Food trends and preferences evolve year after year, and one of the biggest trends we're seeing today is a preference for foods that are shareable. From Middle Eastern dishes and share plates from other global cuisines to a focus on appetizers and other menu items designed for the whole table, dining is taking on a more communal element.
When it comes to serving these types of dishes, larger serving platters and trays are an obvious ally in commercial kitchens. Trays not only make foods accessible for everyone at the table, they also provide an opportunity to add a unique aesthetic that enhances the overall design of the operation.
As much as everyone loves an interesting tray during the appetizer phase of the meal, there are other emerging uses for trays in restaurants and foodservice operations. As a result, trays have emerged as a more versatile version of the plate, and here's why:
Trays allow chefs in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest to become more creative in how they plate, not just appetizers and share plates, but all types of dishes.
"For decades, trays were reliable performers for appetizers, family-style service, and old-school restaurants where each side dish was a la carte," said Homer Laughlin representative Katie Bricker in a recent article in Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine. "They still serve those purposes exceedingly well, but a new breed of chef has seized on other capabilities of these tabletop stalwarts, making them hip in the process."
The reason trays are so much more versatile is obvious but not so obvious at the same time. Essentially, trays can fit on certain tabletop situations where round plates can't. They can help operators utilize smaller spaces like bars, countertops, and other narrow surfaces with serving options that don't overhang the edge of the counter. Creative chefs are using trays to present not just shareables, but also sandwiches, entrées, salads, and even coffee service using space-saving trays.
Consider the following, side-by-side comparison:
There's no doubt we first eat with our eyes. The way things look are important, and they can be more profitable. When you look at the two examples above, the dish presented on the round plate looks ho-hum. It exists all on the same horizontal and vertical planes, essentially taking all ingredients and putting them together.
When you compare what the round dish looks like with the same dish served on a Trays Bien from Homer Laughlin, the results are obvious. The same dish served on the tray allows chefs to highlight the different ingredients used. The dish includes some verticality. And finally, the colors are allowed to fully come through.
When the cameras come out and the images are posted to Instagram, which dish would you prefer associated with your restaurant?
The bottom line is the ways we present our foods matter, and presentation is often limited by the space we have and the types of cuisines and menu items we're presenting. Trays Bien from Homer Laughlin can be a versatile addition to your serving capabilities, but the only way to really know is to try out some of these unique items for yourself.