A few months ago I've discovered a page where a guy shared his drawings about plating plans, then you can see the result after a little delay too. I really like this idea, because it shows how many creative hours and planning are behind a nice and well-balanced plate.
I wanted to learn about plating and challenge myself at the same time, so I've invited Tristan for a collaboration. I've created this recipe inspired by seasonal ingredients and the beautiful colours of autumn, and tried his method: I drew a plating plan then did it in practice.
I would like to show you, that using basic fine dining and molecular gastronomy tricks at home is absolutely possible as well as presenting a fancy plate for your family and guests even if you are an amateur cook -like me. If you are ready for new challenges, let's try a couple of things out of your comfort zone and enjoy the incredible result!
Before you check my recipe and the method, read a short interview with the chef...
Tristan, you are working as a chef in Bordeaux. What role do you have in this kitchen? For the readers who don't know much about chef roles and specializations, could you please describe what are the main tasks and responsibilities of your position?
I am a versatile chef. I don't want to stay focused on a section; rather, I work with a young and dynamic team and we help each other. I think this is the key to success. I have full responsibility for the kitchen in collaboration with my colleagues, in the kitchen, we are all responsible for and where all of us has a role. I do not impose a hierarchy but rather a professional conscience.
Why did you decide to become a chef? Was that a dream job since your childhood or is the inspiration come a bit later from a famous chef?
I always had an artistic side. I'm behind the furnaces since a very young age. In my opinion cooking is an avocation and above all: a passion. When you start it's always difficult, but I think all the effort you give to this job will come back one day. That's why I give a lot.
How would you describe your style of cooking? Do you have a 'signature dish' or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
I would say my cooking style is inventive and spontaneous. I try to sublimate seasonal products by mixing different culinary influences. Gastronomy has no limit so we must explore it as much as possible.
I do not have a 'signature dish' but the mixture of French cuisine and the rest of the world's is what I like a lot. I think we must break the codes and have to be open to other gastronomic cultures.
How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
I speak to producers and test their products, go to the markets and of course: you have to taste to make sure about the quality.
You have a unique style in plating. What advice would you give to the amateurs who would like to improve their plating skills?
I do not confine to a particular style, I'm just trying to give people visual pleasure before they taste the dish. An advice for amateurs: make it simple and uncluttered, and always think about the plate before plating.
And now let's move to the recipe...
- 2 ostrich steak slices
- Salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram
- 2 sage leaves
- 1 tsp butter
Butternut squash purèe
- 2 handfuls of butternut squash peeled, diced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper
Red wine caviar
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 sachets powder gelatin
- 100 ml oil ice cold
Sautèed wild mushrooms
- 100 g small grey chanterelles
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt, pepper
- 100 g grated Parmesan
- Purple salad or baby leaves, microgreens
- Mix the spices and herbs for the dry rub.
- Cover the meat with the spice blend, place the sage leaves on the meat, one on each steak.
- Heat up a pan to medium heat and melt the butter.
- Sear the steaks for 2 minutes on each side for the result of the pictures. The time depends on if you like the steak rare, medium or well done.
- Rest the meat in a warm place for at least 7 minutes before carving and serving.
Spicy butternut squash purèe
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Put the butternut squash pieces on the butter and add a pinch from each spice, and use the cayenne pepper according to your preferences.
- Put a lid on the pan and keep the pan on low-medium heat till the butternut squash pieces will be soft.
- Use a blender and make the purèe.
Red wine caviar
- Place the oil into a glass or small deep bowl and put it into the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Heat up the wine to medium heat.
- Add the sugar and gelatine, and stir it constantly till you cannot see any sugar and gelatine pieces in the wine.
- Use a straw to transfer the wine jello drops into the cold oil. In the oil the liquid will try to form a perfect ball shape if they are bigger, they will be flatter. Once the little balls are set in the oil, use a strainer to separate them from the oil. I've used ice cold water to rinse them a little bit then transferred them to a paper towel and finally on a plate.
Sautèed wild mushrooms
- Melt the butter in the pan on high heat.
- When it's hot, put the chanterelles and a pinch of salt and pepper into the pan.
- Keep tossing the mushrooms by the pan till their surface will be golden brown.
- Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Use a spoon and create a heaped spoonful portion of Parmesan on the parchment paper, then form it into a circle or any shape you desire, and gently push it down a little bit by the spoon.
- Place it into the oven pre-heated to 200 °C and bake them for 3-5 minutes.
- Let them chill before serving and if you want let's cut or break them into smaller pieces.
This is the plating plan I've created and the plating of my dish in practice below.
For me everything came by instinct since I've never learnt to plate... but I was curious, so after I've shown the plate to Tristan, I asked him to give me a little feedback and point to the weaknesses, because I should learn from my mistakes. He said it's a beautiful plate in general. The weaknesses are: the meat pieces are too big or the side elements -like purèe- could be more and the centre of the plate is a bit empty in his opinion.
As a part of our collaboration, Tristan created a dish in his style at the restaurant, based on the same ingredients or elements I've used in my recipe. Both dishes are different in textures and taste. Now you can see an amateur and a professional plating too since we both had our own ideas about the dish we are creating from these autumnal ingredients.
Tristan's creation was served at the restaurant. He told that the guests were happy with their choice, so it makes me so happy, that even if we have a few hundred miles between us, I was the part of that creation and maybe the success too.
And finally, here is Tristan's plating plan and his plated dish... it looks wonderful, isn't it?