Eat food off a dustpan or a miniature charpai

MUMBAI:Picture this, you have placed an order for butter chicken and are waiting for it to arrive served in a plate with some naan on the side, instead a small red telephone booth is placed before you, and opened to reveal two compartments one for the naan and the other for the butter chicken gravy. If you think this is a one-off, in terms of presentation, think again! Of late, restaurants are going all out coming up with innovative ways to present a dish, from edible bottle milkshakes to drinks served in lantern-shaped glasses. Old fashioned crockery is out, and food being served on arbitrary objects is in. Fad or a change that’s here to stay? Here’s what chefs have to say.

‘Focus has changed from fine dining to fun dining’
According to Karan Dharod, partner and owner of Light House Cafe, there has been a paradigm shift in the way people drink and eat. He says, “The market has moved from fine dining to fun dining and from binge and straight drinking to cocktails and experiences. This emphasis from quality and innovation to an experience has happened in the last three years. The value that an experience adds is what creates a memory. Quirky presentations and consumption apparatus adds the fun element to the whole experience. With customers having little patience and growing demand for innovation this is a global phenomenon that’s here to stay.”

‘Food presentation is about pleasing all the senses’
Chef Rajesh Dubey, corporate chef of speciality restaurants Private Limited, says, the rise and growing clout of social media has also impacted the presentation of food. He adds, “We have seen food presentation evolve over time for the main purpose of product differentiation. Traditional recipes have been tweaked over time and it has reached a state of standardisation. This results in similar taste of food across cuisines. Food presentation has been developed to appeal to the visual senses of the human body, which means it has an impact on one’s memory and feelings. Innovative presentation can also create auto marketing as customers click photos of their dish and use it for social media uploads.”

‘The look of the dish adds the x-factor making it memorable’
Ishaan Bahl, co-owner of Sobo joing 145 says, “When you dine at a cafe or a restaurant it’s not just about the taste of food but also the unique way it’s presented. The look of the dish is what invariably adds the x-factor in making it so memorable.” However, there is a thin line that cannot be crossed, if ignored it just ends up being a gimmick adding nothing to the dish or the overall experience.

‘Quirky presentations help express creativity’
Opting for out of the box serving apparatus definitely gets you the eyeballs. After all people eat the food with their eyes first, even before they have a bite. Chef Kshama, executive chef, Corum Hospitality, adds, “Customers are immersed in sharing what they consume. Hence, food presentation is as important as its taste. Quirky presentation gives you a chance to showcase our creativity. It’s here to stay for a while.”

It’s all about creating that wow experience
Chef Saurabh Udinia, Chef de Cuisine – Modern Indian, Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd concludes with emphasising on striking the right balance by paying attention to getting flavours right, and adding to it by plating it beautifully. He believes that things can’t work in isolation. He concludes, “The appeal of presentation lies in striking a balance between flavours, textures and presentation. There has to be a balance and seamless collaboration among all elements with food being the main focus, it can’t be the other way around.”