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The BUFF System: Enhance Your Meal Presentation by Jesse Bluma

The BUFF System:  Enhance Your Meal Presentation

We are not all Pierre Koffman, Thomas Keller, Martha Stewart, nor Gastón Acurio.  Yet, we can all enhance our meals.  The time we take to slow down and carefully create something better for ourselves and others is an action that demonstrates we care and honor the ingredients and for whom we cook.  Learning to master cooking techniques takes time, practice, effort, dedication, reinforcement, and perseverance.  As well as a lot more.       

You have the recipe.  You have the ingredients.  You have made the time.  Now how do you create a better meal?  The BUFF System, utilized in schools such as the Culinary Institute of America, makes use of the principles used in art and design.  You may remember in any art classes that you have taken using terms such as movement, balance, contrast, proportion, and pattern.  These same principles apply to how you cook and create meals.  The acronym BUFF is an essential memory tool for the home and professional chef.  B for balance.  U for unity.  F for focal point.  F for flow.

Balance:  The use of color, food combinations, garnishes, shapes, textures, portion sizes, and flavors in a thoughtful, effective, and exceptional manner.  

Note the mood, expression, and pyramid structure of the Mona Lisa and the balance of textures and colors in the salad. 

Unity:  The use of contrasts, negative and positive spacing, limited height, and consistent theme in a thoughtful, effective, and exceptional manner. 

Note the use of light, shadow, and complete story told in The Milkmaid and the unity of the dessert giving the diner a complete platting of sweet items of various colors, textures, and temperatures.  

Focal Point:  The use of a larger size food with smaller shaped foods, may add height and/or a spot of color in a thoughtful, effective, and exceptional manner. 

Note the arrangement of figures and action in the painting by Vincenzo Camuccini and the placement of the egg within the composition of the spinach salad.

Flow:  The use of aesthetic and design principles to enhance the visual presentation, interest, and style of a dish; may utilize knife techniques, curved items, fanned items, and layering in a thoughtful, effective, and exceptional manner.

Note the movement and curves in the bronze by Frederic Remington, as well as the precise placement and flowing structure of ravioli and garnish in the soup.  

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