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Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation Hardcover – September 25, 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


In the world of cooking, presentation is every bit as important as flavor. This idea is critical for restaurants, where a dish's appearance could determine the difference between excellent reviews and bankruptcy. Enter Styler's new work, a step-by-step recipe manual for home cooks interested in making their dishes look as good as they taste. This is no ordinary cookbook; think of it as a compilation of ideas. Ten of the nation's top chefs here introduce eight styles of plating. Delineated by chapters focusing on the art and principles of plating, the brief but packed text allows readers to indulge in various styles, including "Minimalist," "Artist," "Architect," "Contemporary European Style," "Asian Influence," and "Desserts: Classic and Contemporary." The book features photographs of chefs preparing dishes and is sparsely designed with an eye to beauty, allowing food design to take center stage. Styler doesn't seek to be an authority on plating but instead hopes that this work will serve as an introduction to the art. Highly recommended for large public libraries.
—Steven G. Fullwood, Schomburg Ctr. Lib., New York (Library Journal, October 15, 2006)

"Professional and home cooks…can take culinary presentation to the next level by learning the secrets of contemporary food styling." (Cakes & Sugarcraft, Autumn 2007)

“Professional and home cooks who are passionate about food can take culinary presentation to the next level…” (Inspired by Food, Summer 2008)

"...take culinary presentation to the next level by learning the secrets of contemporary food styling." (Inspired by Food, Winter 2008)

From the Inside Flap

An inspiring book for professionals andsophisticated home cooks who wantto take their skills to the next level,Working the Plate goes beyond adding adrizzle of something here or a sprig ofsomething there to explore both the principlesand the art of food presentation. Christopher Styler shares the secrets of seven contemporaryplating styles: The Minimalist, The Architect, The Artist, Contemporary European Style, Asian Influences, The Naturalist, and DramaticFlair. He also reveals the thoughts of ten leading chefs on the art of plating, from Terrance Brennan and Emily Luchetti to Suzanne Goin and Marcus Samuelsson.

Working the Plate includes several examples of each plating style. Stunning color photographs show both finished plates and the steps involved to duplicate the techniques behind such dishes as Roasted Quail with Chard and Potatoes, Parmesan Crusted Lamb Chops with Swirled Root Puree and Pea Sauce, Skate and Angel Hair Pasta with Caper Butter, Soba-Tofu Salad in a Nori Cone, and Bird's Nest Brunch.

Plating provides the all important first impression and sets the stage for the sensoryexperience of enjoying a great meal. With this overview of popular plating styles, you'll see how you can vary approaches and add adistinctive dash of élan and panache to the dishes you serve.

Discover the plating philosophies of these renowned chefs:

Wayne Harley Brachman, Porter House, New York, NY

Terrance Brennan, Artisanal, Picholine, New York, NY

Andrew Carmellini, A Voce, New York, NY

Suzanne Goin, Lucques, AOC, Los Angeles, CA

Sharon Hage, York Street, Dallas, TX

James Laird, Restaurant Serenade, Chatham, NJ

Emily Luchetti, Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco, CA

Tadashi Ono, Matsuri, New York, NY

Kent Rathbun, Abacus, Jasper's, Dallas, Texas

Marcus Samuelsson, Aquavit, Riingo, New York, NY


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047147939X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471479390
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George R. Wilmot on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Since becoming a truly dedicated foodie 5-10 years ago, I've been looking for a good book on plating, but have never found one. With the publication of this new book I thought my search would be over. I was way wrong.

I'm not a design-oriented person, but this book is a classic example of art direction (photography, layout, design) that is so misguided that it totally destroys whatever educational content may be present (pretty little, in this case) . At times, it made me want to scream, like on p. 153, where the color and typeface choices make the type almost illegible. While the book's look might work with another cookbook, it just DOESN'T FIT with the purported purpose of the book, which was to teach cooks how to "work the plate" to create artful presentations. As mentioned in the excellent previous review by B. Marold, the only photographs of the finished plates are low-angle, shallow depth-of-field pics that look nice but are actually instructional hindrances. The series of 3-4 small demonstration photos (taking up an entire double page, with way too much "white space") in each chapter usually show things that are basic and don't really need photos (like dusting a plate with cinnamon and chile powder) and have minimal educational value. There are just a handful of neat techniques (like the chocolate bowls made by dipping a baloon in melted chocolate), but again informational content seems oddly and poorly coupled with the layout/design.

In defining different styles of food presentation (minimalist, architectural, contemporary European, etc), the author makes a welcomed attempt at providing a conceptual framework to help guide the reader.
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Some nice pictures...many cookbooks have better. No discussion on style or technique and certainly no recipes worth buying the book for. Check it out at a bookstore or library before you purchase it...watching a food network show will give you more information on plating than this book will in my opinion. There is also the fact this book is TINY, not worth the money or a second look it is so lacking in information. So disappointing. I was at least expecting pictures of several presentations of different courses even if there was not a lot of explanation, a picture is truly worth a thousand words when developing this skill. Did I mention this book is a big disappointment.
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`Working the Plate' by cookbook writer and TV cooking show producer, Christopher Styler offered great promise as a text on an arcane corner of culinary artistry which chefs such as Bobby Flay and Mario Batali can do so effortlessly on `Iron Chef America', and yet when mere mortals try to do the same, we come up all thumbs.

The hefty pricetag from the classy textbook publishing Wiley gave further promise that the book had weighty promise. Before I cracked the covers, I itemized a list of things I would expect to find in such a book, such as knife and mandoline techniques; sauce making; squeeze bottle techniques and general techniques for decorating with multi-colored sauces, ring mold carpentry (well, PVC pipe cutting, really). In short, I expected something like a `Martha Stewart Plating Handbook' where every technique is explained in exquisite detail. That is not what this book is about.

That is not to say that there are no good plating ideas in this book. Especially ideas you are not likely to find in cookbooks other than those from the very high-end culinary artists such as Keller, Rippert, Boulud, Portale, and Tramonto, or on `Iron Chef America'! There are several knockout ideas here which are actually relatively easy to do, as long as you have the time and some basic knowledge on how to work with the raw materials.

My favorite example of this situation is the excellent little technique used to plate the `All-American Sundae Chocolate Bowl'. In a nutshell, the technique involves coating half of a simple small rubber balloon with melted chocolate, cool the chocolate, burst the balloon, and extract your thin chocolate bowl in which your ice cream or anything else you want is served.
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I have to say the claims made about the book hooked me....in a big way. Being a culinary student and wanting reference material to help me perfect the skill of plating, I thought this book would be a great addition to my library. I was wrong....way wrong. It is very light in content....I was looking for a book that talked about plating....this had claims for foodies and culinary students. I would say that if you fit this demographic then you are already further advanced in your plating skills. The book is very basic....basic enough that I would say it doesn't deserve the title..."Working the Plate". I read it cover to cover....which takes about 1 hour. Truly a disappointment.

Lofty claims.....light on content......not what I was looking for. If you are looking for a good book on plating your money would be better spent elsewhere.
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