STW Flicker Challenge for October: Plate it Up!

pork chops verde

I had two different ideas for this month’s challenge. But an article on plating in today’s Seattle Times pre-empted them both, and inspired me to create this month’s Plate it Up! theme. The article is about transforming a boring plating into something that has more appeal. Despite the title of the piece, which implies that it will be mainly about garnishing, the tips include do’s and don’ts about how to layout the food, how to think about color, and (a little) on saucing. It’s a short read, but a good one to kick off the challenge. Go read it now, so the rest of this post makes sense.

Back so soon? Did you read it? Good.

First off, I’m curious as to what you thought of the example photo. Did the after photo look better to you? And if so, how much better?

Secondly, here’s where you really come in… what would you do to the plate to make it even more appealing? Show us with this month’s post. No, you don’t have to plate the same dishes… but do try to combine different dishes onto one plate, and make the most of them. This is something I tend to avoid doing… and one of the things I’ve noticed about most cooking magazines and cookbooks… the photo shows just one cooked item, not an item, plated, as you probably would if you were actually serving at home or in a restaurant. I know one reason that they do this is that if they don’t give the recipes for everything on the plate, they get letters asking about it (even if it’s just a salad!) Another reason? It’s hard to make it look good.

But, that’s what you are going to do this month. Plate up multiple (at least 2, but 3 is better) dishes onto a plate. Think about avoiding monotony… but also keeping it simple. Like hairstyles, a little flare is good, a bouffant isn’t.

The usual rules and are up on the Flickr group… the things like be constructive, take the photos during the month if possible, 3 photos per person and the last day will be around October 31st, give or take a few days.

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  • http://www.luculliandelights.com ilva

    To be honest I think it looks much much worse after their styling. It looks a bit like it was dropped onto the plate from some height. But I think that they managed to make the individual items look better, if not together at least on their own, so something good came out of it! This is a hard challenge, real hard! I hope I’ll have the time to participate because it’s interesting!

  • http://thirdandfairfax.blogspot.com/ santos.

    that ‘after’ photo is one hot mess. i’m actually a fan of bouffant (i *love* amy winehouse’s beehives, i want one), but that…that is a rat’s nest. your readers can do better in their sleep!

  • http://habeasbrulee.com Danielle

    The only thing I like about the after photo is that they got some color into the couscous. Other than that, it’s an unappealing mess.

  • http://blog.fatfreevegan.com SusanV

    I’m not a fan of the straight down from overhead shot, so both presentations leave me cold. When I put more than one item on a plate, which is rare, I tend to shoot from an angle and use a vegetable as a background for the main dish. I agree with the other posters about a couple of the dishes looking better (couscous and red accents are good), but on the whole, it’s a mess! I’d use that as an example of how NOT to apply sauce.

  • http://bloodsugargto.blogspot.com/ Graeme

    I think I echo the sentiments of most people here – The before shot is bad, but the after shot is even worse. They’re tried to polish crap, I think.

    There’s too much on the plate to begin with, so styling in that case will do nothing. It looks like someone put the before plate, outside in the wind.

    Can’t wait for this one though, should be a lot of fun.

  • http://marriedwithdinner.com Anita

    I’m with the others — when I first read the article, my thought was “oh dear, why didn’t they call L or Molly!”

    Another great theme; I hope I can find time for it this month… I;ve been slacking.

  • TD

    I have to make this unanimous (thusfar) and agree that while the before is no attention-grabber, after looks like a stir fry gone wrong. The food stylists at the Times need to pick up a few copies of Donna Hay magazine and start taking notes!

  • http://stilllifewith.com L

    Glad it’s not just me then. The whole reason that I created this month’s challenge is because I knew you guys could do better.

    Now to give a tiny bit of slack to the article (not much, I think the presentation is trying far to hard and still not coming close to beautiful, elegant or mouthwatering)… my guess is that it could have looked better in person than it did in photos. Styling for one doesn’t necessarily mean it will look good for the other.

    Still, to get the point across well, I think they should have optimized for the photo. In particular that fan of beans? Looks like they want dinner to look like a rare tropical bird. Ouch.

    -L

  • http://kitchenbeard.livejournal.com/ kitchenbeard

    I think alot of the problem with the 2 examples is they’re appraoching it form a 2 dimensional stand point, and ignoring that possibilities of height with plating. Arranging the couscous as a base and the stacking thepeas and sliced shicken over and then saucing, would create a more attractive set up and making use of the 3rd dimension.

  • liz

    The plate on the right looks like someone was pretty stoned when they plated it and got a bit overinvolved.

    Sure, the plate on the left is pretty plain, but I just want to eat, I don’t want to have to deconstruct anything.

    They should have gone for more subtle styling on the plate on the right rather than picking “things that explode” as a theme.

  • Kavey

    Am so glad to read the other comments as I thought I was alone in snorting back a giggle when I read “Because we tried to show as many techniques as possible on one plate, this comes dangerously close to overdone.”

    “Close?” I thought. This is so overdone it looks like the first dish was thrown into a food processor and then splashed back out onto the plate.

    I actually do appreciate the points they are trying to make about dressing and garnishing the dish but… their example makes me want to run the other way!

  • C

    Funny. That thing on the right is hideous. There must have been a chef involved. lol

  • http://dirttodish.blogspot.com Katherine Gray

    I’m no food stylist (I just come here to drool) but as an eater, I don’t like the after photo, either. It’s overdone and not accessible. I’d be afraid to eat it.

  • http://marriedwithdinner.com Anita

    On a completely unrelated note… I know this isn’t a piano bar, but do you take requests? :D

    I seem to be taking a lot of sandwich shots lately, and I would love to have some tips. I can’t seem to wrap my brain around how to make them look nice.

  • http://nikas-culinaria.com nika

    This is a me too comment :-) but I wanted to add that my first reaction to the right plate was “Yikes, that looks prickly” The funky fan sharpness of the green beans totally distracted me. I think most of us know on some level that we would not want our beans all splayed out like that because they are gonna chill off really fast versus if they are all nestled up into a pile like a lot of green cozy hamsters … ok, can ya tell the green beans were really distracting to me?

  • http://www.suburban-gourmet.com Matt

    Phenomenal photos as usual!