We've already talked about the love/hate relationship chefs have with the current sauce dot trend, but a recent article in Restaurant Hospitality brought up another popular plating concept - simplicity.
According to Andrew Zimmerman, chefs are moving away from towering dishes and sauce swooshes in favor of simpler, more elegant plating styles.
"In the '90s, everyone wanted to make food that was unnecessarily tall," he said. "Then there was the spoon-dragged purée or sauce...That's something we've done plenty of times, but it's a plating cliché that we're trying to move away from."
The result is an easier style, without overcrowding, that allows the plate to serve as a canvas guiding diners to the critical groups of ingredients. It allows the important parts of the plate to come forward without any gimmicks or tricks.
"I like to think that whatever current plating trends are happening are in the service of a clean-looking, flavor-first mentality," Zimmerman said.
The canvas analogy, though done so many times in foodservice, is common because it's true. Cuisine is like art. We take advantage of "white spaces" and composition to place the focus on what's actually important.
Another advantage to simple plating is the function. If the days of toppling food towers are coming to an end, they're being replaced by simple arrangements that promote access without creating a mess. More space, less overcrowding, means greater accessibility.
For more affirmation on simplistic plating trends, a quick look at The Art of Plating's 2018 Trends reflects this movement, as well. They refer to the "power of precision" that chefs are using to make carefully curated arrangements appear random and effortless.
Other techniques mentioned to create simple and elegant plates are scaling, in which chefs layer ingredients on top of one another. This is similar to another technique mentioned called fanning, which is essentially scaling with a horizontal element.
From a color palette perspective, monochrome plates are the easiest way to highlight simplicity, and this is becoming more prevalent.
"If I go out to eat and see on a plate that three chefs have been standing in the kitchen, coloring it for hours, it just doesn't look that appealing to me," said Gunnar Gislason, chef of Agern in New York City.
One aspect of color which plays a direct role in the overall aesthetic is the plate itself. Gone are the days of simple, bone white dinnerware. In today's thinking, simple and elegant can mean so much more.
Chefs across the country are agreeing, as noted by so many in the Restaurant Hospitality article. The simpler and more approachable our dishes, the greater the impact they are having with today's diners.