Spotting diners carefully snapping photos of every dish brought to their table may make your blood boil, but like it or loathe it, a well-taken photograph of food can be a powerful marketing tool. Equally, a blurry picture of a poorly presented dish could turn off potential customers checking online reviews.
For those who struggle with presentation, food stylist Frankie Unsworth provides inspiration in her book The New Art of Cooking. Unsworth introduces her pedigree by describing a photo shoot in which she used tweezers to carefully tease lettuce leaves so they fell attractively from the sides of a chicken salad sandwich before using a small paintbrush to ensure an even and artistic spread of mayonnaise.
She explains that the art of presentation is not just about appealing to an Instagram-toting millennial crowd but enhancing the experience of every diner by creating a multi-sensory event.
Within the book’s pages, Unsworth looks at setting a room, arranging a table and designing a plate, explaining the rule of three, how to work with the natural shape of an ingredient and the importance of leaving negative space on a dish.
While the recipes themselves are aimed more towards a home-cooking audience – there is a section on how to boil an egg – the lessons in the art of presentation are applicable to all.
She prompts the reader to experiment with approaches – whether to tumble asparagus onto a plate or display it in a uniform row – and to model the dish for the occasion or audience.
It may be disappointing for some that Unsworth does not dedicate more space to walking the reader through the plating of her recipes, but there are tips and tricks sprinkled throughout. The more detailed advice is given within the introductions to the chapters or sections, ranging from setting out a beautiful vegetable or charcuterie platter to tips on plating small dishes to highlight a star ingredient.
While the recipes in this book may not be complicated, the beautiful imagery should provide plenty of inspiration to produce dishes that will get diners snapping.
The New Art of Cooking by Frankie Unsworth (Bloomsbury, £30)