For Ben Randolph, chef de cuisine at Eleven Eleven, presentation is second to flavor. Classic art concepts are used to balance out the ingredients on the plate and make it a work of art.

Paint your canvas

Randolph will puree something to “paint the plate with,” whether drizzling it or creating a “swoosh” with a spoon.

“We want to give the plate a small amount of volume,” Randolph says. “If you’ve got mashed potatoes and asparagus, we can prop the asparagus up on the mashed potatoes, put the steak on top of that, and we can let the sauce dribble down.”

Choose an arrangement

Randolph shapes the potatoes, slices the filet, cuts the asparagus into ribbons and uses the sauce in a more decorative way. He pulls “basic art class concepts,” such as contrasting colors, elements in odd rather than even numbers and balance on the plate.

Put the ‘cherry’ on top

The finishing touch is a garnish. He only chooses garnishes with flavors that complement the rest of the dish. You can’t sacrifice the flavor of the overall dish for the sake of looks, he says.

Contributing writer | Reach me at or on Twitter @Jaredography

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