The plating trend that some chefs find vexing

 scallops with sauce

When you eat at a fine-dining establishment, it’s become commonplate to find precisely arranged droplets of sauce or a discrete schmear of puree on your plate. The trend started many years ago and shows no signs of abating, but not everyone finds it pleasing, says Nina Martyris on NPR’s ‘The Salt‘. 

In an article titled ‘Haute Dots of Sauce – or a Horror Show on a Plate?’, Martyris finds that the precision placement of sauces, purees, and coulis “have become the embodiment of what many customers resent as an increasing fussiness and pretension suffusing the world of food.” She isn’t alone in her disdain of the tiny droplets and thin squiggles. 

Chef Jeremiah Tower isn’t a fan of the plating technique. In an interview with Bon Appetit Magazine, he complained that it was difficult to know how he is supposed to eat these accompaniments, adding that “A spoonful of sauce slid on the plate looks like the cat’s ass has been used to drag the purée across.”

Martyris posits that the trend started in the kitchen of Joël Robuchon, although she doesn’t provide much evidence of that claim. However, he certainly made consistent use of the technique. Chef Eric Ripert recounted his experience working for Robuchon, where he described having to “drop two dozen perfectly formed dots of red coral juice” on plates in a hot kitchen as “a fresh slice of hell.”

Whether you view the twee drops and drizzles as an art form or an annoyance, they will likely be around for some time to come. Although they’ve become de rigueur in restaurants, precision drops don’t show up all that often in the EYB Library. They do grace the Hokkaido scallops cured with lime sugar, with green strawberries, coriander & wood sorrel from Food Arts Magazine, pictured at top.

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  • mjes  on  December 7, 2017

    One does find the same sensibility in one surprising places:

  • annmartina  on  December 7, 2017

    I especially hate it with desserts. I don't want a hot fudge sundae with dots of hot fudge surrounding a scoop of ice cream. I want it poured over the top!

  • sir_ken_g  on  December 7, 2017

    Spanish tapas have really taken to this.
    I be the traditional tapas bar customers do not approve.

  • annmartina  on  December 7, 2017

    I also have to say that I found the photo above disturbing in an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" kind of way, even though it is probably delicious.

  • lkgrover  on  December 7, 2017

    The photo looks like a beautiful work of art, perhaps an avant-garde sculpture design. The presentation does NOT look like food.

  • Rinshin  on  December 8, 2017

    I appreciate beautifully presented foods, but I do not care for dots and smears which do nothing to the taste. Totally dislike foams of any kind.

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