Food For thought… a garnish provides a positive, visual element that gives food a special finishing touch. It adds harmony to the organization of food on a serving dish. A well-designed garnish can provide a focal point to direct the diner’s gaze.

Most food presentations need to be garnished but not on all occasions. Adding another element may confuse the presentation rather than complement it. Accompanying vegetables, sauce, etc. can provide the interest, balance and color that are needed when many foods are presented.

The garnish selected must:

  • Suit the occasion as well as the dish
  • Take into account the style of the main ingredient
  • Have a function on the plate e.g. garnish to give height or specifically used for color.
  • Always harmonize with the finished product
  • Never overshadow the food, keep the garnish simple.
  • Take advantage of the natural features of the ingredients e.g. the unusual shape of a vegetable can add interest rather than adding a garnish: the specific color of a fruit or the texture of cereal can also add interest rather than adding a garnish.

Properly cooked food looks great!

  • Appropriate menu combinations
  • Interesting cuts and shapes
  • Rolling meats (deli, fish, stuffed chicken)
  • Fried Onion straws, sweet potato hay, fried parsley – where appropriate, of course!

Plate arrangement as a garnish

  • Nice and neat makes an impression
  • Sandwich Plates
  • Hot entrée Plates
  • Salad Plates

List of Acceptable Garnishes

  • Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle on the side
  • Apple Rings (fresh or spiced) Mechanical ok
  • Pineapple Rings
  • Orange Slice or Twist
  • Melon Slice - Mechanical ok
  • Pickled Beet Slice – Mechanical ok
  • Lemon Slice or Twist
  • Egg Slice w/Paprika – Mechanical ok
  • Cucumber Slice, scored, halved
  • Baby Corn – Mechanical ok


  • Garnishing and Creative Plating definitely makes a difference
  • Train your staff – overcome that stigma of “Its extra work”
  • Garnishes should be edible, relate to the food being served, and cost effective
  • Make Presentation and Garnish as important a priority as the food itself – if you don’t, the cook won’t!
  • Have a rotation and picture board in place – add it to your production sheets or cycle menu binders