a steak or lay on some gold leaves on chocolate desserts.
Now, this is a huge chapter which I want to discuss in a later post. For now, it is just essential to tell you some examples or ideas for plating.
The one thing you need to keep in mind is that you can change the appearance of a plate from “mhhh that looks yummy” to “wow it’s so beautiful I don’t even wanna touch it” with a little inspiration from other websites, just google something like Michelin plates and you will get enough ideas for an arrangement of each course.
Once you’re done gathering ideas, grab a pencil and a sheet of paper and start sketching your menu so you remember what you thought about. The following pictures are a good example of what I mean: