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First and foremost, I strive to create a delicious plate of food that shocks the palate with bold flavor. But I’m not gonna lie—I love to make things look beautiful, too. My own style is rooted in simplicity, and while aesthetics are paramount, so is accessibility.
While developing recipes for my book, Cook Beautiful (out today!), I wanted to unite my overlapping passions of food and design. With a background in interiors, visual presentation plays an integral role in everything I do—particularly how I style and plate food. I decided to pair each recipe with a tip that improves flavor and efficiency in the kitchen, as well as the meal's overall beauty.
I’ve developed an arsenal of easy tricks for making food both delicious and a feast for the eyes. After all, our eyes are the body's first sensorial indicator. I believe flavor and beauty, taste and visuals are always working in tandem with technique. Below, are some of my favorite examples.
The perfect sear
There are few things less attractive than a pale pork chop. Happily, it's not hard to achieve that deeply golden sear. The key is to get your pan good and hot—and keep it that way. To that end, bring your meat to room temperature before cooking—a cold chop will cool down your pan—and opt for cast iron, which retains heat most evenly.
Elevate the humble potato
Crispy spuds not only taste better, they look beautiful, too, with their deep golden hue and lacy, caramelized edges. The key to pretty potatoes: Get them good and dry. After boiling, drain them and then return them to the pot for 2 minutes over super-low heat to burn off any residual moisture.
A sweeter way to keep your apples from browning
Honey contains a compound that prevents oxidation, ensuring that apples remain bright white. In fact, a quick dunk in a mixture of honey and water keeps apples from browning for up to eight hours, far longer than the more commonly used lemon juice.
The tart secret to a pretty poach
The secret to pretty poached eggs? Adding a little vinegar to the water, which causes the proteins in the whites to coagulate more quickly, preventing unsightly wisps. Swirling the water with the tail of a wooden spoon to create a little whirlpool also helps by drawing the egg in the center, encouraging a nice round shape. And if you happen to break a yolk while plating, don't sweat it. A sunny little pool of bright yellow creates color contrast on the plate.
Fennel a cut above the rest
To produce gorgeously feathery slices of fennel, start by dividing the bulb in quarters and paring away most, but not all, of the core. Next, carefully shave each quarter lengthwise on your mandoline. Make sure to slice the fennel paper thin to combat the veg’s natural toughness.
Step up your soup game
Pureed soup can look—and taste—boringly basic without a garnish or two to liven it up. Restaurant chefs often use plastic squeeze bottles to layer on something bright or creamy, but at home there's no need to be so fussy. Just gently swirl in a minimal amount of pesto with a teaspoon, mixing only on the surface of the soup in a loose circular motion.
Don't crowd your cauliflower
Heads of cauliflower vary greatly in size. If you buy a large one and find your florets don't fit easily in a single later on one baking sheets, use two. A mound of veg will end up soggy and steamy rather than beautifully browned.
Share your favorite tips and tricks to creating beautiful AND tasty food below!