- The Power of Presentation
The Power of Presentation
It’s no secret that first impressions are important. Whether it’s an encounter with a new person, a cover of a new book, or an image of a new movie, within fractions of a second we assess the object of our observation and form an initial liking or disliking for it.
The advertising world makes use of this subtle psychological process, making sure that an advertised product will be instantly associated in our minds with the right qualities. The assumption is that once we have associated the product with a desired value - be it fun, beauty, happiness, or health - we’re more tempted to buy it. This is the core of successful marketing.
This principle is particularly important in the food industry, where it is well known that we ‘eat with our EYES first’, before we even taste the food. It’s the food’s appearance that either appeals to us or not, and if the eyes are pleased, chances are we’ll give it a try. And I’m sure you’ve noticed how appealing food looks in commercials and ads.
This post is about food marketing. But not any type of commercial marketing. Rather, it’s about the marketing YOU do in your kitchen. Think of yourself as an advertiser, your family is the target audience, and your plate is your commercial.
And since we are affected by the way food is presented, we’ll aim to create attractive food presentations on our dining tables. This, by the way, is called ‘plating’ in the restaurant industry.
Our ultimate goal will be to promote healthy food choices for ourselves and our families. And although these strategies can be applied to any food, in this post I chose to focus mostly on fruits and veggies, which unfortunately, although packed with vitamins and other goodies, in most homes are far from being a favorite.
If you’re concerned about time constraints, cooking abilities and budget – worry no more.
All the suggestions in this post require less than 10 minutes to prepare, use ingredients that you probably have (or are very easy to get), and involve no cooking at all. So let’s dive straight in!
The idea of writing about food presentation came to me by chance, when one evening I decided to serve fruit salad as a dessert. True, we often finish supper with fruit, but usually we’d just help ourselves to some fruit from the fridge (or the counter). And I wouldn’t describe this procedure as too exciting.
But that evening I served this:
watermelon, grapes, cherries
Wow, what a difference! It was gobbled up within minutes by adults and kids alike.
Given that it was just some fruit cut up with nothing added, I was quite surprised.
I then analyzed why it prompted such enthusiasm, as opposed to, say, if I just put the same ingredients on the table, but without any special presentation. I’m sure my family would still enjoy it, but with somewhat less eagerness.
Was it the novelty of serving fruit this way? The pleasant twist of turning the watermelon into a serving ball? The colors? The freshness? The fragrance of freshly cut fruit? Or maybe a blend of all the above?
Either way, it looked fun! A happy plate. And it was delish too.
It definitely achieved both goals of appealing to the eyes as well as to my family’s taste buds. And with very little extra effort, it made an impression.
Also, it was a change. All I did was take some fruit and simply cut it and plate it differently, and it turned into a treat!
So Bingo! We have a winning formula: same ingredients – different presentation.
In the same spirit, a few days later I tried this (which was welcomed with similar excitement):
cantaloupe, orange, peach, plum
Would the same principle work with veggies?
I don’t see why not. Veggies - like fruits - are delightfully colorful. Let them do the marketing on the plate for you. And if your family is not that big on veggies, an attractive presentation might just do the trick and tempt them into trying.
It worked in our family when we served this:
Time to practice what we preach.
There are endless options to experiment with, and you can apply the same principles to any food you wish to promote.
Use your imagination. Think of your plate as a canvas. Get playful!
A few quick tips:
1. Keep it simple. Keep it short.
Time is money, as the saying goes.
The point is not to keep you in the kitchen for hours of elaborate, time consuming, labor intensive cooking.
It really shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
2. Play with shape and color.
This should be easy. Fruits and veggies come in so many shapes and colors, as if they were artistically designed to captivate the eyes.
Combine different colors: red, green, yellow, orange. It’s like a flower bouquet on your plate. These are nature’s ornaments. Let this natural beauty speak for itself.
And they come in countless different shapes too - big, small, long, short, leafy, pointy, flat, fat, round, oval, etc. What’s more, use a knife to double and triple the amount of possibilities:
A cucumber for example, can be cut into dices, sticks, rings, chunks. Same goes for carrots and zucchini.
An apple can be cut into halves, quarters, thin slices or thick slices. Or it can be served whole.
You get the point.
3. Use clear glass to serve milk and smoothies.
There is something in that perfect pure white that shines at us through the clear glass and suggests a refreshing, cooling treat, loaded with health benefits.
4. Novelty is key.
Once you’ve accomplished a successful presentation, do yourself a favor and do not repeat it over and over. You want to keep your family on their toes, not to wither the magic. Serve it from time to time, but not too often.
5. Looking for a new way to serve oranges, or any other citrus fruit?
Surprise your family with a pleasant twist, and squeeze the oranges into juice (remember to include the flesh for all the vitamins it provides)
Serve in a clear glass. It’s freshness in the making.
Give it a try.
Now it’s your turn.
As Chef Sean Bone puts it: “Food presentation is just as essential to the success of a dish as its taste and flavour. The way the food looks on the plate is what tempts our eyes and makes you want to taste it.” 1
I encourage you to explore, create, and play with this powerful tool called ‘Food Presentation’. And share your pictures and ideas on our Facebook page!
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