5 Tips for Cooking Restaurant Quality Food at Home


Prep and Plate Like a Pro

Fine dining isn't solely about flavors and taste. It's about the overall sensory experience. Even the most plain, everyday meal feels more exciting when served with good silver, on fine china and by candlelight. It doesn't take much to make your meals a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

Start by setting a proper table. Use the good dishes, cloth napkins and stemware for your drinks. When plating the actual meal, keep these tips in mind:

  • Your plate should be big enough so the food isn't crowded, but not so big that the portions look tiny.
  • Use neutral or white-colored plates to let the colors of the food stand out.
  • Experiment with height and placement -- make a mound of rice instead of a pile. Lean your protein against it.
  • Put the sauce under the meat instead of on top. The meat looks more appetizing and the sauce adds a nice contrast.
  • If you use garnish, use only edible and complimentary items, like a bright yellow lemon wedge for salmon.
  • Try some artistic techniques, like using a small offset spatula to artfully smear sauce across the plate.
  • Wipe the rim of the plate before serving to remove any stray drops of sauce or food.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "Back to Basics: Martha's Cooking School Lessons." MarthaStewart.com. 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/cooking-school-lessons?lnc=a9e6cafb74ece010VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD
  • Bockleman, Christine. "10 Things Your Restaurant Won't Tell You." Smart Money. May 3, 2007. (July 21, 2009) http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ConsumerActionGuide/10ThingsYourRestaurantWontTellYou.aspx
  • Braverman, Eric. "20 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices to Add to Your Diet Now." AlterNet. Dec. 24, 2008. (July 21, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/114694/20_anti-aging_herbs_and_spices_to_add_to_your_diet_now/
  • Chapelle, Emily. "Seven Ways to Present Food Like a Chef." StartCooking.com. 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://startcooking.com/blog/416/Seven-Ways-to-Present-Food-Like-a-Chef
  • Fletcher, Janet. "STOCK TIPS: Chefs offer their do's and don'ts for making this essential base." SFGate.com. Oct. 31, 2007. (July 21, 2009) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/31/FD0JSAGEJ.DTL
  • Gold, Amanda. "Kitchen Essentials: 10 techniques every cook should know." SFGate.com. July 9, 2008. (July 21, 2009) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/08/FDTA11HHDM.DTL
  • "How to Plate Food Like a Pro." How to Cook Gourmet. 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://www.how-to-cook-gourmet.com/platingfood.html
  • Knowlton, Andrew. "Five Tricks to Cook Like a Chef - On a Budget." bonappetit.com. March 5, 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/bafoodist/2009/03/five-tricks-to-cook-like-a-che.html
  • Ramsay, Gordon. "Chef's tips with Gordon Ramsay." The Times. Sept. 8, 2008. (July 21, 2009) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/gordon_ramsay/article4685525.ece
  • "Spice Up Your Meals." Real Simple. 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/recipe-upgrades/spice-up-your-meals-10000001177806/
  • "USDA Prime Graded Beef. The Most Tender & Flavorful of Steaks." PrimeSteakhouses.com. 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://www.primesteakhouses.com/how-usda-grades-beef.html
  • "Your First Kitchen." Epicurious. 2009. (July 21, 2009) http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/kitchenequipment/essentials/firstkitchen


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