Chef David Burke's Plating Practices

Plating can be an intimidating thing, but once you remove the stress from it and start thinking like Picasso, it can be quite fun. Presenting your meal is the last stage of cooking, so when you plate well, that's when you're really a proud chef. Because cooking is like an art to me, it's no surprise I treat plating like an art as well. This is how I compose my pieces.

Start with the Plate

Don't think about the food you have to put on it, but think about the color, shape, and size of the plate. Have fun with the different sizes you use, but never let the plate overpower your dish. It should never be so big or shallow that the food disappears.

Colors and Dimensions

You always want a bit of height with your plate, so place a piece of meat on top of vegetables, or garnish with micro greens. Color is important, too, but makes sure that any you include are reflective of the dish and the season.


When I begin to plate, I start at the center and work my way out. This helps you visualize what you're working toward, and it also helps to keep the plate clean.


Oils are like a different paint brush to use when it comes to plating. Use oils to add drops, lines, or swirls to your plate to make it look artistic. Things to remember with oils are to keep it clean and always use oils that will mesh well with the flavors of your cooked dish.

Stay Off the Rim

Never place herbs or sauces on the rim of the plate and always add them last. I even go as far as cutting herbs tableside and pouring the sauce after the plate has been placed in front of the guest.

Presenting Meat

If you're serving a piece of meat, poultry, or fish that is more beautiful whole than it is cut up, present it tableside and then slice it before you plate. The real art is in the food, so don't tarnish it just for serving.

For all those whiskey lovers out there, you're in luck, because I think that these two liquors will remain high on the "hot" list for 2013.

David Burke is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur. To learn more about him, visit his website and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter @ChefDavidBurke.