Adding a dollop of whipped cream is about as fancy as it gets when I serve dessert, but I am still inspired by Gilt Taste's look inside the mind of pastry chef Michael Laiskonis, which details his thought process while creating the dessert pictured above. Though I'll likely never create anything as lovely (or time-consuming!) as Laiskonis's dish, I still picked up a few tips for making my plates more beautiful. The above dessert is Greek yogurt panna cotta, basil cake, basil seeds, candied celery, strawberries and strawberry film. If you look at a description like that and wonder How did the pastry chef come up with that?, then this article is a must-read. Laiskonis lays out the reasoning behind his choices, including the shape and placement of each component, with step-by-step photos.
For example, about the cubes of basil cake arrayed around the panna cotta, he says:
I'm also using the cake to kind of define the field of the plate, giving a lot of white space on the outside. In 8th grade, I was on the yearbook staff. The one lesson I took away from that was not to give too much white space in the center, because your eyes go directly to it.
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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