Perfect Plating: Which Food Presentation Technique is Best? *
|Areas of Science||
Cooking & Food Science
|Time Required||Long (2-4 weeks)|
|Material Availability||Readily available|
|Cost||Low ($20 - $50)|
|Safety||Adult supervision is required when using the oven, stove, sharp knives, and kitchen tools.|
AbstractDid you know that people eat with their eyes as well as with their mouths? Food presentation—also called plating techniques or garnishing—makes food appear more appetizing. Checking out how the food looks is the cook's last task and the diner's first. Food that is well-presented is beautiful, colorful, and captivating. Not only does it make the diner really want to eat, but good presentation also allows the diner to identify the food ingredients, their quality, and the technique used in preparation. Poor presentation, such as off-colors, or an overcrowded plate, might make a diner not want to eat the food. Many cultures, like the Japanese, have turned food presentation into a high art, creating a "feast for the eyes," inspired by nature. The Japanese even have a special word for the rules of food presentation—moritsuke.
Figure 1. This photo shows an example of Japanese food presentation. (Wikimedia, 2006.)
In this cooking and food science project, you will explore different food presentation techniques to determine which ones make food appear the most appetizing to your volunteers. You can choose to test one or more presentation methods, including the following:
- Number: Do odd numbers make food more appealing than even numbers? For example, if you are making a salad and you garnish it with five olives (an odd number), does that make the salad appear more attractive than when it is garnished with four (an even number)? Or, if you are serving a meal of stuffed mushrooms or shrimp, do your volunteers think putting five pieces (an odd number) on the plate looks better than six (an even number)?
- Plate or Bowl Size: For a given volume of food, what plate or bowl size looks best to your volunteers?
- Plate or Bowl Color: Does a white serving bowl or plate make the food "pop" visually? Is a patterned plate too distracting?
- Height: Do diners think a meal with a "third dimension" (some height to it) looks more appealing than the same meal without any height?
- Color: Is color essential to making a meal attractive? Blue is not a common color naturally found in foods. Do volunteers find blue unappetizing? Are complimentary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) best?
- Texture: Which looks better to diners? A meal displaying a single texture, or one with a mix of textures, such as both smooth and crunchy foods?
You might also want to experiment with the shapes of food pieces, with sauces around the main dish, with layering or fanning of food pieces, or with the placement of starch, carbohydrate, and protein on a plate (if you are presenting a full meal).
To conduct this science fair project, you will first need to choose which food-presentation techniques, like the ones described above, you want to test. Then you will need to prepare meals and present them in different ways, according to the techniques you have chosen. For example, if you are testing whether volunteers prefer the appearance of odd or even numbers on their plate, you will prepare one plate with an odd number of pieces, and another with an even number. You will try this for several different types of meals. After photographing your presentations in similar lighting, you will ask volunteers to tell you which photographs of different food presentations look the most appetizing to them. Read this article on sample size to determine how many volunteers you will need.
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
This source gives an overview and a history of food presentation:
- Answers Corporation. (2009). Presentation of Food. Retrieved January 14, 2009, from http://www.answers.com/topic/presentation-of-food
News Feed on This Topic
Recent Feedback Submissions
|Sort by Date||Sort by User Name|
What was the most important thing you learned?
What problems did you encounter?
Can you suggest any improvements or ideas?
Science Buddies materials are free for everyone to use, thanks to the support of our sponsors. What would you tell our sponsors about how Science Buddies helped you with your project?
Overall, how would you rate the quality of this project?
What is your enthusiasm for science after doing your project?
Compared to a typical science class, please tell us how much you learned doing this project.
About the same
|Do you agree?||Report Inappropriate Comment|
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
PsychologistWhy people take certain actions can often feel like a mystery. Psychologists help solve these mysteries by investigating the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social aspects of human behavior and the human mind. Some psychologists also apply these findings in order to design better products or to help people change their behaviors. Read more
AnthropologistWhere do we come from? Why do we walk upright? Why do we behave the way we do? These are just some of the big and fascinating questions that anthropologists try to answer. Anthropologists study all aspects of human life, in every region of the world, throughout all time. They might focus on everything from present-day cultures and human behavior, traditions, and prehistoric cultures to the biology and evolution of humans, or the origin and evolution of language. Read more
Food Scientist or TechnologistThere is a fraction of the world's population that doesn't have enough to eat or doesn't have access to food that is nutritionally rich. Food scientists or technologists work to find new sources of food that have the right nutrition levels and that are safe for human consumption. In fact, our nation's food supply depends on food scientists and technologists that test and develop foods that meet and exceed government food safety standards. If you are interested in combining biology, chemistry, and the knowledge that you are helping people, then a career as a food scientist or technologist could be a great choice for you! Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity
Explore Our Science Videos
Stretchy Balloons! Fun STEM Activity
BlueBot 4-in-1 Robotics Kit
Make a Water Strider - STEM Activity