How important is presentation, really?

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“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. Imagine how your room looks when it’s messy and how it looks when you clean it up, the same ingredients, different results. It is just as true with food presentation and how the elements are arranged on the plate.”

-Chef Sean Bone (chefseanbone.com)

Every once in a while I remember times where I was rather preoccupied with the presentation of a dessert. When frosting cupcakes, if one didn’t come out too good I would scrape off the icing and do it again. Now obviously it wasn’t an obsessive issue, but I had a strong belief that, simply put- presentation is everything.

However, as I go through my “baking journey” I realize that, although presentation may be important, it certainly is not everything. And this comes down to everything. For example, a project. Any poster can have fantastic designs and eye catching colors, but if the content is lacking then that is more important.

The whole point of making something eye catching is to draw attention to it, and once that attention is drawn it must be maintained. What is the point of perfecting presentation when the content is no good to begin with?

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With that said I think that presentation is only very important if whatever you are presenting, in this case baked goods, is worthwhile (or tastes good). If you’ve seen the way pastry chefs present their dishes, it is usually in a more unusual and different manner, and thus an eye catching way. And of course, presentation can just be a fun thing to do- have the fun in making a cake is decorating it. And it is always a good idea to have the presentation fit the occasion.

For example, I tried to make the above cake in a not-so-kiddish way, so I left the sprinkles and confetti at home (literally). I opted for a more “abstract” design, which I like to call random squiggles and hand movements. Also, the flavor of the cake was more “up to scale”-ish. I made a tiramisu inspired cake. So I made a vanilla sponge cake, soaked it in the classic coffee-chocolate syrup, and as a filling I made an espresso ganache (too good). For the frosting I made a whipped mascarpone frosting and I made the random squiggles with the ganache. Oh yeah, and then I sprinkled toasted pecans because I thought it was missing something, and because I like how the flavors go together.

So try to make your food look good, but don’t get too choked up about it. In the end, the taste is all the counts; but for people to appreciate the taste the presentation should be, let’s say inviting.

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3 thoughts on “How important is presentation, really?

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