Demystifying Modernist Plating: A Guide to Stunning Food Presentation

The phrase, "we eat with our eyes first," has never been truer than in the era of modernist cuisine. A critical component of this culinary art form is the aesthetics of presentation. Modernist plating takes the visual component of dining to new levels, creating dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. Led by Master Chef Rich Rosendale, we will take you through a guide to demystifying the art of modernist plating.

Step 1: Understanding the Canvas

The first step towards masterful modernist plating is understanding your plate as a blank canvas. Like a painter, a chef needs to consider color, texture, and the balance of elements. It's crucial to consider the size, shape, and color of your plate as these factors will influence the overall look of your dish.

Step 2: The Rule of Odd Numbers

An important principle in modernist plating is the rule of odd numbers. Odd numbers of elements are more appealing to the eye and create balance without symmetry, making the dish look natural and less contrived. So, whether you're arranging scallops, dollops of sauce, or garnishes, try to stick to odd numbers.

Step 3: Creating a Focal Point

Just as a piece of art has a focal point, so should your plate. This could be a perfectly cooked piece of meat, an intricately carved vegetable, or a vibrant sauce. Your focal point should be the star of the dish, with the other elements complementing and elevating it.

Step 4: Use Sauces Creatively

In modernist cuisine, sauces are not just accompaniments but an essential part of the overall design. Techniques like sauce smearing, creating dots, or using squeeze bottles to create intricate designs, can elevate the presentation of your dish to a piece of edible art.

Step 5: Playing with Textures and Heights

Creating varying heights and textures can give your dish a multi-dimensional look. Layer your ingredients and use techniques like pureeing, crisping, and grilling to create different textures. These aspects draw the eye and make the dish more exciting to the palate.

Step 6: Color is Key

Vibrant colors can make your dish more visually appealing. Utilize natural colors of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. For example, the vibrant greens of herbs, the rich reds and purples of beets, and the bright orange of carrots.

Step 7: Don't Forget the Negative Space

While it might be tempting to fill every inch of your plate, leaving some negative space can make your dish more visually appealing. This space allows the ingredients to breathe and helps to highlight the main components of your dish.


Mastering modernist plating is a journey that requires practice, creativity, and a keen eye for detail. The ability to turn a plate of food into a work of art is a skill that distinguishes good chefs from great ones. If you'd like to explore modernist plating techniques under the guidance of Master Chef Rich Rosendale, consider joining our upcoming "Modernist Plating & Technique" workshop. This immersive class will provide hands-on experience and expert tips to elevate your plating skills to the next level. Happy plating!