All-Star Plating Tips from Anita Lo

Food & Wine: Treasured: Chef Anita Lo
Treasured: Chef Anita Lo © Melanie Dunea/ CPi/ My Last Supper
By Melanie Dunea Posted February 07, 2014

In this series, photographer Melanie Dunea of My Last Supper takes a peek into the minds of working chefs and gets them to reveal their most prized possessions.

Chef Anita Lo's enduring New York restaurant Annisa earned a glowing three-star review from the New York Times this week. "What is remarkable about her food... is not exactly the absence of borders but the ease with which she crosses them," wrote critic Pete Wells, upgrading her previous two-star rating. The scholarly, soft-spoken chef is that last person you'd expect to own something called a "diva spoon" but she uses one for plating at the restaurant and it's her favorite possession. "I somehow immediately felt attracted to the 'diva' spoon. Who would inscribe the word diva on a spoon? It's just so weird! I always want girlie things. I identify as butch but I do like pink towels and the 'diva' spoon," she explains in the latest edition of Treasured. Click through the slideshow and get her best tips for plating below. Treasured: Anita Lo's Diva Spoon

1. Balance is everything.
Your plate must be visually appealing, but even more so it needs to be natural and easy for the customer to eat the way that you want it to be eaten. Balance is everything and how much to sauce the main ingredient, that proportion is really key to pleasure. If you want something to be eaten with the sauce and the sauce is too far away and up in the corner, then that’s a problem.

2. Don’t put color on the plate for the sake of it.
Every ingredient on the plate needs to have a strong role. It can be a supporting role or it can be the main role, but it has to have more purpose than just adding color to the plate. Flavor is everything.

3. Everything has to make sense.
Smearing sauce all over a plate has its purpose, too, if you have a really strong sauce and you just want to paint it on gently.

More Treasured: Andrew Carmellini's Pasta Tools
Christina Tosi's Scarves
Wylie Dufresne's Lost Knives

Read about Melanie Dunea.

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