8 Ways to Turn Dining into Art like Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller.  Among all the celebrity chefs, he is known as the ultimate perfectionist: The best ingredients.  Flawless technique.  Perfect finish.  This is probably why he has won numerous James Beard awards and is the only American chef with two top-rated Michelin 3-star restaurants: The French Laundry in Napa Valley, which revolutionized fine dining, and Per Se in New York, which took it to a new level.

The secret of his success, though, is not just great cooking. Keller also knows how to make his culinary creations look like art.  He’s such an expert on presenting food, he even designed his own Limoges porcelain dinnerware.

After some studying, we uncovered some of his secrets for showcasing food as art.  Whether you’re a star chef or rely on uberEats, we hope these techniques will take your meals to new levels of sophistication:

1. Make It a Hero

A museum shows each work of art separately, with plenty of space in between to give you time to pause and absorb what you’ve seen. Similarly, you should do this for your food: Break up a meal into its courses and each course into its components. Highlighting each component, with room in between, turns the humblest side dish into a hero:

Oval Plate with Flowers
Note how this Oval Plate with Flowers allows you to deconstruct a dish and highlight each component.


Buffet Plate with Flower Center
Even if it’s the same item, by breaking it up into smaller pieces and arranging them separately, you can highlight your food, like on this Buffet plate with a flower center.

2.  Frame Your Courses

Every course you serve should be properly framed, just like fine art.  And just like art, the plates that frame your food could either complement it or contrast it for greater focus.

Round charger with oval center
This round charger with an oval center creates a frame that complements the shape of the food being served.


Round Charger with Square Center
This round charger with a square center gives a  strong definition for a course of multiple items.

3.  Create a Focal Point

To create a sense of drama, use special dishes that draw the eye to the food being served.  

Rim Soup Bowl
The extra deep well of this Rim Soup Bowl creates a focal point that draws your eye in.


Dessert Plate with Concentric Ovals
Similarly, the concentric ovals of this dessert plate with concentric ovals draws your eye to the dessert.

4.  Follow the Food’s Natural Shapes

Some foods already have strong shapes — a square or oval slice of cake, a round souffle, or an oval quenelle dumpling.  In those cases, naturally follow the shape of the food you’re serving.

Dessert plate with concentric ovals
Again, notice how the shape of the dessert is reflected in the concentric ovals of the dessert plate.

5. Create Subtle Contrasts

Some foods, like risotto, do not naturally have any form or shape.  For dishes like that, Keller designed a complementary Checks pattern dinnerware with a subtle checked pattern.  This adds contrasts and interest to the course, without overwhelming it with strong colors or patterns.

Checks dinnerware
Checks dinnerware has a subtle pattern that gives contrast to light colored dishes.

6. Use Geometric Shapes to add Contrast

Another way to highlight a course is to use interesting and unexpected geometric shapes, like in these examples:

Round dinner plate with almond center
A round dinner plate with almond center uniquely highlights the dish.


Large Size Spoon
This oversized spoon makes a surprise out of these appetizers.

7. Create a Sense of Rhythm

Set items one after the other, in a regular space and with similar pieces or sizes, to create a sense of rhythm as the person experiences each part of the meal.

Small Sized Spoons
Small sized spoons can be used to create a sense of rhythm and make even sauces or dressings look like art.


Quenelle Dishes
These quenelle dishes create a sense of rhythm, going from small to medium to large.

8. Unify with a Color Scheme

Every museum or gallery exhibit has a deliberately chosen wall color to tie it all together.  When there are many different color or patterns, white is usually the unifying color. This is exactly what Thomas Keller has done so well.  His pure white Limoges porcelain dishes bring together an entire meal, from dark colored soups to brightly colored meats and vegetables to ivory and cream risottos and desserts.  They are all celebrated like works of art.

Thomas Keller Hommage Dinnerware

Bringing it all together…

Hommage Dinnerware by Thomas Keller

…just like a Master Chef!

Shop Thomas Keller Dinnerware


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