My husband grew up with Kerry Heffernan, Executive Chef at South Gate in Manhattan. Since the opening of the restaurant we’ve been promising ourselves to go but never got off our lazy butts to make it happen. (Meanwhile we live within walking distance of the restaurant!) Lucky for us, old friends were coming to town and they organized the night out.
It was fantastic! Kerry cooked up a 4 course meal himself, including desserts, and explained each lovely dish. As you can imagine, each course was beautifully plated (see below for the lovely pics taken by Rebecca Taylor). We’ve all been indoctrinated by the Food Network that the presentation of the dish is extremely important. It matters how the sauce is drizzled, where the garnish is placed, how the different color vegetables contrast with one another. Of course, scent, texture and taste are critical, and, in the end, it all gets mushed together in our mouths. But how the dish appears tells a story all its own. The plating raises anticipation, it explains the different ingredients and the order by which they should be eaten.
With food, image clearly makes a difference.
Growing up I loved fashion and beauty. But I considered them fun interests. Even when I started working in an image-based industry, I regarded my physical image as much less critical than my intellectual one. But then I had a breakthrough. I realized that my external image is VERY important. After all, our brains process far more information at a much faster rate through sight than any other sense. And like the meal I had yesterday, my image tells a story. It lets people know how brave I am, how fastidious, how flexible, or how modern. It lets them know how much I respect myself. While I know that it tells only part of a story, it still communicates not just what I think of myself and my environment but also what I could possibly do for others. Will I be detail-oriented? Will I take risks for them? Will I challenge them? Will I help raise their appeal to others? Will I understand their aesthetic sensibilities or desires?
Of course we can’t rely on our physical images alone to navigate our social or professional worlds, but we shouldn’t take them for granted either. Whether we like it or not, we tell a visual story.
I guess this means I better clean up my office now, huh?