The Visual Appeal of Plating Food

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  • Lesson Identification and TEKS Addressed

    Cluster : Hospitality and Tourism

    Course : Practicum in Culinary Arts

  • TEKS Student Expectations

    • (2) The student develops skills for success in the workplace. The student is expected to:
      • (E) exhibit productive work habits, ethical practices, and a positive attitude
      • (F) demonstrate knowledge of personal and occupational health and safety practices in the workplace
      • (G) demonstrate the ability to work wit the other employees to support the organization and complete assigned tasks
      • (H) prioritize work to fulfill responsibilities and meet deadlines
      • (J) demonstrate effective verbal, non-verbal, written, and electronic communication skills
      • (K) apply effective listening skills used in the workplace
    • (3) The student demonstrates work ethics, employer expectations, interaction with diverse populations, and communication skills in the workplace. The student is expected to:
      • (B) demonstrate characteristics of successful working relationships such as teamwork, conflict resolution self-control, and the ability to accept criticism
      • (D) demonstrate respect for the rights of others
      • (F) comply with organizational policies
    • (7) The student uses concepts and skills related to safety in the workplace. The student is expected to:
      • (A) identify and apply safe working practices
      • (B) solve problems related to unsafe work practices and attitudes
    • (10) The student understands the history of food service and the use of the professional kitchen. The student is expected to:
      • (D) analyze how current trends in society affect the food service industry
      • (E) use large and small equipment in a commercial kitchen
      • (F) develop food production and presentation techniques
      • (H) demonstrate food preparation skills used in commercial food service preparations such as breakfast cookery, salads and dressings, soups and sandwiches, stocks and sauces, appetizers, seafood, poultry cookery, meat cookery, pastas and grains, and fruits and vegetables
      • (K) demonstrate proper cleaning of equipment and maintenance of the commercial kitchen
  • Basic Direct Teach Lesson

    Instructional Objectives

    Students will:

    • explain why attractive food presentation is important
    • serve food that is attractively arranged on the plate with the proper balance of color shape and texture
    • identify common terms from classical food presentation and garnishing
  • Rationale


    In the food service and hospitality industry, it is important to make and present food that is appealing to the eyes as to the palate. By understanding the principles in food and plate presentation, students will gain industry skills and continue to be a valued employee.

  • Duration of Lesson

    Five 45 minute class periods

  • Word Wall

    Accompaniments: A vegetable or starch served with the main item

    Balance: Providing enough variety and contrast to hold interest

    Bouquetiére: A bouquet of vegetables

    Classical Garnish: In classical cuisine, combination of foods placed on a plate to accompany the main item

    Focal Point : Emphasizes and strengthens the design by giving height and direction

    Garnish: To decorate or enhance the food with the addition of other items

    Gross piece – or centerpiece: An uncut portion of the main food item

    Movement: Good design makes the eye move across the plate or platter

    Plating: The way food is arranged on the plate

    Ravier: An oval relish dish

  • Materials/Specialized Equipment Needed


    • computers with internet for multimedia presentation
    • various garnishing and plating utensils – whatever you have available (see Anticipatory Set)


    • color pencils
    • frosted cake/Twinkie, or other premade dessert
    • various ingredients that can be used for garnishes such as:
      • berries
      • chocolate
      • flavored sweet sauces
      • whipped cream
    • copies of all handouts (see All Lesson Attachments tab)
  • Anticipatory Set

    Before class begins:

    Display on a table in the front of the room:

    • garnishing tools
    • parchment paper
    • paring knife
    • pastry brushes (various sizes)
    • petit cookie cutters or shapes
    • plates (round and square)
    • small mixing bowls
    • small rolling pins
    • squeeze bottles
    • vegetable peeler
    • vegetables and/or fruit to complement the recipe for plating.
    • whisks
    • wooden skewers or toothpicks
    • zester

    Prepare a plate using the frosted cake or Twinkie and any garnishes desired so students may view as they enter the classroom.

    Ask the following questions:

    • What is the visual appeal of the frosted cake plate?
    • Do you think the garnishing and plating techniques were difficult?
    • Have you noticed other plating techniques?
    • Why is it so important to “plate” food?

  • Direct Instruction with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Introduce lesson objectives, terms, and definitions.

    Introduce the PowerPoint™ The Visual Appeal of Plating Food (see All Lesson Attachments tab).
    Distribute the Plating and Garnishing Terms handout (see All Lesson Attachments tab). Key is also included.
    Be sure to pronounce the terms correctly so students can understand.
    Continue with slide presentation as students follow along.

    View short video of Chef Curtis Stone on How to Plate a Cobb Salad

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include but are not limited to:

    • working with peers
    • checking for understanding

  • Guided Practice with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Divide students into lab groups.

    Distribute copies of your selected recipes for lab or allow students to research recipes using the internet or cookbooks available.

    Distribute the graphic organizer Plating Plan for Visual Appeal (Round Plate) or Plating Plan for Visual Appeal (Square Plate) (see All Lesson Attachments tab).

    Allow lab groups time to sketch their menu using color pencils on either a round or square plate so they may visualize their presentation.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include but are not limited to:

    • check for understanding
    • work in small groups

  • Independent Practice/Laboratory Experience with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Distribute Rubric for Plating Presentation (see All Lesson Attachments tab) so lab groups can see the expectations.
    Remind students of lab and food safety rules before they begin preparing their recipes.

    Students will “plate” their menu following their Plating Plan for Visual Appeal.

    Use a department camera, cell phone, or tablet cameria to photograph the plate presentations.
    These photographs can be included in a student cumulative portfolio.

    Remind students of the proper cleaning of equipment before the class period ends.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include but are not limited to:

    • work in small groups
    • provide praise and encouragement

  • Lesson Closure

    Review lesson objectives, terms, and definitions.

    Ball Toss

    Option A:
    Toss a beach ball to various students and ask them to remind the class of four important essential aspects of plating food.

    • present correctly cut and cooked food
    • be neat and clean
    • edges of the plate are clean and presentable
    • use artistic flare is key when plating

    As a culinary professional, the food should not only taste good but be appealing to the eye.

    Option B:
    Scan the internet for reliable images of plated food. Project the images and discuss the elements used in the plating.

  • Summative/End of Lesson Assessment with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Invite teachers, administrators, and other members of your faculty to assist in judging the visual appeal of the menu items. Students will explain how the menu items were used to visually appeal to customers.
    Plating presentations will be scored with a rubric.

    Present Certificate of Excellence (see All Lesson Attachments tab) to winning team.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include but are not limited to:

    • encourage participation
    • give praise for completed work

  • References/Resources


    • Wayne Gisslen, Professional Cooking, Sixth Edition, Chapter 8, (John Wiley and Sons, 2007)
    • National Restaurant Foundation, Foundations of Restaurant Management, Level 2, (Pearson, Prentice Hall, 2011),


  • Additional Required Components

    English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Strategies

    • word wall
    • use oral language for formal and informal purposes
    • work in small groups
  • College and Career Readiness Connection

    AchieveTexas Career Cluster Crosswalks

    The Career Cluster Crosswalks housed on the AchieveTexas website provide Texas teachers with a direct connection between their CTE course TEKS and the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Cross-Disciplinary integration are the focus of the CCRS. These college and career readiness standards are essential in the planning and delivery of CTE lessons. The extent to which the integration occurs is determined by the methods and strategies utilized by each teacher.

    Career Cluster Crosswalks for Education and Training, Hospitality and Tourism, and Human Services Career Clusters can be found at:

  • Recommended Strategies

    Reading Strategies

    Depending on available resources, select a short article that discusses various aspects of garnishing and plating. If the students have access to the Internet in class, have them select one of the ezine articles listed below and read the article and write a brief summary in their journal.

    Encourage students to “visualize” as they read. Many students are visual learners and will benefit from making sketches or diagrams on scrap paper as they read. Providing students with graphic organizers to help them organize their thoughts is also helpful.

  • Quotes

    There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
    - George Bernard Shaw

    Garnishes must be matched like a tie to a suit.
    -Fernand Point (1897-1955)

    Know how to garnish food so that it is more appealing to the eye and even more flavorful than before.
    -Marilyn Vos Savant

    Keep the garnish simple, it can’t over power the dish and it needs to make sense.

  • Multimedia/Visual Strategies


    • The Visual Appeal of Plating Food
    • Presentation Notes – The Visual Appeal of Plating Food

    Files for downloading;

  • Graphic Organizers/Handout

    Graphic Organizer:

    • Plating Plan for Visual Appeal (Round Plate)
    • Plating Plan for Visual Appeal (Square Plate)


    • Certificate of Excellence
    • Plating and Garnishing Terms
    • Plating and Garnishing Terms (Key)
    • Rubric for Plating Presentation

    Files for downloading:

  • Writing Strategies

    Journal Entries:

    • The difference between plating and garnishing is ……..
    • Three points to remember when plating or garnishing food are…
    • Remembering to thoughtfully plate and garnish food is important because……
    • The way food is prepared affects plating by …..
    • Describe how you plated and garnished your assigned food during the lab this week

    Writing Strategy:

    • RAFT (Role/Audience/ Format/ Topic) writing strategy:
      Role: Chef
      Audience: Customers
      Format: Menu or food magazine article
      Topic: Describe a food to be served on your menu
  • Communication 90 Second Speech Topics

    Employing the picture of their lab plating, lab groups will explain what they made, how they made it, and why they plated and garnished as they did. If pictures cannot be taken, have each group present their plates at the end of the lab and present their speech.

    Additional Speech Topics:

    • Describe a magazine picture plate ….
    • My favorite food is ___________and I would I plate and garnish it ……..
    • Use a garnish and explain how it can be used ………

  • Other Essential Lesson Components

    Enrichment activity

    Mystery garnish. Provide a bag with one or two mystery items and the student will have to create an edible garnish and describe what it could be used to garnish.

  • Family/Community Connection

    Option A

    • The students will interview a local Chef and take a photo of the picture of a dinner entrée.
      • Why did you become a chef?
      • Where did you study?
      • How did you get your present job?
      • What are some of the other culinary jobs you have held?
      • Who is your favorite Chef?
      • Why is food presentation so important?

    Option B

    • Invite a local chef to be a guest speaker on plating and garnishing presentation or a garde manger (fruit/vegetable carving) demonstration.

  • CTSO connection

    Family, Career, Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

    Star Events/Proficiency:

    Student can use the information and skills gained from this lesson as they prepare for competitions in the various student leadership organizations. In FCCLA students can use the information as they prepare for competition in:

    • Food Innovations – is an individual or team event that recognizes participants who demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts of food product development by creating an original prototype formula, testing the product through focus groups, and developing a marketing strategy. Participants will demonstrate their knowledge of food science, nutrition, food preparation safety, and product marketing. Participants must prepare a display, suggested product packaging, and an oral presentation.
    • Culinary Arts – a team event, recognizes participants enrolled in occupational culinary arts/food service training programs for their ability to work as members of a team to produce a quality meal using industrial culinary arts/food service techniques and equipment. Team of participants must develop a plan for the time allotted, prepare menu items given to them at the time of the event and present their prepared items to evaluators.
    • Nutrition and Wellness – an individual event, recognizes participants who track food intake and physical activity for themselves, their family, or a community group and determine goals and strategies for improving their overall health. Participants must prepare a portfolio and an oral presentation.
    • Life Event Planning – Life Event Planning is an individual or team event that recognizes participants who apply skills learned in Family and Consumer Sciences courses to manage the costs of an event. An event is defined here as any upcoming occasion that will bring changes and/or new experiences and accompanying financial challenges.
    • Mystery Basket – an individual event, recognizes participants enrolled in occupational food service training programs for their ability to display knowledge and skill-based learning of the culinary arts. Individuals produce a single plate containing a serving of protein, starch and vegetable. The focus of this event is the individual participant’s: proper use of commercial culinary tools and equipment, professional culinary technique, personal creativity and safety and sanitation procedures. Individuals are required to develop a plan for their time allotment, create a menu to be produced, prepare menu items of their choice and present their prepared plate to the judging panel of professionals. They are also required to complete a self- evaluation.

    The information may also be helpful as students study for the Leadership Educational Opportunity test (LEO’s). LEO’s are objective tests given to FCCLA members at fall leadership training, regional FCCLA
    meetings and at the state FCCLA meeting. Students may take the test at all meeting, but may only take one test at each.


    • Commercial Baking
      Challenges contestants to meet production and quality standards expected by industry. Students must scale, mix, prepare and bake six products (including breads, rolls, Danish, cookies and pies) and demonstrate cake-decorating skills. They must deliver a quality, salable product while working efficiently and under job-like conditions.
    • Culinary Arts
      The competition will encompass both hot and cold food preparation and presentation. Contestants will demonstrate their knowledge and skills through the production of a four-course menu in a full day competition. The contestants will be rated on their organization, knife skills, cooking techniques, creative presentation, sanitation food safety techniques, and above all, the quality and flavor of their prepared items. The high school competitors will work from one menu with standardized recipes. The college/postsecondary students will work from a market basket format and write their own menu and recipes the night before the competition

    Texas Restaurant Association

    • ProStart Student Invitational
      Culinary Competition
      Management Competition

    Community SLO Activity

    Plan an appreciation event. Select an entitiy: teachers/ school staff/ community members such as firefighters, pólice, etc and prepare a breakfast, lunch, dessert bar. Something that will showcase the skills learned and give back to the community.

  • Service Learning Projects

    Successful service learning project ideas originate from student concerns and needs. Allow students to brainstorm about service projects pertaining to lesson. For additional information on service learning see

    Fun Food for Kids

    • Contact an elementary afterschool program and arrange to have the students go and demonstrate how to make nutritious snacks and plate them in a fun, creative, and reproducible manner so the elementary students can duplicate or create their own plating.

  • All Attachments