Why do chefs serve food on objects rather than plates?

The Staff Canteen

People are having mixed opinions about ways in which food is being served, some are loving the creative flare, while others are chanting ‘we want plates’.

Sean Martin, head chef at Beachside Seafood Restaurant & Market, Mumbles in South Wales, is one chef who likes to present his dishes in controversial ways. His broken plate dish received both positive and negative comments when it was posted on The Staff Canteen Instagram account. The picture caused quite a stir in the restaurant community which has subsequently made Sean and his unique plating methods a talking point among his peers.

Sean Martin
Sean Martin

Sean Martin on his plating methods

Sean’s reasoning behind the presentation was to illustrate that plated food doesn’t need to be the norm to be inviting. Viewing it as a form of art, he likes to think outside the box when it comes to presenting his dishes and takes the negative comments on the chin.

“I take the good with the ugly, some people just like to be negative, which I take as a positive as it becomes a talking point, and creates debates over my food,” said Sean.

Paul Foster, chef owner of Salt Restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon was just one of many to comment on the now infamous picture simply putting “such a shame”.

We spoke to Paul to find out what his general thoughts were on plating food.

“What can I say, style over substance is what winds me up, or when chefs think about presentation before flavour/eating quality.”

He continued: “Ultimately I never have issue with quality food served on anything the chef wants to, as long as the food is well produced then you can't knock it. What is infuriating is when I am served food that is technically bad yet served on a ludicrous prop, it's just the chefs trying to hide their deep rooted insecurity by distracting the diner from their food with a terrible gimmick.”

What The Staff Canteen followers had to say about food not served on plates

When we took to social media a lot of our Facebook followers echoed the same response as Paul.

But with restaurants recycling the same dishes using the same ingredients and same presentation Sean wants to set himself apart from the pack by creating dishes that draw the consumer in.

Sean said: “What I like to do is something that is jarring to the eye and makes you stop for a second to look closer at the dish.”

Although the picture received backlash for not presenting food in the norm it also garnered a positive reception from others who applauded Sean for using recycled dish ware.

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Sean's reaction to the comments on social media

Responding to some of the comments on Instagram Sean confessed he feels a lot of artists are too afraid to express their opinions on account of what others might think.

He said: “I think we should work on being our unique selves and being our greatest versions. I like to remind people to take the power to live their life the way they wish.”

After the plate debacle, Sean has no intention of succumbing to the negative feedback and already has a few ideas up his sleeves for what he might want to do next.

“I want to mirror glaze a mirror, or do a dish up and then just set fire to it, off the wall stuff but based on solid techniques.”

By Mel Ayres and Michael Parker

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 31st July 2017

Why do chefs serve food on objects rather than plates?