Tricks to create a beautiful plate of food

LOS ANGELES Chefs Denise Vivaldo and Cindie Flannigan teach a styling workshop for food bloggers, who seem to eat up the tips.

"Thinking more in color and thinking more in dramatic effects, creating height and depth, having tomatoes cascade down a piece of salmon," said Brooke Burton, a food writer.

"A chicken's beautifully sliced, you can kind of create height on a plate," Armendariz said.

Food blogger and photographer Matt Armendariz actually got jobs shooting cookbooks after his postings of picture-perfect plates.

A lesson we can learn from this trend - something that smart chefs know - is that we eat with our eyes, so you need to make your plate a vision. It's not just for your family and guests, but for you as well.

In their new book, "The Encyclopedia of Entertaining," Vivaldo and Flannigan offer many smart serving ideas.

"There's rules to setting up a plate. We're looking for color, design, height, movement, different shapes," Vivaldo said.

You should also look for low-calorie creations with color.

"If you have a spotty-looking chicken, you can spray a little kitchen bouquet on it," Vivaldo said. "You you can take chicken, a piece of fish or beef, put it in a grill pan, a little bit of olive oil, you get those beautiful grill marks."

Need to make a sassy side? Vivaldo suggests taking plain old rice and adding a little turmeric to it. Tumeric is a beautiful golden-colored ingredient in curry that doesn't overpower food.

Lemon visually pairs well with fish, as does fresh herbs on most anything.

Vivaldo says beyond the menu, love your dining experience. Get out the china.

"I don't know why we think we're suppose to save this stuff. What are we saving it for?" she said. "If you put on your own lipstick in the morning, you know the difference between a little bit of blush and lipstick and not."

Vivaldo also said just using a cloth napkin will help you feel better about your food, and you'll enjoy it more - especially if you're dieting.

"Obviously, if your diet's limited, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy something visually," Armendariz said. "Take your time to set a nice table, to really embrace the aesthetics of the entire thing."

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