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Step up to the plate


Make an ordinary meal into a magical presentation

Chefs, cookbook stylists, and food show hosts have shown us how important presentation can be when serving a meal. They have us all daubing tiny bits of wasabi around a dish of grilled salmon, squirting chocolate sauce in squiggles on dessert plates and sprinkling powdered sugar on just about anything!

Creative plating is a nice touch and it doesn’t really take much more effort than placing the same old, same old on the table every day.

Start the ball rolling by pulling out grandmère’s pretty crystal. Float a flower or put cold soup in those finger bowls (you’ll get points for cleverness, and who really uses finger bowls anymore anyway?). Toss some bright berries or sorbet into claret glasses and set them on linen cocktail napkins. It’s the sort of thing that can make something simple–like vanilla pudding with a stick of chocolate plopped in it–spectacular.

Pull out the silver, the linens and the placemats (why are the nice things relegated to grand occasions?). Grab a napkin ring and get creative with what you’ve got.

Buy some flowers or fruit, or both. Summer is coming, so keep it light and easy, but make it a feast for the eyes. It’s amazing how something as ordinary as a slab of cheese can look incredible when plated.

It’s not hard to pull off pretty presentations … just come up with a theme or idea, as our six contributors did, and go from there.

A ladylike spread is perfect for Mother’s Day or brunch from Lucullus, purveyors of some of the most interesting culinary accoutrements in the country, almost all of which are antique or vintage. A cocktails gathering by Dunn & Sonnier–held at the shop no less–has them putting out a bit of this and that for drinks with pals after doing some fantastic floral thing for clients. And Virginia Saussy Bainsfather and artist husband Christopher, known for Sunday pool parties, often extend the day with a seafood supper–using easy-care cotton, not paper, napkins. Virginia gets imaginative and turns a wine holder into a serving piece for French bread, and presents the seafood in her grandfather’s oversize colander.

Each of these inspiring tabletops takes a simple occasion and gives it a twist, taking them from ordinary to extraordinary in no time.