Plate & Menu Composition.

Plate & Menu Composition.
That Pops

So, much like the last three threads, I will be discussing “the how to”, of plate, menu and buffet composition. Today, we will start with the basics, plate composition. For myself, I start with the protein, followed by complex carbohydrates and then garnishes. Much of this material is covered in more detail on my education portal, check it out….you may want to become a student.

So, lets begin!

You will find that there is actually very little information on this subject, google it and see! The reason being is that it is a bit of science, acquired with years of practice. There are a few shortcut methods, that I have shared with students and apprentices over the years. I’ll give you a free tip today! Buy or download the following book, Culinary Artistry. It’s a free download or you can borrow it from As I mentioned before, we will break this down into 3 components. protein, carbohydrates and garnishes. Don’t be deceived by the later, garnishes, this is inclusive of many things, sauces, textural items, etc. Also remember, we are speaking not only about entrees, but appetizers, desserts (sort of), salads, and amuse. Here are the steps.


Protein, the building block of matter….that’s why its number one! By protein I don’t mean exclusively animal sources, but also plant based. For example, the typical go to is tofu. Lets use salmon for our main course dish of the day. Questions to ask yourself first. How will I be cooking it? What is the portion size? Will it be part of a grander scheme including shrimp or other complimenting item? And so on….

I use a number of software tools as well to help with this process. Here is one, contact me if you would like to trial the full version for a month.

So we have chosen salmon as our principle protein. lets poach it, and garnish it with pan seared and smoked scallops. Done!


Complex carbohydrates. This includes your starches and vegetables. Here is were the book “Culinary Artistry”, comes in handy for apprentices and amateur cooks. If you have the book, it is organized alphabetically. Go to salmon and look at the list of accompaniments. Bold text suggests best matches, regular text suggests other reliable choices. I will select corn as my starch, as you can do many things with this. Here it is, sweet corn & wild rice pancakes. Done! Now veggies, I like three on a plate. Lets go with artichoke, watercress and red peppers. A nice selection, and you can of course vary the cooking techniques of all three. Sauteed artichokes & watercress, grilled red peppers. Done!


Garnishes. We need a sauce or two, let’s stick with a good classical sauce with a twist. Hollandaise with Champagne, pretty fancy eh? A couple of garnishes will finish the dish. Oven dried tomatoes, fresh tarragon and salmon bacon for texture. Done.


Here is how we will name the dish for the menu.

Poached Atlantic Salmon with wild rice & sweet corn pancakes, Champagne Hollandaise. Locally sourced vegetables. Short and simple, a well versed server can answer any questions about the dish. Done! I should mention a few other points here as well. truth in menu is very important as is menu terminology. If its classic, keep it classic or make it your own….you never know who you are serving, and there knowledge of cuisine. if you have any questions or need help with menu development, contact me.

Cheers, and happy cooking!