If you ask a professional chef they will tell you that presentation is just as important as anything else about the meal. Presentation is not simply about how the food and garnish are placed on the plate (though that is an important aspect of it) but presentation actually involves all of the senses. Here we will discuss the best ingredients that a chef (even a home chef) can use to enhance the flavor, aroma, and visual appeal to any dish.
Flavorful ingredients that will help enhance the appeal
- Caramelized onions add a slightly sweet but also quite unique flavor to a dish. It is especially complimentary to meat dishes.
- Peppers such as green bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, red bell peppers, and other varieties add a sweet and comforting flavor to a dish. Consider chopping them up into fine chunks to enhance the flavor (as well as a visual appeal) of an omelet!
- Fresh herbs are a great way to enhance the flavor profile of a dish. Some herbs will add a more subtle flavor such as thyme or basil. Alternatively, some herbs are far more flavorful and in excess can overpower a dish such as cilantro or dill.
- Adding an acidic flavor to a dish is mandatory for professional chefs. They typically abide by the fat, acid balance that they instill in every dish they make. Good sources of acidic flavors include lemon juice/slices/zest, like juice/slices/zest, orange juice/slices/zest, and many more!
- Condiments, sauces, gravies, oil, and butter will all add another level of flavor to a dish without being the main ingredient or overwhelming the dish as a whole.
Aromatic ingredients that will help enhance the appeal
- There are several aromatic ingredients that chefs (and home chefs) can use to enhance the aroma of the dish without affecting the visual appearance of the dish too much. Many recipes call for garlic, onions, celery, carrots, and ginger because they serve as a basic blend of delicious smells and flavors that bring a dish to the next level!
- Fresh herbs are a great way to enhance the scent of a dish as well because many herbs have a distinct scent to them. For example, mint is a very distinguishable scent. Cilantro not only is a great way to add flavor but it also enhances the scent factor more than most other herbs you might have in your garden.
Visual ingredients that will help enhance the appeal
- With the visual presentation, color is your best friend! Your main goal should be to find complementary or contrasting colors but while also making sure the ingredients you’re adding for visual effect also compliments the dish’s flavors and aromas.
- Consider these colorful ingredients; bell peppers (any color that works for your dish), carrots, peaches, strawberries, lemons, squash, and asparagus. Keep in mind that carrots, peppers, asparagus, and squash all come in a variety of colors.
- There are some garnishes that both assist in the visual effect of the dish while also being edible such as edible flowers (squash blossoms) or even fresh herbs.
- Other ingredients that will enhance the dish visually involve the type of dish and how the food is plated choosing the right plate-size, style, and color is just as important as the food being plated. Then, once you choose the proper dish, you begin to plate and build your ingredients with intent. Some dishes will beg for height or texture and it is the job of the chef to plate the dish in such a way that it adds height or depth, much like an artist painting a picture.