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Open Office Hours

Barton Seaver - Open Office Hours

This event was on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern

Join Chef Barton Seaver in his virtual office as he welcomes all of your questions. This event was created for you and we encourage you to ask anything – from cooking techniques to c… Read More.



What are some basic principles on garnishing a dish?

— Kathleen Ciolek


Flavor-wise does it make sense. Okay, does it make sense? Do the flavors match? Okay is the garnish going to? confuse or be somewhat disassociated with the rest of the dish, you know. Meaning like okay you have New England clam chowder and you're garnishing it with lime zest. Does it look good? Yes, is it aromatic? Yes, is it flavor-wise a good idea. Now, this is not right. I mean it's dissociated garnish. So make sure first and foremost that the garnish actually adds something to the flavor profile. right, even if it's just on par or parallel to To me that's not good enough. It has to have earned its place on that plate. To me. I'd rather a boring looking plate. You know Sons garnish then a plate where the garnish is a distraction. Another thing on garnishes is I am of the mindset that never ever use non-functional garnishes meaning garnish that you can't eat. Or easily incorporate into a dish. Okay. So I've got this beautiful braised lamb shank. Oh man. It's so delicious and I'm serving it over saffron couscous and it's just sitting proud and upright in this got all the vegetables around it and the brazing liquid sitting at the bottom. It's just this gorgeous thing and then I put up a tree of Rosemary. Rhonda what the hell am I supposed to do with this raspberry? It doesn't integrate into the dish. It's flavors aren't really compatible. So the first thing I as an eater do what do I do? I have to take my spring of tree of Rosemary off of my dish using my hands and find a place to put it. What a terrible way to start a meal right? I just you're sort of asking the guests, you know, if in a professional restaurant, I'm sure asking the guests to do something. They just shouldn't have to do. Does it look pretty? Yeah, it looks great. It's kind of cool. It's sticking up in the air but it adds nothing except labor and confusion and now you like what am I supposed to do put it on the table cloth and get your table cloth spotted and like this just not good. So functional garnishes only meaning something that integrates into the dish and can be used throughout the meal as well. The other thing is garnish should not be should be not overwhelming like you don't want so much parsley that you end up being like Oh everybody there's some a lot of parsley in this A few tiny flecks of parsley in each bite off of that lamb shank with the saffron couscous dipped into the braising Jew. Wow. Okay, just a little bit of freshness to bring it to the four cool. Right and you want to scatter it excuse me scatter it over or evenly distribute a garnish so that it evenly distributes throughout the eating experience, right? If you just get one bite of your meal with a garnish you're like, okay. I want more of that if it's a successful guard shot. I want more of it. But there is no more. so those are those are two really important principles three really important principles. The other is if you were going to garnish with something. Put the effort into it don't just hack at your parsley. If you're gonna put parsley on a dish right and just scattered. Don't just wash your leaves of parsley get really good parsley first and foremost by it fresh to the farmer's market. Now go to a store that has a lot of turnover get really fresh parsley taste the leaf in the store. Is it really Woody? You know as partially leaves can get when they're overgrown and deep dark green. Okay. Well guess what find something else to use. There you go. But you had a nice young beautiful fresh aromatic. Abelian parsley wash the leaves to make sure you're not putting sand on your dish dry them off very carefully gently to make sure they're fully dry roll those leaves up so that you have some real intent when you're cutting using nice big knife slice all the way through them as finally as you can go and then when you go to chop against the grain of the parsley, you know, it's easier to move than all of these little bits of parsley yourself. Stand up and now cut across the grain of the parsley right holding it all. So it's this nice compact little pile. So you're cutting each strike stroke of the knife. You're getting this really nice sliced cut to it. You're getting more and more evenly sized pieces and then Use it within a reasonable amount of time. I understand in restaurants you got to do a pint container of it. You're gonna be using it all night again get that. But don't use it all week. Use it all night and then be done with it, right? So when you then go to sprinkle that parsley over your dish each piece looks relatively the same. Meaning you're not adding a visual distraction to your dish by like, oh, well, here's the big chunk of parsley and here's a whole bunch of tiny stuff and well, it wasn't dried well enough. So here's a chunk of bits of parsley. It's kind of this like parsley ball over here. No one wants anything. So just put intent into your garnish and make sure that it looks good because that's one of its ultimate purposes cool. All right. Thank you Kathleen great question. And by the way, I had nightmares when I was first coming into kitchens that you know, this old friendship would be like the party that I would cut it. And then he'd come over and be like very good. Now put it back together. And I would spend literally all like all night in the stress dream of having to put the person that he was back together. You who have a psych degree might over throw in the comments over there, which you're what you're how you would. How you would address that but anyway, thanks to the great question come Kathleen.
Barton Seaver

Barton Seaver

Chef, Educator, Author