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Chef Ratatui é o blog que vem ultrapassar barreiras geográficas... apesar de ser um espaço virtual pretende-se que se sinta ao meu lado a confeccionar as melhores receitas de culinária... simplesmente a Receita para o Bem-Estar!
Novembro 2012
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Today, I wanted to talk about the little kitchen tools that make a difference. Sure, there are many to list, but these 8 tools will get your plating skills well started.


Of course, you first need to be well-equipped in terms of kitchen knives, cutting board, plates, etc…

Apart from that, the number 1 tool in your kitchen MUST be the Cuisinart Hand Blender, not only for plating, but for your home cooking in general. Small price; essential tool. I go through 2 or 3 a year; that’s how much I use them. The Cuisinart hand blender is an essential tool for plating, by the way, because it can be used as a GREAT emulsifier, hence making your soups, sauces, dressing ultra-smooth and attractive.


Check out Cuisinart hand blenders on




photo courtesy of


Next, we have a Silicone Baking Mat, also known as “Silpat”. A Silpat can be used for baking (nothing sticks to it, so you can bake your cookies, roasted vegetables, chicken, etc… on it with confidence. No oil, no butter, no nothing.), but it can also be used for caramel or chocolate decoration, which REALLY makes a basic dessert look professional. Interesting fact, when I started chef school back in 1986, a silicone mat was sooo new and trendy, and it costed about $100. Some 25 years later, prices are drastically reduced and you can get one of these for well under $20.





Check out silicone mats on



Boy do I love my Microplane Grater/Zester! The Microplane is a super-sharp (yet safe!), ultra-precise grater/zester that you can use in a wide variety of ways. Chocolate is easy and beautiful to grate. Zest citrus and the result is thin, tiny, beautiful bits of flavors. Grate Parmiggiano-Reggiano and you get the perfect sand-like cheese for your pasta. Works great for garlic and ginger too.
Mainly, though, I use my Microplane in association with the silpat to create thin Parmesan crisps that look like that:


photo courtesy of







Check out the Microplane Grater/Zester on


You will also need a food stacker. Even though professional chefs now tend to use less challenging, more natural ways of plating their food than, say, in the 90s, home chefs can use the food stacking technique to bring height, creativity and pizzaz to their plates.


photo courtesy of


A food stacker is a small, inexpensive ring of metal (chef tip: cut-out pvc pipes work very well too!) that you put on the plate before plating, and layer the different elements of your dish. When all elements are stacked, remove the ring and voila, the “tower” adds height, verticality and elegance to your plate.


Check out stacking rings on


For saucing, professional chefs have been using tiny spatulas to get the effect below (the mustard-colored effect at bottom right corner). A very trendy plating technique that looks very good.


photo courtesy of




Check out decorating spatulas on



Or a simple brush to get colorful “brush strokes” on a white plate:


photo courtesy of


Check out brushes on


A “garde-manger” kit, as it is called professionally, comes very handy when decorating fruits and vegetables. Great for carving, too. With this kit, and some practice, you can do stuff like this:


 photo courtesy of


Check out garnishing sets on


Last but not least, little squeeze bottles are essential. They make very precise lines to give a sense of direction, dynamism to a presentation, or tiny dots of colorful essence to complement your dish.


photo courtesy of 


Or (check the four little red dots):


photo courtesy of


Check out squeeze bottles on



Oh, yes… you will also need a good old tablespoon; the must-have, ultimate plating tool.

publicado por Chef Michael Rocha às 21:51
A diner in a restaurant is sensitive to culinary presentations, very much like a viewer is sensitive to a piece of artwork. He or she responds to stimuli and psychological perceptions influenced by his or her background, education, trends, etc… Chefs can influence that perception by effectively following a set of guidelines and bring harmony to the look of a culinary presentation.

When plating food, one of the most important guidelines to pay attention to is the “support”, aka the plate. Visually, your plated food will NOT look the same on two different supports. Different colors, shapes, sizes, etc. create different degrees of interest. The overall quality of each plate and its correlation with the food it supports will define the unity of the culinary design, and its impact on the diner. Supports trick the eye and provide enhancement or deterioration of the food presentation.


What to look for?


As a general rule, your plated presentation will always look better if the food lays on a large, white support. There is a principle associated to this; it’s the principle of “negative” spacing.


Organizing space on a plate is as important as organizing your food on said plate. The graphic design industry often refers to “white” space or “negative” space. White space allows the elements to exist at all and is key to composition. It reinforces the elements of the presentation. For instance, imagine the inside pages of the white pages. They appear cluttered and crammed with names. Now, one can imagine one of these pages replaced by a white page, onto which only one name has been printed. Now all we can see is one name in the middle of a white page. Far from bringing emptiness, white space actually reinforces what needs to be emphasized, in this case the only name on the page. In culinary arts, chefs use white space to strengthen their presentations in much the same way. By subtracting elements and increasing the amount of space, the featured elements of prepared food seem visually stronger.


Salmon on a white rectangle plate

Salmon on a white rectangular plate


Take a look at the photo above. I used a large, white, rectangular plate and purposely placed the main ingredient (salmon) on the right hand side of the plate. By doing this, I left a large amount of “white space” (or “negative” space). “Negative” space in this case serve the purpose of enhancing the very nice color of the curry vinaigrette and the tomatoes. it also brings focus to the salmon.

A color or a decorated plate, on the other hand, takes away from the food you’re trying to showcase. Pay attention to the 2 following photos. Although it is the same dish, one of the 2 looks better than the other one. Which presentation looks best? The 2 square plates are the same dimensions. Only the color changes; one being purple, and the other white. While the purple plate (note the emphasis on plate) looks great, the food on it looks like something is missing. What’s missing, of course, is contrast. See the difference of contrast, color between the 2 sets of mini tomatoes? Do you notice how the herb garnish looks brighter and “healthier” on the white plate, and how the whole dish looks like it’s “coming out” of the plate as opposed to “getting lost” into it?..

Salmon on a small, square purple plate
Salmon on a small, square purple plate
Salmon on a white, square plate

Salmon on a white, square plate


One of the risks of missing the balance when composing a plated design is clutter. Clutter distracts from the main elements and makes it difficult to identify the subject and easy to miss the focus. To minimize this risk, chefs often use space to simplify their design. A recent trend also consists on taking a minimalist approach when composing. In fine dining, large, white plates are often chosen to emphasize white space and create bolder presentations. Of course, on the other hand, inexpert use of white space can make a plate appear incomplete.

  • colored plates may take away contrast, which is necessary to the overall visual appeal of the food.
  • decorated plates clutter the presentation and focus on food is lost among complicated plate designs.
  • Small plates do not leave enough “white space” and the food my appear cluttered.
  • Deep plates (soup plates, pasta dishes) can give the impression of limiting height, which is also necessary to balance and unity of a food presentation.
  • The design of the actual plate must be consistent with the theme of the food, as well as the expectation of your audience. For instance, it may be appropriate for a Mexican-themed dinner, to use handcrafted pottery plates to plate the food.

The image below shows the very same dish again, the salmon, plated on a large, white plate. Now we are much closer to a nice, clean, uncluttered restaurant-style presentation. First, the amount of “white space” is huge. This has the benefit to concentrate the food in the middle of the plate and brings focus to it. “White space” in this case also outlines the contrast of the curry vinaigrette and the sauteed baby tomatoes in a big, nice way. Finally, it brings unity to the presentation; Probably because the plate now acts as a large, uncluttered frame to this artistic food presentation.

salmon on a large, round, white plate
salmon on a large, round, white plate

Regardless, spacing must be appropriate and consistent with the theme, restaurant concept, number of courses on the menu, and the target audience. For instance, a BBQ buffet for a picnic does not benefit much from “spacing”, which is most often use in a fine dining setting. Buffets do not usually need spacing techniques because their strength relies on abundance, to which spacing may be detrimental.

In the photo below, the yellow/beige plate works well for the presentation, thanks mainly to the wise use of “negative spacing” (large plate; small food in center). But could it have worked better with a white plate of the same size?


food plated on large, yellow plate

food plated on large, yellow plate


In the next photo, a bright green, rustic plate is used to showcase a fish dish. This presentation also works well, probably due to the theme-consistent Carribean feel to it (banana leaf, funky colored plate, fish), as well as the striking contrast between the green of the plate and the white of the fish.


fish presented on a bright green plate

fish presented on a bright green plate


Another technique consists in mixing supports. It often adds value to presentations to plate food on unusual supports such as chinese soup spoons, shot glasses, scallop shells, etc...


appetizers plated in chinese soup spoons

appetizers plated in chinese soup spoons


Now, with supports (plates), there are also mistakes NOT to make. For instance, working with “cheap” plates is a mistake. Again, it takes away from the food by distracting the eye. Example in the following photo. First, the plate is too small, leaving no “negative” space to organize. Furthermore, the color rings kind of squeesh the food further and leave no leeway for uncluttered presentation. Finally, just like with a color plate, the somewhat faded color rings really take away from the food presentation. Yikes!

Salmon on a "cheap", colored plate
Salmon on a “cheap”, colored plate

Another common mistake is to use a plate that is totally inappropriate for the presentation. In the photo below, I used a deep, oval pasta dish. While this might serve other purposes and highlight other foods like… well… pasta, it kind of “buries” the fish into the plate, canceling the elegance of height, and cluttering the food in a very clumsy way.


Salmon on a deep, oval plate

Salmon on a deep, oval plate



  1. Use large, white plates to plate your food.
  2. Introduce theme-related plates consistent with the theme.
  3. Work with “white spacing”.
  4. Mix supports.
  5. Avoid inappropriate supports.
publicado por Chef Michael Rocha às 21:42

Every culinary presentation starts with a creative process.

Here is a sketch by one of the masters of our craft: Grant Achatz of Alinea restaurant in Chicago. He is of course known for his avant-garde cuisine and whimsical presentations. To achieve stunning presentations like this one, chef Achatz starts with an idea, a concept, then brainstorms with his team of chefs, with a professional assigned to create the support (aka the plates), and goes to the drawing board.



The sketch then becomes a reality (see below).



What can I say? Rarely in the history of Gastronomy have we seen such a perfection in the creative process. He really pushed the envellope when it comes to dedicating brain cells to the creation of a dish.

But that should be our process too. Thinking things through. It doesn’t have to be that involved, but each plate coming out of our kitchens must be the result of some kind of carefully thought process.

Among the factors to take into consideration is our target audience. We want to be aware of what our customers are looking for. For instance, the food you see below may be more suitable to sophisticated urban diners in New York than early birds in Lisbon, Portugal.




The importance of FUNCTION is also a serious factor. Dishes must be functional; they must work for us. They must make sense. If we work for a fast casual restaurant for instance, it doesn’t make sense to create a dish that require 7 or 8 plating steps. 3 will be plenty.

Another example would be the purpose of garnish. Are garnishes necessary?.. If so, what
is acceptable to put on a plate?..

These are all good questions to ask during the creative process.

I remember when I started as a chef, I was more worried about the presentation of a dish than its flavor or functionality. It’s important to always remember that when it comes to plating food, that food must taste good, and it must be functional enough. Flavor and function must always overpower the presentation.



As a side note, I found out that most culinary students try to improve their plated food presentations by adding stuff. They try to add because they think that by adding something, anything, like an extravagant garnish for instance, their plate will always look better. They think it can only add to the presentation.

Unfortunately, the overall beauty of a food presentation most often relies on the specific beauty of each of its elements. No need to add anything. In other words, if you want to plate a chicken breast, some mashed potatoes and a few sauteed vegetables, you’d better FIRST pay attention to how the chicken breast, the mashed potatoes and the sauteed vegetables look individually, BEFORE you even pay attention to the overall presentation.

FUNCTION, then, is an important factor.

publicado por Chef Michael Rocha às 21:18

| B iografia |


Julgo que é mais importante mencionar alguns factos importantes como surgiu este gosto pela cozinha, onde tem origem esta vontade de “ser alguém” no mundo da cozinha?

Comecei a cozinhar muito cedo com a ausência da minha mãe. Não quero mentir, não sou muito bom em datas, mas com sete ou oito anos já cozinhava alguma coisa e com 10 anos cozinhava a sério e com 15 anos já era um cozinheiro por necessidade.

Quando comecei a trabalhar nesta área, aliás, quiseram-me na Cozinha por mero acaso, o Cozinheiro para uma festa de Fim de Ano de uma Empresa de Eventos, despediu-se a ultima hora e quem acham que foram buscar. É mesmo, como eu digo na “hora certa no local certo”. Tentei durante estes anos todos ser cada vez melhor e aperfeiçoar-me. Tinha uma vocação natural, é o que me diziam, um dos meus grandes segredos do empenho e do suposto sucesso que tenho tido é nunca me ter desviado deste caminho de ser já um cozinheiro chefe como ter um Dom para tal e ponto final.

últ. comentários
Uii! São mesmo deliciosos! Thanks!
Adoro estes petiscos!
Olá Susana, é sempre bom receber noticias tuas. Ob...
Ficou uma maravilha!
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Uma excelente ideia, a de usar os cookies na base....
Olá Susana,Ficaram deliciosos, mesmo! Faz-me lembr...
Ficaram tão gulosos...Bjs, Susanahttp://tertuliada...
Olá Susana,Uiii! Se é! Depois da-me o teu feedback...
Deve ser uma delicia, adorei.Bjs, Susanahttp://ter...