Go to enough modern restaurants, and you will inevitably find chefs agonizing over the smallest details of their plates, tweezing just the right amount of garnish on top a dish. But how important is that level of detail?
Well, a new study suggests precise plating is very important in ways chefs might not have even considered.
More than 12,000 people took part in an Internet-based food orientation test at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University. The study used a dish from Michelin-starred chef Alberto Landgraf featuring three V-shaped pickled onions all pointing in one direction. Participants completed different tasks such as ranking four plates that had been randomly rotated and turning the photos so the food looked the most appealing.
After compiling data from 1,667 participants, researchers found that people showed a preference when the onions pointed up at the oddly specific 3.20 degrees clockwise. Furthermore, the study determined that “optimally orienting the plate translates into an increased willingness to pay for the food.”
That’s right, this study suggests that the orientation of even single elements on a plate is important. So, coming soon to a Michelin-starred restaurant near you: “Wait, don’t serve that dish yet. I’m still arranging the individual grains of rice.”
If you want to try the experiment yourself, it’s currently being presented at the Science Museum in London. Though now that you’ve read this article, you might be a little bit biased.