Chef Sam Nahhas Shares Six Secrets of Creating the Perfect Plate
Here at Normandy Farm, we pride ourselves in presenting you with delicious cuisine that always includes a dish (or five) that looks too good to eat. You know—a plate that's stacked with color and texture and designed in such a way that it's just begging you to whip out your phone to snap a pic to wow your followers on Instagram before devouring.
As far as the delving into and eating part, we know you have that covered. But we wanted to let you know that it's okay to play with your food in your home kitchen and share some artful plating secrets from one of our dedicated experts in the kitchen.
We asked our resident and award-winning pastry chef Sam Nahhas to give us a behind-the-scenes feel for what it takes to assimilate the idea, incorporate the right ingredients and flavors and present the final execution of a dessert that will eventually make it on the tongue.
“I think seasonal first,” says chef Sam, noting that a dish should always attempt a fresh, farm-to-table feel. “Currently being in the throes of summer, all the beautiful berries and melons that can be utilized in the construction process give us plenty of options. Then I look for three major textures—chewy (or crunchy), liquid (fluid gel) and moist—while also thinking of their color.”
Color on a plate is what gives it pop and makes the dish “smile,” explains chef Sam. He feels that finding the right colors that coordinate with flavor is one of the biggest challenges and suggests using a seasonal palette while envisioning how one applies makeup or layers of clothing. “In styling your plate, like anything else, you want to make it fit and be beautiful.” Warmer weather warrants warmer colors that are bright and playful. As the season chills, go for deeper, richer earthtone hues.
Watching the expressions of guests when they get that first glimpse of the plate is what it's all about. “Wow factor to me means ‘different,’” explains chef Sam. “I want to exceed our guests’ expectations. When someone gets a key lime pie, they expect the traditional key lime pie with whipped cream. I bring a plate filled with color, texture and bold flavors.”
Chef Sam gets totally involved with his creations. “They are how I feel in the moment. Many times I build my plate 4–6 times and then start over. I work until I create something I am proud of first. I need to be personally wowed before I can get the guest to say ‘wow.’”
Each dish is one of a kind, so make the plate your own. Priding himself on individuality, chef Sam creates every single dessert as “something I’ve never created before and is one of a kind. Like a snowflake—no two of my desserts are ever alike.”
Make It Fun
“Create a whimsical plate—meaning happy, colorful and bright,” suggests chef Sam. Use spoons, knives, graters and squeeze bottles to have fun with designing your plate. Sliced fruits, chopped nuts or mint and fresh cremes provide additional dimensions. A swipe here and a drop or two there can make quite an impact on someone expecting a traditional dish. Adamant about having a good time with the process, chef Sam exclaims, “If you’re not having fun, just don’t do it.”
Experiment and have a good time with your food—or better yet, join us at the farmer’s daughter restaurant to experience a taste of our most creative presentations from the talented staff of culinary visionaries at Normandy Farm.
Located just 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and situated in the heart of Blue Bell, Pa., Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center is more than a meticulously restored American landmark—it's a fully wired, high-tech hospitality venue. Relax on our grand terrace, sip a cocktail in America's oldest silo, play a challenging game of golf on our championship course, plan an event with us or dine on our delectable farm-to-table cuisine. It all adds up to One Historic Experience.