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3.0 out of 5 stars24
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on 25 November 2007
The negative reviews and low rating of this book left me so flabbergasted that I had to put in my 2c. I love this book and have bought two additional copies for friends as gifts.

OK, it's probably not a book for professional chefs or people who have been plating food at home since they were two bricks and tickey high. But if you've recently discovered plating, and need ideas on how to get started yourself, or progress your beginning experiments, this book is actually a quite wonderful foundation!

It takes you through eight different approaches to the plate. There are photographs of the finished plate, and some accompanying how-to help, also with photographs. Don't expect recipes! It's not a recipe book. The only recipes you get are there to help you through the plating experience.

One reviewer accuses the book of being dated. Well, perhaps it's very dated to make a chocolate bowl to serve your dessert in, but wow, does it make a hit when you serve that chocolate bowl to guests. You will never get an up-to-date book on anything, it takes a couple of years to get a book into print. Having a foundation on plating helps you make sense of what's been done on your plate in a restaurant.

Most home cooks don't believe they can make their food look as pretty as it does in a restaurant. This book will show that it's possible. There are very, very few books on how to approach it; I've only found two others - Dishing with Style, which is actually a recipe book that gives you two ways to serve each dish, and Stacks, which shows you how to master just one form of presentation.

My view on this book is 100% positive and I wish there were more like it.
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To some this might be a form of "food porn" - looking at beautiful food laid out in beautiful surroundings which is a sort of tasteful art. To others this will be a lot more practical and a guide to helping them improve the visual presentation of their food dishes and to go on to the next level of culinary expertise.
It is true that we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths and people do pay a premium to eat tasty, beautiful food in fine surroundings. You can make the nicest, most tastiest food of all but it can be let down by being chucked on a plate. Plating it, as it is called, is a skill just as important in a professional kitchen as getting the best ingredients prepared and cooked.
Here with "Working the Plate" the author takes a look at seven different "plating styles" from acclaim American chefs, with a range of full-colour images give a step-by-step guide to recreating a given styled dish from scratch. The styles are entitled The Minimalist, The Architect, The Artist, Contemporary European Style, Asian Influences, The Naturalist, Dramatic Flair and Deserts, Classics and Contemporary. The detail given here is amazing and you can feel as you are getting a personal one-on-one with a chef. In fact I think this works better than a DVD as you can focus just on one stage at a time, fine tuning your own skills and maybe even developing parallel skills and styles at the same time.
This book might, however, give the wrong impression to the casual reader that it will teach about the job of working the plate and working in a busy kitchen. That is not the case. Here you get "only" top quality information about making high-quality presentations of food. Of course no presentation style is timeless and there is never no "set way" but, of course, yet once you have learned the basics and have got a good understanding of how to plate up, your own experiences will boost your confidence and let you start to try new things and expand your own styles.
This is probably not a book for the average home cook and it is certainly not a recipe book. But culinary students, real foodies and those who want to take their own cooking to the next step as part of a total "experience" will find this a book worthy of consideration. It is not a universal panacea or an instant "how to" guide, but nonetheless it is a solid reference work to an often-ignored or glossed over subject.
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on 14 January 2011
This book makes you think not only about what you are cooking but how you will present it. It explains to you the techniques used in each of the dishes and at the back there are also a number of recipes. I used the parmesan basket shown on the cover at a dinner party and it made the dish look much more interesting. The book focuses on the main styles and does not show that many examples but i would recommend it to those who are struggling with their creativity and are looking for some tips on how to start.
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on 9 January 2012
Both my daughter and I are adventurous and competent cooks, but both find our presentation leaves much to be desired.....not any more....this book is amazing....simple instructions on how to turn your food into a restaurant class meal, with only a few simple 'tricks'. Worth its weight in gold. A reasonable priced book....delivered very speedily, which has quickly become our reference book of choice when presenting food for family and guests.
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on 27 December 2015
there's a lot of reviews about this book being a bit dated and i won't disagree but its not so out of date that its bad
there are enough ideas of how to create effects and ideas about how to plate your dinner party and everyday food
its not going to be the lightbulb moment but it may make you think more about how you plate food and the interviews with the chefs are great for grounding your ideas
otherwise it will make you look at the pictures in other cookbooks and give you some idea as to why they have plated food in certain ways
but yes its a little to basic as a book on its own and yes its a little dated
really in short if your a chef or seasoned foodie then give it a miss
but if your new to cooking or need a little inspiration about how to plate food differently then it maybe worth a go
hope this is helpful
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on 5 August 2010
I was looking for a book that will inspire me at the same time that will teach the main principles of plating a dish in the most beautiful way possible... i'm afraid it quite dissapointed me in every aspect, although the pictures are lovely and colourful i didn't learn a thing, there's few chefs showing off their dishes, voila! nothing else! very dissapointed! Sorry!
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on 15 February 2007
Whilst some of the presentation ideas are good (not that there are many!) there is little detail on methods used (two or three pictures at most on each)and even fewer recipes...

One of those books that could have been good, but simply fell at the first hurdle - i.e. to engage and inspire!

You could probably gain more from browsing a sunday newspaper supplement.
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on 20 March 2010
very poor, do not give information about "working the plate" only some photos and simple discriptions of dishes
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on 25 September 2009
I regard myself as a reasonably good cook and I thought this would take my dinner parties to the next level but no! I found it boring as all it did really was display many different chefs food. If you want to look at pretty pictures fine, if you want to LEARN forget it. It sits on my shelf never been used. A waste of money.
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on 26 February 2011
I bought this book with the expectation that I would be getting a lot more detail about creating a beautiful plate. But, instead I have a book that is very incomplete and the photos? Well, I really wish the author had completed the series showing all the steps and not just a few. I was really very very disapointed in this book.
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