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Giving meals visual appeal
Vegetables of every shape and colour were neatly lined up and ready for Le Cordon Bleu interpretation of chicken and rice. Like paints on a palette ready to become art, the ripe and juicy cherry tomatoes linked arms on the vine, while the bright green asparagus stalk competed with the brussels sprouts for the leading “green”. The white plate was a ready canvas.
Photo by Kev Ben ©2012
“Colour brings appetite and makes you hungry,” says Yannick Anton, the executive chef at Le Cordon Bleu Signatures restaurant in Ottawa. “And if you enjoy eating, even better!” he adds laughing.
The visual appeal, as well as the overall presentation of the dish, is just as important as the ingredients. And according to Carol Dombrow, the registered dietitian of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, vegetables are a perfect way to make an attractive and healthy dish.
“You should be excited to eat your food,” she says, “not be sadly pushing mushy peas around your plate. Healthy dishes can, and should, be exciting.”
Chef Anton’s creative take on chicken and rice supports that.
As the pieces start coming together, the mosaic on the plate fills up. The chicken breast is drizzled with a reduction of figs, blueberries, capers and the chicken juices. The chef artfully adds the bright green brussels sprouts and asparagus alongside the roasted cherry tomatoes, splashed with a small amount of olive oil—an homage to his home in Nice, France — and the chicken.
“The first impression when you receive your food has to be ‘wow’,” he says, sprinkling amaranth sprouts on the plate. “That’s already 60 or 70 per cent of your happiness,” he laughs merrily.
The common dish of chicken, rice and vegetables couldn’t have looked more regal.
“It’s all about how you present it,” the chef notes as he knowingly slides a set of silverware beside the tempting plate of art.
Chef Anton’s tips for artful dishes:
- Experiment with different herbs and spices.
- Start with a simple meal and make it elegant.
- Textures are just as important as the taste itself. Be sure to give your taste buds some excitement.
- Roast, grill or caramelize your veggies to add flavour and texture.
- Vary the shapes and colours of your plates to add excitement.
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