The Basics of Plating – Ways to Present Food Like a Chef

The Basics of Plating – Ways to Present Food Like a Chef

A little-known fact about my husband, he’s a trained Chef. In his previous life, he worked under a famous Chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. Needless to say, he’s the cook in our family.

One of the things I admire and have taking notes on is how meticulous he is about presentation. His motto, part of serving great food is presentation: like the antipasto pictured below, it should appeal to your mouth, nose and eyes. Don’t they deserve a feast, too?

You don’t have to be a trained chef to learn the basics of plating, which is the art of presenting food in an attractive way. Don’t worry, it’s not about making butter sculptures or radish animals, at least not for me. Here are a few simple ways I’ve learned from my husband on how to present your meals like a pro.

  1. Set the table. This is one of the boys’ daily tasks.  We’re a casual family so we try to keep things minimal.

  1. Choose your plates wisely. Make sure your serving plates are big enough to let each food item stand out, but small enough that the portions don’t look tiny.

  1. Read the clock!A foolproof way to arrange food on a plate is to place the carbohydrate (rice, pasta, bread, etc.) at “11 o’clock,” the vegetables at “2 o’clock,” and the protein at “6 o’clock” from the diner’s point of view.

  1. Be odd. Don’t be strange, but things generally look more interesting when they’re in sets of odd numbers, rather than even numbers. So, if you’re serving shrimp or stuffed mushrooms, put five on each plate, rather than six. Don’t worry about counting out peas though.
  2. Play with Height.This Chicken Stir Fry with Broccoli looks more interesting because of the high mound of rice sitting next to it.            


Remember, yours eyes, should enjoy the meal as much as your tongue.






Imagine the story you are about to write will be made into a movie (we can dream, right?) and this song will be on the soundtrack. What’s your song?

Mine is Nightcall  by London Grammar for the adaptation of Tattooed Hearts.

When I was writing Tattooed Hearts, “Nightcall” was on constant repeat. The opening line of the first verse I’m giving you a nightcall to tell you how I feel . . . created so much suspense.

The song captured the mood of Tattooed Hearts. The lyrics told my characters story.

Almost every morning with my coffee on my desk, I’d put on my headphone, listened carefully, and tapped into those emotions—joy, sadness, triumph, love, regret. The lyrics would swim through my cerebral cortex, like a wakeful dream as the words poured onto the blank pages.

Whatever the song made me feel at that time, I’d write the scene that conveyed that same emotion. Each verse captured so much tension,  they embodied Forrest’s and Claire’s anguish, the betrayal that tore them apart, the lies that destroyed their dreams, and the love between them that remained unforgettable. Immeasurable.

There’s also a scene when Forrest watched Claire—the love of his life—performed LIVE for the first time. Her voice carried a level of sadness, a longing, drugging everyone as she sang each word of “Hopeless by Dionne Farris.

She covered “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls,

Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds,

and “Ordinary Love” by Sade

I’m one of those authors who have a playlist for each of my novels. While I prefer to write in complete silence, once in a while I come across a specific song that moves me and my imagination. The lyrics fit the scene, touch my characters. And I just can’t help but channel that song into inspiration.

Check out Tattooed Hearts  playlist and perhaps one of the songs may take you back to a time in your past; mine that memory for inspiration and write about your own experience.


Dressing My Characters

Dressing My Characters

Hello Everyone!

As this is my first post on the Spice Aisle, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mika Jolie. I live in New Jersey with my Happy Chaos—my husband and our energizer bunnies (two sons and a fur baby). When I’m not weaving life and romance into evocative tales, you can find me on a hiking adventure, reading, or on Pinterest.

I’m convinced Pinterest is one of the hottest thing on the web, it’s also a useful tool for world building. One of my favorite boards created was for my romantic comedy The Boy Friend

As a writer, I love getting to know my characters. What do they look like? Would my female character wear matchstick jeans and ballet flats? Would she wrapped paisley blue silk scarf around her waist, up over her torso, then tie the ends behind her neck to fashion a halter-style blouse? Maybe she enters her favorite store, runs to the belt rack. A truffle belt catches her attention, the one with the tarnished—almost black—buckle over brass. She loops it into her blue jeans, blue and brown, like waves meetings pebbled shore.

Coriander, my female main character from The Boy Friend wears this black backless jumpsuit in one of the sexiest scenes in the novel.



See, fun, right?

I do the same thing for my male characters. You can find a few here:

Tattooed Hearts: Forrest Desvareaux Pinterest Board

Need You Now:   Adam Aquilani Pinterest Board


Have fun browsing and until next time!