As caterers, we understand that food plating and presentation are vital to a guests experience.  People “eat with their eyes” so creative plating adds to the visual appeal of a dish.  Here are a few tips to plating up the perfect dish for your guests this Christmas.

Choose the perfect plate…..

Having the right plate to present your dish on is like having the perfect canvas or frame for your painting

  1. Size – Make sure that the plate is the right size to frame the food and that your food stands out.  A plate with a rim is great for creating a border around the food.  Make sure that the plate is not so big that it makes your meal size look too small!
  2. Colour – The colour of your plate is key to attractive food presentation.  Black or white plates provide a nice contrast to the colours of your food, so is nearly always a popular choice. There are also a lot of other modern colour options available on the market these days, so it’s a good excuse to go shopping and update your old dinner set!  So give some thought to the components of your dish and what colour plate would be complementary.

To plate…

  1. The wet ingredients – such as jus, puree or sauce should be put on the plate first. Consider how much you are putting on the plate so as not to drown your meal! On top of this you can then place your starch, or your dessert. 
  2. Odd Numbers – It is always visually appealing (and a trick of the trade) to plate an odd number of the small bite sized items on your plate such as scallops, onion rings.
  3. Colours –While the focus of the dish is usually on the protein, think about the colours and how they will contrast on the plate. We like to use ingredients such as crisp green vegetables or fresh herbs, bright orange carrot or pumpkin puree or pickled pink onions to create our masterpieces.  These vibrant colours add to the visual appeal of the dish.  Edible flowers are also a great way to add visual appeal to a meal!
  4. Height – here at Dish we like to experiment with height when presenting our meals. The main we achieve this is by adding garnishes that give height to the dish such as a wafer, which is placed at a 45-degree angle against the side of a protein. Pea tendrils also add a pop of colour while creating elegant height to our dishes.
  5. Texture – Contrasting texture with complementary flavours add visual appeal, as on the palate. Imagine a creamy Asian-inspired sauce served with grainy rice, a soft slice of salmon topped with crispy cucumber and pickled pink onions – Yum! Crispy shallots add a pleasing crunch to a dish too!
  6. Garnishing – Garnishes are key as they are the finishing touch to any dish. Garnishes need to be edible and the flavours need to be complementary to the dish.  Fresh Vietnamese mint and coriander go exceptionally well with Asian style dishes, and help to enhance the flavours on the plate.  A sugar wafer or biscotti placed on a creamy dessert such as crème brulee add both contrasting texture, height and taste amazing!


Peanut Butter Ice cream recipe

Peanut Butter Ice cream Recipe Courtesy of “Duck and Waffle” by Daniel Doherty

Here at Dish, we are always experimenting, trying new recipes, combining tastes and ideas to create new and tasty menus. And this is one of our new favourite recipes….

The recipe for this sumptuous and highly addictive Peanut Butter Ice cream is out of one of my all time favourite cookbooks “Duck and Waffle” by Daniel Doherty , and it is a compilation of recipes and dishes at the infamous 24/7 London Restaurant “Duck and Waffle” .

We are well and truly addicted to this ice cream and wanted to share the recipe with you!  Here we have combined it with a rich White Chocolate mud cake, Berry Coulis and Fairy Floss.  You could also make it into an Ice-cream sundae for the kids topped with caramelised nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts, drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped off with a healthy dollop of whipped cream! Yum!!


500ml milk

500ml double cream

1 vanilla pod

190g caster sugar

4 tablespoons good quality smooth peanut butter

10 egg yolks


To make the ice cream, bring the milk, cream and vanilla to the boil in a large saucepan.  Meanwhile, put the sugar, peanut butter and egg yolks into a bowl and whisk very well. (Sugar absorbs moisture, and if you don’t mix straight away you will have pieces of dried egg yolk where all the moisture has been removed by the sugar, so beware!)


Once the milk and cream comes to the boil, pour half in to the yolk mix and whisk together.  Pour this back into the remaining milk and cream in the saucepan and heat until gently thickened.  You can use a thermometer to check this. (84°C is the correct temperature – any higher and the eggs will scramble and the ice-cream will be lumpy) Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon and stays there without running off straight away.

Strain the mixture and transfer to another bowl to stop it cooking, then cool and churn.


If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, freeze the mixture in four batches and once frozen, blend in a food processor. Return to the freezer after blending.

Havelock North High School Ball in the Opera House Plaza

Last Saturday night we were privileged to host the Havelock North High School Ball at the Hawkes Bay Opera House Plaza, it was such a special occasion. The Plaza is the ideal space for any type of large event, including school balls.

It was a glamorous setting once night fell and the lights twinkled. Rachel Stuart from The Flower Studio and Henry and Dane from Sight and Sound Services transformed the space into a magical night garden.

Our stunning guests enjoyed the following Menu:

Braised beef cheek, crispy roasted potatoes with rosemary and sea salt, red wine jus and salsa verde


Crispy pork belly with crispy roasted potatoes with rosemary and sea salt, cider jus, creamy savoy, bacon braise

Mains served with mesculin green salad served in bowls to the tables


Followed by:

A selection of Ice cream’s from the Rush Munroe’s’ Ice cream Cart


Image is courtesy of Simon Cartwright Photography


Contact us today to arrange your Special Occasion!

Havelock North High School Ball in the Opera House Plaza

Barbeque Spiced Pig's Ears

A strange recipe I know, but these crispy, salty, sweet and smokey pigs ears are incredible! I love challenging people out of their comfort zones with food, and recently did so with these at a dinner party. Reluctant to try them at first, my guests were all brave and needless to say, there were none left over!

Try the recipe, it is well worth it.  This recipe is out of one of my favourite cookbooks “Duck and Waffle” by Daniel Doherty , and it is a compilation of recipes and dishes at the infamous 24/7 London Restaurant “Duck and Waffle”

The spice mix is also fantastic on chicken, lamb or beef.


Serves: 6 as a snack

Day 1

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 3 hours


Day 2

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 4 minutes


For the pig’s ears

6 pig’s ears, washed

1 onion, peeled

2 sticks of celery

2 carrots, peeled

2 bay leaves

1 sprig of fresh thyme

10 peppercorns

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Plain flour, for dusting

Sea salt


For the spice mix

60g smoked paprika

20g onion powder

20g garlic powder

40g table salt

60g light brown sugar


Day 1

Give the ears a good scrub in cold water.  Place them in a saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Bring to the boil, then pour off the water and transfer the ears to a clean saucepan.  Fill with fresh, clean, cold water and add the whole vegetables, herbs and peppercorns.  Slowly bring to the boil, skimming constantly.  Once at the boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 hours.

Allow to cool in the cooking liquid, then lift out and place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper.  Place another sheet on top, and lay another tray on top of that.  Place in the fridge, and put anything heavy you may have on top – this could be a few tins or a couple of plates.  Leave overnight.


Day 2

Heat the oil to 180`C in your deep-fat fryer or in a heavy based saucepan.

When the ears are cold, they will be nice and firm; this makes them much easier to cut.  Slice them as thinly as you can, aiming for 1-2mm thick, and dust with four. Shake off the excess and place in the fryer for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp.  Be careful of any spitting fat here, and have a lid or splatter screen ready to slip on top of the fryer once the ears go in.

Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, as it can sometimes drop when you add the ears.  If it does, just tweak it up to 190`C so it regulates itself.

Remove from the fryer, place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Mix all the spice mix ingredients together. Add 2 teaspoons of the spice mix to the ears, shake them around until all of them are coated, and add a little sea salt too.

If you would like a copy of this fabulous book for yourself, you can find it at the Book Depository following the link.

Mothers Day menu

Looking to treat mum to lunch in the Hawke’s Bay this Mother’s Day? Look no further than Church Road Wines Restaurant, Taradale for an enjoyable family lunch. Church Road Wines and Dish catering have used their expertise and passion to wine match dishes on our special Mother’s Day menu, providing the complete wine and food experience. We’re offering a 3 course set menu with delicious platter and cheeseboard options.

Download our Mother’s Day menu.

For bookings, please contact 06 833 8224 or email

Opening hours 11.30am – 2.30pm, 7 days a week.

School Ball Package 2016

The Opera House Plaza is a modern blank canvas that allows you to keep it simple or dress it up according to your theme. The glass panels along the street can be raised and lowered giving you a range of options for where your guests can enter. And don’t forget the roof!!! It can be retracted so that your guests can mingle under the stars in the night sky….

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We are excited to share the recipe for our Thai Style Market Fish Salad which is currently featuring on the menu at Church Road. We love this Dish, it has delightfully crisp fresh flavours, making it the perfect meal this summer!
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