I’ve been meaning to write about garnishes for awhile, but the topic keeps getting pushed by the wayside for other areas of interest.
Garnishes make me a touch crabby (who knew?) because chefs use them out of context more often than not. As a result, instead of adding to the plate presentation, the garnish diminishes or distracts. Think of it this way: The garnish needs to be in alignment with the plate and what you are trying to communicate.
Here are some examples.
Onions. Because they are inexpensive chefs tend to use them to garnish just about everything. I tell people in the pre-planning process that under no circumstances are onions to be used as a garnish. Why? They smell, and the flavor bleeds into the food.
I was working in Arizona a couple of years ago and the chef placed onions cut to look like flowers on all the salmon. Really? That breaks every rule of garnishing. The onion is NOT in line with the flavor profile of salmon, and it looks not only bad, but stupid.
Herbs. Another one of my pet peeves is when a chef sticks a garnish in the food. We often see a stick of rosemary stuck right in the middle of a steak. Or in this picture, a sprig of mint in the middle of a cake. Ask yourself what purpose does mint have in the middle of the cake? The answer: None!
It’s unconvenient to the guests because the first thing they will do is pull it out. This is a toffee-flavored cake, and it would have made more sense to garnish with candied orange zest. Now look at the vanilla ice cream. It just blends into the white of the plate. I had the sprig of mint moved to compliment the ice cream and put some color on the plate.
Orchids. This is my last example. Besides, orchids are overused.
Orchids in a zucchini pickled salad?
Enough said. This is my story for now, and I’m sticking to it.