The Psychology of Plating


Eating involves all of our senses--and aesthetic may play a bigger part than you realize.

When it comes to food, taste is our top priority. However, eating is an experience that combines all five of our senses—and presentation can go a long way! Oxford professor of Experimental Psychology Charles Spence has dedicated his work to examining the links between taste and presentation. While it may be fun to explore the latest food plating trends, it’s helpful to look to science for food plating ideas first! Here are some food plating tools to help bring your meal to the next level.

The Most Important Plating Tool

People tend to enjoy food more if the plating is artistic, as it signifies that the chef put a lot of effort into it and makes us excited to eat. However, the plate itself also has an effect on our perception! Think like an artist: the food is your medium, and the plate is your canvas! First: make sure the plate is clean by hand washing with Power Dish Spray or using Dishwasher Detergent Pods. Spence’s studies have shown that round, white plates tend to enhance sweet foods, while black angular plates highlight savory flavors. Brightly colored plates can be a fun, bold choice, but consider the meal. A green plate may subconsciously remind the diner of broccoli, which is likely not the best choice for dessert! When in doubt, stay away from blue, as the lack of naturally blue foods makes it an unappetizing color. 

Look at the Lighting

Have you ever noticed that some restaurants are especially bright, while others have more subdued lighting? Bright lights are generally preferred for strong flavors, while subdued lighting is best for more subtle tastes. Much like plates, colored lighting can also go a long way. Spence found that red lighting added fruitiness to wine, while blue lighting caused people to eat less. While science cannot fully explain this phenomenon, we expect it is due to our existing expectations. We expect food and drink to look a certain way, and our mind fills in the gaps. Adding color to something doesn’t change the taste, but when something looks off, we find it less appealing. 

Mood Music, Anyone?

Think before you pop on your favorite playlist! Music can do wonders for the atmosphere, bringing a meal to the next level—or ruining it. Studies have shown that people associate sweet food with higher-pitched sounds and chimes, and savory foods with lower-pitched sounds and brass instruments. Think of your favorite restaurant: what do they typically play? Classical music? Pop? Try experimenting with your dining soundtrack to see what works best for you and your cooking!

We promise: follow these tips and you’ll be the host with the most.