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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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Food needs to taste good. It also needs to look good.


Most humans recognize unity and good composition. This is why we are so sensitive to culinary presentations. We respond to stimuli and psychological perceptions influenced by our background, education, trends, etc…


In a restaurant kitchen, when they plate food, chefs influence that perception by effectively following a set of guidelines and bring harmony to the look of a culinary presentation. In other words, chefs engage diners.


While it took me 6 years of culinary school and 17 years of work experience to figure out some presentation conundrums, there are also a few easy chef tips that will dramatically improve your plate presentations. And lucky you, you just happened to visit the right page for that. Here they are. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think.


  1. Use large, simple, white plates.
    Round, square, or rectangular; the choice is yours. But colored, funny shaped plates or bowls usually distract the eye from the star of the show: your food. Center your food and leave the rest clean; that’s the principle of ”white” or “negative” space. White space allows the elements to exist at all and is key to composition. It reinforces the elements of the presentation.
    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. Crowded food looks horrible.

  2. Work with the right tools.
    Plating needs its own tools.




  3. Add color!
    Respect natural colors. Enhance color by cooking; don’t destroy it!
    Increase color saturation by cooking with the appropriate techniques.
    Small, high contrast elements usually have as much impact as larger, duller elements.






  4. Know that guy: Louis Camille Maillard.
    He’s the inventor of the “Maillard reaction”, which may very well be the quintessential phenomenom in the kitchen. Take the time to sear meats, fish or vegetables in order to make a nice crust.






  5. Free-form it!
    Free-form plating is in. Forget about height. Forget about structure. Make it looks like you’re taking a walk in the forest and you happen to stumble upon the ingredients naturally. I call that “organized randomness”. Free-form plating is meant to be more fluid, more natural.




  6. Keep it simple.
    Complicated presentations usually miss the point and distract from the wholesomeness of the food. Simplicity is hard to achieve. But trust me, there is beauty in it.




  7. Rule of odds.

    The rule of odds is used in many art disciplines, in particular painting, photography and advertising. It states that objects displayed in odd numbers seem to bring unity to a composition. The logic behind this rule is that by displaying, three, five, seven, etc… items instead of even numbers, there is always one item that looks framed by the surrounding ones, which looks harmonious. Even numbers tend to bring symmetry in the composition, which appears less natural.

    When slicing a grilled chicken breast to place atop a salad, for instance, it is best to make five slices instead of four or six. Likewise, when plating asparagus in combination with other vegetables, it is best to place three or five instead of four or six.


  8. Add freshness!
    Always choose the freshest products (It always shows).






  9. Create focus.
    Playing on the unusual color of ingredients creates a focal point. For instance, using green tomatoes, or yellow raspberries or blood orange brings creativity to the plate and engage the diner.







  10. Resting time.
    Meat needs to rest. A rule of thumb is to let it rest 1/2 of the cooking time. If you grill a tenderloin steak for 10 minutes, let it rest for 5 minutes. This will allow for the meat fibers to rehydrate from the inside out (since searing pushes the juices in), make it way more tender, and your steak won’t leak on the plate.


  11. Use clean plates.
    It sounds like an obvious one, but I see way too many fingerprints and towel streaks on the edge of plates. Not appetizing.
    You may want to prepare a little bowl filled with white vinegar, and a clean towel to clean the edge of the plate.  
  12. Fluff. Don’t squish.
    The best example to illustrate this is greens. When plating a salad of fresh greens, make sure you don’t squish it down against the plate. Work with your hands (use gloves) and give it height. Fluff it! Make it look light and airy and big; Not flat.


13. Visualize the end result.
It’s easier to get somewhere if you know where you’re going. Visualize your finished plate will help you with the process.



   14.       Use edible, relevant garnishes.
Enough rosemary sprigs stuck straight into the mashed potatoes!



15.  And pluuh-ease… stop that stupid 90′s trend of sprinkling chopped parsley on the rim of the plate, or drizzling sauce in a “Z” pattern. You’re showing your age.


publicado por Chef Michael Rocha às 00:17

This post is about the technique of cooking vegetables so they keep their natural, vibrant colors.


In culinary arts, the importance of color is easy to grasp. One must see a black & white photo of a dish and compare it with a nicely colored one to realize that color is essential to bring unity. And unity is what we’re shooting for.


The complexity of color

When I first got seriously interested in color for culinary purposes, I realized that the physics of color is extremely complex and far beyond the scope of this little tiny blog of mine. I’m no dummy, but I’m not a theoritical physicist either. I’m just a chef trying to understand how using color helps me and others plate my food. Check out the Wikipedia page about color; if you can understand it, you live in Florida, you work for Nasa, and they send you in orbit once in a while.

The way we perceive colors is complex. We see colors because the human brain perceives through the eye different stimulations from the spectrum of light associated with objects. Our eyes can distinguish millions of different colors. For that reason and others, composing a colorful culinary display is a challenge.
To make things even more complicated, color composition is utterly contextual. A physical color not only is subject to physical and psychological perception, but our perception is also influenced by environment and how colors interact with each other. In other words, a color does not have very much impact on its own, but at the contrary needs others to reinforce itself. For instance, the color of a carrot in your veggie plate may look more or less orange depending on where it sits next to. This point, of course, represent the greatest challenge for a chef dealing with attractive color composition.

I’ll stop right there; I already lost enough readers between the beginning of this post and this sentence. In reality, it’s a little less abstract.

Why is color so important to the food we eat anyway?

The dominance of color

In the wild, for instance, herbivorous primates select appropriate leaves by their color, because it is the best way to collect information about the environment. As humans, we are programmed to look at food items and their colors to determine what is edible, ripe or spoiled. Today, we are still very receptive to the color of our foods, and we remain sensitive to those closely connected to nature. Blue food, for instance, is naturally rare, so we do not respond to it as much as other colors. As a result, the color blue is considered an appetite suppressant. On the other hand, bright green, red or yellow colored vegetables, extremely abundant in nature, are colors that we easily recognize and therefore are naturally attracted to.

Some scientific studies have shown that color actually influences taste on diners. Research volunteers in one study could for instance taste imaginary differences between two identical food products, one of which had previously been darkened with food coloring and thus had a different color. The same volunteers also tasted no difference between identically-colored food items, even when one of these was sweetened enough to alter its taste. In other words, the color of food dominates its taste. This is why brightly colored foods seem to taste better than plain foods. (via Erick Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation)

Diners expect carrots to look bright orange, spinach bright green and salmon a deep pink/orange. Therefore, the techniques used to prepare or cook ingredients must take into consideration the intention for the finished product. Respecting colors means respecting cooking techniques.

Which brings me to my next point: Let’s concentrate, for instance, on what is arguably the best way to bring sparkling colors to your plate: Blanching vegetables.

From Wikipedia again:
“Blanching is a cooking term that describes a process of food preparation wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process.”


Blanching somehow saturates the natural, vibrant colors of vegetables. That way, you can convey a sense of freshness, seasonality and joviality to the plate. There are two very important points. First, you need to plunge vegetables in BOILING water. And second, you need to shock them in an ICE BATH. Cold; then hot. It’s that thermal shock that fixes the pigments in the vegetable. Green vegetables (chlorophylle) look greener. Orange or red vegetables (carotene) look more vibrant too.



I will add the following comment, though: For the purpose of blanching vegetables to enhance their color, “steaming” is actually good too, and I’d say even better than using boiling water. There is no lost of flavor/color in the water.




The timing for blanching vegetables is important. In restaurants, we often use the term “flash-steaming”. Because really, most vegetables benefit from being just in and out the steamer (or the boiling water) in no time. Beginners often are afraid of undercooking vegetables. But really, we can eat our veggies raw and they don’t taste that bad: carrots, radishes, peas, asparagus, peppers, all can be eaten raw. So beginners, please take the risk of undercooking your veggies.

Disrespecting the classic technique of blanching or steaming, for instance by falling short of using an ice bath, may turn green vegetables brown, resulting in a less appetizing result.

For instance, you will see on the left the difference between a set of vegetables (above) that have NOT been shocked in ice water, and a second set of vegetables (below) that have been. I know that at first, the difference is minimal. But you will notice that the radishes on the top, for instance, have a duller color than the more vibrant set at the bottom. Same with the asparagus and, less noticeably, the carrots.


Quick advices when using color for culinary presentation:

  • Always choose the freshest ingredients.
  • Keep the finished result in mind.
  • Choose cooking techniques that will enhance color, not dilute them.
  • Take the time to sear meats, fish or vegetables in order to make a nice crust.
  • Avoid dullness.
  • Increase color saturation by cooking with the appropriate techniques.
  • Small, high contrast elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements.
  • Large, white plates usually provide a high contrast to plated foods.
  • Think in terms of color palette.
  • Playing on the unusual color of ingredients creates a focal point. For instance, using green tomatoes, or yellow raspberries or blood orange brings creativity to the plate.

Examples of commonly-used colors:

  • The orange of saffron rice
  • The sparkling white of steamed halibut
  • The bright green of edamame beans.
  • The dark purple of balsamic reduction.
  • The saturated red of confite tomatoes.
  • The deep maroon of chocolate.

I won’t even start with the notion of contrast; this will be the topic of another post. But as a general rule, chefs will want to increase the contrast in their composition, in order to enhance appearance with vivid, saturated and colorful presentations, and contrast those colors with their support (plate, platter).

Common visually-appealing, high-contrast combinations include:

  • Brown and white:
    Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream
    Chestnut and turnip
  • Red and white:
    Tomato and mozzarella salad
    Nigiri sushi (raw tuna atop oval-shaped rice)
  • Orange
    Fried, sunny side up egg
  • Green and white:
    Sea bass and spinach
  • White and blue:
    Panna cotta and blueberries
  • White and black:
    Rice and beans
  • Cream and brown:
    Flan (custard and caramel)


publicado por Chef Michael Rocha às 00:09

| 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.

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