You get thousands and thousands of books with recipes of all sorts but it’s hard to find anything on how to present your food. I always wondered why there aren’t tons of books avaliable for a topic as important as this. After all, it’s the eye that makes first contact with the food, not the tongue. In my opinion the presentation of the food gives the guest an impression on how much the chef values him. Good food that’s badly presented makes a bad first impression. You know what they say: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. Some chefs like Thomas Keller handle this topic in their books but mainly for their own specific recipes. I had been looking for a book that explains the basics of plating, the tools, the processes, etc. for ages until I stumbled over this book. Published in 2019, it’s rather new. As far as I know this is so far the only book that concentrates only on the topic of plating. There are chapters on different chefs who explain how they plate their dishes. For each example they give, they explain in detail why they did it the way it was done. This helps to understand plating which is an art of its own. Other chapters deal with the tools that are used for a professional presentation of the food.
There are also chapters on Colour, Texture, Ceramics, Aroma and Shape. What I find very valuable are step by step examples on how to prepare a plate. Even simple meals like just some Asparagus can be presented in a very appealing way.
This is the book I’ve always been looking for. If you’re an ambitious cook, go for it. It doesn’t come cheap but it’s worth every cent. Highly recommended.
(Unpaid Advertising) This book was recommended to my by Tommy Hart, the “Masked Chef” (https://themaskedchef.net). The author, Fergus Henderson, is the founder and chef of St. John restaurant in London. He was awarded a Michelin Start in 2009. He does things his own way. He never had a formal training as a cook and he never worked under another chef, so instead of being influenced by other chefs, he actually influences them. This book “Nose To Tail Eating”, which he published 1999 is a milestone which actually changed cooking. It started the “nose To Tail”-movement which many chefs subscribe to today. Nowadays, over twenty years after the book was first published, Nose To Tail is a well known slogan. In 1999 though, it was revolutionary. Showing respect to the animal by not killing it for just a few part and leaving the rest of the body to rot was unheard of at the time. The book contains recipes for preparing many things that were previously regarded as waste and were thrown away. There are several recipes for Duck’s Legs and Necks, Lamb’s Tongues, Hearts and Brains, Pig’s Tails, Tripe and Trotters as well as many other parts of the animal.
It does contain a lot of traditional recipes as well though. Basically, everything you can imagine is covered. True “Nose To Tail”. The book itself is very matter-of-factly. 233 pages, an introduction absolutely worth reading. Mainly text, few (black and white) photos, one recipe per page, sometimes on two pages, it’s nothing you’d read from start to end but rather an essential book in your library which you consult whenever you want to prepare that special meal. The recipes are written in an easily comprehensible way. Every step is nicely described and easy to follow with a bit of experience. That said, it’s not a book for an absolute beginner but rather for the experienced cook who wants to take his cooking to another level and has respect for the animal he’s preparing. Highly recommended.
(Unpaid Advertising) This is my favorite book on baking bread. Like other books, it contains a lot of tasty recipes. Unlike others though, the largest part of the book deals with what happens „behind the scenes“. Reading this book, you’ll learn a lot about chemical and biological processes, ingredients like grains and sprouts, as well as milling, vitamins and minerals, fibers and a lot of other topics around sourdough bread.
The author, Vanessa Kimbell, has a very interesting background. She spent some time in France where she worked in a traditional bakery. After she returned to the UK, she continued working as a baker. When she became ill and couldn’t digest any wheat anymore, she had to give up baking and followed a gluten-free diet for many years. At some point, she returned to France to show her then husband her former French home. There, she couldn’t resist the smell and ate some freshly baked bread, expecting the worst. Interestingly, it seemed as though her problems were gone and she could eat as much bread as she wanted to without any problems. Back in the UK she bough a loaf of bread, ate some and promptly fell ill again. It was then that she realized that while she had no problems with the French bread, while the commercial bread from the UK was indigestible for her. This led her to take a scientific approach to the matter and to find out what was causing this and what the differences were. One result of these efforts is this book which not only is a collection of recipes but also answers many questions and helps you understand what sourdough actually is and why it’s far better for you and your body than commercial bread made with baker’s yeast. Highly recommended!