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Enhancing Food Presentation

Enhancing Food Presentation

Planning a design before arranging a spread will greatly enhance the visual appeal and practicality of a buffet presentation. (photo by the CIA)

Culinary Institute of America

Centerpieces and Displays

Any truly successful garnish or focal point adds excitement and interest to a presentation. But they can do more than simply that. They also improve the quality of the entire experience. They reinforce or magnify the buffet’s theme or concept. They provide important visual elements that help the guest decipher the function or meaning of any presentation.

When you turn your attention to the presentation of the entire line or even the entire room, you can see that centerpieces and displays can and should serve the same functions as focal points or garnishes. They too should fit in with the featured concept or theme. It isn’t enough that they match the other elements of the design, however. Just as you should develop a garnish to have a purpose and a meaning, you can also develop a similar plan for the buffet’s centerpieces and displays.

These important design elements may be composed of edible or non-edible materials. Some traditional examples include ice, salt, or tallow sculptures, floral arrangements, or displays of fruits, vegetables, breads, or even wines.

Take care of practical considerations as you incorporate these elements into your overall design. Tall centerpieces and very large displays need to be carefully located. They should not block the guests’ view or make it difficult to reach the food. Position any display pieces that might drip or shed well away from the food. Stabilize tall or top-heavy pieces during the buffet setup to be certain they do not wobble or fall over.

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Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, “Garde Manger: The Art of Craft and the Cold Kitchen” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2008).