Garnishes can be used in two ways: as a key ingredient to complete a flavor or texture profile or as a splash of color to liven up a dish. So long as the garnish doesn’t interfere with the main flavor agenda, it’s considered an essential ingredient in plating and cocktails.
Garnishing a Plate
There are five key elements of plating and presentation, and those are: color, shape, texture, arrangement, and garnish. As with all food trends, the art of plating has changed throughout history, evolving into the diversified scope that it is today. Garnishing trends have progressed from overuse of parsley and even sparklers in food to current tendencies towards colorful puree swipes, dots, and drizzles.
But what about the inedible garnishes found on plates such as the fresh rosemary sprig on top of your steak, or the fake grass that usually accompanies your sushi rolls – should we really be wasting resources for visual appeal?
Garnishing a Cocktail
In the same way that garnishes might be an essential ingredient on your plate, they can also be elemental in completing your cocktail. For bartenders, the garnish in your drink is as fundamental to the flavor and fragrance as it is to the visual appeal. Or is it? Once finished with your drink, those pretty pops of color go straight into the trash. Granted, the flavorsome oils might be essential to the finished cocktail, but is it worth the waste? Are there other ways that we could be flavoring our cocktails – i.e., oil concentrates?
Is it Worth it?
In the world of plating, garnishes play an important role. However, if cutting back on food waste and costs are important to you, then some consideration should be given to their practicality. Chefs should take care that these garnishes don’t disturb the main flavor of the dish. If this is the case, then the use of garnishes should be evaluated. And if the garnish is essential to the overall dish, then perhaps operators should consider installing garnish gardens and composting systems to help alleviate the cost and waste associated with them.