By Flavor & The Menu
September 23, 2019
The Instagrammable aesthetic has become the No. 1 concern for restaurant chefs and operators, according to Datassential. With more than 250 million posts, #Food is among the top 25 most popular hashtags on the social media platform. Evidence of how this is shifting menu development is everywhere, from more tableside presentations and interactive elements to over-the-top desserts and eye-popping cocktails.
“We used to eat with our eyes,” says Yury Krasilovsky, executive chef with Barilla America. “Now, the phone eats first. Instagram’s influence has forced operators of all types to pay more attention to presentation.”
Krasilovsky keeps a keen eye on Instagram, helping him stylize pasta dishes in a striking manner. “The most popular posts tend to be colorful, and either highly composed and stylized or else all-in comfort food,” he says. “It’s not an accident that mac and cheese photos are some of the most popular around. At the end of the day, it’s about appetite appeal—food photos should make the viewer want to dive in for a forkful.”
As a pasta expert, he offers five ways to make pasta dishes picture perfect:
1. For long pasta shapes, scoop the pasta with a medium-sized ladle and twirl in the ladle with a fork, creating a nest. Lay the twirled pasta down carefully onto the plate, giving it a half rotation to the right before removing the fork. Add cracked pepper, olive oil, or microgreens for depth.
2. Lay a colorful sauce or a purée of vegetables on a flat plate, then add the pasta nest overtop. As an interactive element, your guests can mix the two together themselves.
3. For short pasta shapes, use a ring mold to keep the pasta in an elegant shape, but avoid compressing it.
4. A mist of oil or seasoned water can make the pasta look fresher and more appetizing. Reserve some of the emulsion of starch/oil/ cooking water to decorate the plate and the pasta itself.
5. Add smoke to big-flavored pasta dishes under a glass dome, then remove the dome tableside.
Krasilovsky points to the Pargo Rojo dish at Logan Oyster Socials as an example. “It’s a perfect 10 on both the flavor and Instagram scale,” he says. The pasta dish sees a light, fresh citrus and olive oil dressing, a nest of al dente Barilla Collezione Spaghetti, and crisply-seared red snapper—the “pargo rojo” in Puerto Rican parlance. A finishing splash of pique, a spicy fermented pineapple vinegar, along with baby tostones, complete the dish.
For more pasta inspiration, visit BarillaFS.com.