Transforming a plain old plate into a work of art is just a simple garnish away.
Step 1: Wash the food Gently rinse the tomato, carrot, mushrooms, celery, and strawberries.
Step 2: Sculpt a tomato rose Start with a classic tomato rose. Holding the fruit stem-side up, begin at the top. With the paring knife, begin peeling a half-inch-wide strip of skin. Turn the tomato, cutting a single unbroken strip into a jagged spiral. Lay the strip down on the cutting board and gently roll it into the shape of a rose.
TIP: When choosing garnishes, select foods whose colors and flavors complement the dish.
Step 3: Curl carrots Using the peeler, skin lengthwise strips from a raw carrot. Roll the strips into circles and secure each with a toothpick. Soak the carrot curls in ice water for one hour. Drain, remove the toothpicks, and you’ve got a simple, vibrant garnish.
Step 4: Make fluted mushrooms To create a fluted mushroom, cleanly slice the top off a button mushroom—just enough to get a flat surface. With the tip of the paring knife, make shallow cuts to create a star or swirl pattern around the edge. Create your main design in the center of the mushroom top.
TIP: Sauté fluted mushrooms in butter for an easy, tasty side dish.
Step 5: Twirl celery Chop an inch from either end of a piece of celery and cut the stalk into three-inch pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise into skinny strips, stopping about a half-inch before the end. Place the celery in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate until the ends have curled.
Step 6: Craft an orange boat An orange boat adds elegance to any cocktail. Cut an orange into thin slices. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of one slice. Wrap the orange around the cherry and insert a toothpick width-wise to secure. Balance the toothpick on the rim of a cocktail glass and serve.
Step 7: Fan strawberries Holding a strawberry stem-side down, cut four or five slices, stopping just before the stem. Turn the berry onto its side, fan out the pieces, and garnish away.
Step 8: Coil some chocolate Pour melted chocolate onto a clean, smooth surface. With a spatula, spread it evenly about a quarter-inch thick. After it cools, slide the spatula under and across the chocolate at a 30-degree angle. As you scrape, the chocolate will coil tightly, forming a beautiful dessert topping.
FACT: A $3,000 cocktail served in Las Vegas called the 'Menage a Trois' is garnished with edible 23-karat gold flakes.