Oh sure, go ahead and serve me nachos in a sink
Oh sure, go ahead and serve me nachos in a sink
09 AUGUST 2019 7:44 AM

Creative plating can enhance a meal, but sometimes people go too far and then things get weird.

Presentation is a part of every meal, but sometimes it’s taken too far. Too much focus on presentation can seem weird or unnecessary at best and completely off putting at worst.

My news editor has shared with you posts from hoteliers who use social media site Reddit in their TalesFromTheFrontDesk subreddit. Today, I would like to introduce to you the subreddit known as WeWantPlates. The name, as you can surmise, comes from customers who just want a plate, not a bookshelf, a sink full of nachos or a Scotch egg in a trophy.

As you peruse the subreddit, you’ll see pictures of what someone has deemed a ridiculous way to serve food. Often, that is a correct assessment. Sometimes the presentation is a bit odd, especially if you aren’t expecting it, but it’s not anything horrible, such as this crab served on ice sculpted in the shape of a tongue. There is absolutely an art to meal presentation, and art is supposed create an emotional response in you.

On the other hand, there’s definitely stuff out there that just makes you scratch your head, like bacon hanging from clothespinsbread in a paper bag with a serving of butter on a stone and sandwiches on tennis rackets. I’m sure there are reasons behind serving food this way, but it’s not exactly obvious to everyone who orders these dishes.

By the way, those last three examples were reportedly from hotels. I don’t quite get why the food was served in this way, but there’s a good chance I just don’t understand all the intricacies of meal presentation. I’m going to guess that most people likely fall into this camp as well. There are definitely people out there who love seeing all the different ways food can be served and really get into the artistic creativity behind it. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if the vast majority of people just don’t get it.

Preparing and serving a meal in a creative way for the sake of art is one thing. Serving pizza on a skateboard or whatever this is served in an umbrella come across as trying too hard and not trying hard enough. I mean, I get that we’re in the Instagram age and you want an image of your food to go viral or something, but at some point, the customers want to actually enjoy eating their food, not figuring out how to eat it.

Oh, and another thing, how clean can some of these things actually be? In looking into this subject, I was surprised to learn that wooden cutting boards (a common substitute for plates) are generally pretty safe to serve food on, even if they are scored, because certain types of wood have antimicrobial properties, but it has to be a hardwood compared to a softwood.

How do you make sure that umbrella is clean? Same question, but for rocks. Do you just throw them in your commercial dishwasher? What does your kitchen staff think about having to clean these things? Or do you just throw it away after one use, creating unnecessary waste (hope you still washed it before your served food on it though)?

Go ahead and be creative with your meal presentation, but make sure it’s not to the detriment of your guests enjoying your food. Do it because you’re trying to create art, not because you’re looking for attention. From the guest perspective, I would imagine that when a table is served their appetizers in a shoe, they’re thinking “We want plates.”

Do you want your hushpuppies in a pair of Hush Puppies? Do you think it absolutely makes sense to serve soup through a colander that distributes broth to an entire table in a shared eating experience? Am I a philistine diner? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me at bwroten@hotelnewsnow or @HNN_Bryan.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact and editor with any questions or concerns. 

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