Chef Ryan

Cajun Chef Ryan

Feeling & sharing a world of cooking ~ more than your average Cajun


Cold Food Presentations and Displays ~ Garde Manger

November 18th, 2009 · 20 Comments

Cold food displays and presentations take on many forms from fruits, vegetables, salads, cold deli meats, cheeses, aspics, chaud froid, caviar, canapés, cold hors d’oeuvres, charcuterie, garnish and garniture, and edible centerpiece carvings such as ice, vegetable, fruit, cheese, salt, dough, and tallow.  Typically, these preparations are relegated duty of the Garde Manger (GM) station of traditionally organized brigade style kitchens, or the pantry for smaller facilities. The GM station of the kitchen has the most opportunity to shine with artistic talents and can be one of the more tedious stations with respect to patience, time, and talent. For more detail on the derivation and definition of the term Garde Manger, click the hyperlink to learn additional information. Also, if you want to see some examples of the various types of edible carvings, click on the hyperlinks for those too. (NOTE: Click on images for a larger view.)

Fruit Display ImageThis started out as a simple post about fresh fruit displays, but knowing it would only touch on a small portion of the larger GM picture, it has thus incorporated the broader scope with this writing. Having taught three classes in Garde Manger at the Delgado Community College Culinary Arts Department, I felt more needed to be said about the bigger picture.

Cold food displays, including trays, and mirrors have been a part of my catering and banquet repertoire since going back to the apprentice days at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans, LA. When working the Garde Manger station it was not unusual to spend the entire day peeling, seeding and slicing or dicing fruit, cases of fresh watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew, Crenshaw, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi, star fruit, and washing pounds of grapes, strawberries and blueberries. Filling up rolling carts with sheet pans of sliced fruit protected with layers of parchment paper and then wrapped within plastic wrap for storage until ready to plate up or tray them onto lettuce leaf lined platters, trays or mirror displays for buffets, banquets and special functions.

The images below represent several stages of learning during the apprenticeship years while working the Garde Manger station at the Hyatt, and one from culinary class at Delgado. These images are taken from my Culinary Apprentice Log Book, signed weekly by the property chef and which was a requirement for certification.

Charcuterie Display Image
Charcuterie Display
Fruit Tray Display Image
Fruit Tray Display
Charcuterie Display Image

Cheese Tray Displays

Fruit Tray Display Image

Canapé Displays

Fruit Tray Display Image

Canapé & Deli Displays

Fresh Fruit Display

Fruit Display ImageOn Saturday, November 7, 2009 our little Ben become confirmed into the Catholic Church and we threw a party in his honor with about 30 or so friends and family in attendance I decided to throw down a bit and show off my Garde Manger talents. With an apple bird in the plans, turns out that three other fruit centerpieces took center stage, the apple bird never appeared, but maybe next time. However, found this instructional video, which is quite similar to the technique I have utilized and taught over the years, click on the hyperlink to view the apple bird demonstration.

Fruit Display Image

With some newly purchased white platters from Pampered Chef, I created three fruit displays of the assorted fresh delights. Some skill is involved with the fruit centerpiece carving skills, and with a very minimum of making simple baskets and at the other option of making intricate carvings …which takes time and patience…both of which I was without late Saturday afternoon. Presentation depends on if the fruit is on platters, plates, or mirrors, with more room for scattered effect from lettuce-lined trays, but mirrors take more skill. For example, once an item is placed on a cleaned mirror, it should not be lifted due to food residue leaving marks on the reflections.

Artistry and Creativity

Creativity plays a large part in putting together fruit displays. The same can be said for cheese trays, canapés, and any cold food presentations on buffets, banquets or party tables and spreads. The plethora of colors, shapes, and combinations of various fruits, cheeses, and edible decorations combine to form a flowing presentation that typically is accentuated by multiple levels. Building levels on presentations with the higher level toward the back and flowing downward toward the front of the service line besides giving the perception of height and copious amounts, but aids in the guests when reaching for food items toward the back.

A few more tips, when making cold food presentations include a balance of colors, shapes, textures, and flavors. Portion size is not a real concern as it is for plating, since most cold food displays and presentations are in the buffet style, diners will pick their own portions. Just make sure you have enough quantity for the number of expected guests.

Tags: Garde Manger

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Trix // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:01 am

    This stuff is so fascinating to me! It just reinforces how working with food is a real art.

  • 2 Divina // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Garde manger is one of the meticulous station in the kitchen next to pastry. But it’s worth learning them. They food presentations and displays are gorgeous. They are really a work of art. I need patience in doing this though.

  • 3 Lori Lynn // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Great post Ryan. I had to enlarge the photos to get a real good look, so colorful!

  • 4 Ryan Boudreaux // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Please do click on the images for a larger view, each image is 800 pixels wide when clicked and will not fit in full view within the original post. That is why I thumbnail them in the original posts, gives readers the option to click and also helps the pages load faster.

  • 5 Drick // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:34 am

    now that’s what we call a nice spread…

  • 6 The Chocolate Priestess // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Thank you for this post. I learned a lot about restaurants and about food presentation. Perhaps if I get the opportunity I can use some of these ideas in some of my photos.

  • 7 John D. // Nov 18, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Great post as always. It’s good to see GM get its props!

    I never got the apple bird down. Time to go practice.

  • 8 Kelly // Nov 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Incredible and fascinating! Thank you for sharing–I felt like a culinary student reading this post. I wish I had had the push in that direction years ago. You’ve worked hard to get where you are and it shows in your recipes and posts–really enjoy reading these!

  • 9 Jenn @ cook or be eaten // Nov 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for the info! I’m all confused when I watch Top Chef and they tell you what restaurant and position they are in the kitchen … I should bother looking it up sometime … ha ha!

  • 10 Jessie // Nov 18, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    this is a very educational entry about food presentation which I find helpful for future food photos and presenting dishes at a party

  • 11 MaryMoh // Nov 18, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Oh my gosh….what a lovely display of creative food display. I don’t think I would have the heart to eat them and spoil the beautiful work.

  • 12 Gera @ SweetsFoods // Nov 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    This is my kind of art!!

    Just amazing. Food enter for the eyes 🙂



  • 13 Wassa // Nov 18, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I like this post– it educated me about food display and presentation.. make me want to eat them all 🙂

  • 14 Kristen // Nov 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Wonderful work, truly is an art form. Thanks for sharing

  • 15 JMom // Nov 18, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Great tips and background information. I didn’t know about Garde Manger 🙂

  • 16 giz // Nov 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Absolutely beautiful

  • 17 pegasuslegend // Nov 18, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Awesome Artwork wow!!!

  • 18 Nancy @ Display stands // Nov 19, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Quite literally food for the eyes! Very beautiful and delicious I’m sure. I can’t believe the amount of work that has gone into that, harder than it looks obviously!

  • 19 penny aka jeroxie // Nov 19, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Food porn. enough said.

  • 20 Chef Syed Abdul Attique // Jun 12, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Good Explanation about buffet displays,One can easily use the information to improve his/her buffet presentation skill.We in our academy always emphasise these points in our subject Buffets and Banquets.
    However your information will definitely help us to improve in what we are doing.

    Chef Syed Abdul Attique

    Culinary Academy of India