When she’s not traveling the world in search of the next beautiful plate, Maria Nguyen is in LA honing in on the subject of plating and pushing the conversation forward to inspire creativity. Find out more behind the woman who created #TheArtOfPlating.
What was the inspiration behind The Art of Plating?
I was an art director before so I’ve always had a strong passion for art, design and really anything creative. At the time I would be working through these elaborate recipes that would take hours to create. When I was finished though, my food didn’t look like the photos in the cookbooks! So I started researching everywhere and realized the topic was nonexistent. That was the catalyst to everything.
The Art of Plating has close to 700k followers and a million photo submissions. Are you surprised at how much it’s grown?
Yes and no because I knew that I wouldn’t be the only person who could appreciate this kind of creativity.
Why do you think plating is important?
For obvious reasons, you eat with your eyes! But also because food and art are universal languages and when you put them together, it can be extremely powerful. I love that I can go anywhere in the world and not know the same language as someone but we can totally connect.
What’s considered a good plate to you?
The dish needs to make sense conceptually. Do the flavors and textures go well together? Is it edible? And visually it has to be balanced, clean, and thoughtful.
What’s your motivation?
I’m really passionate about the stories. For me it’s the whole process of plating. Everything that it takes to get from Point A to Point B: the stories of farmers, the people who make the plates, the chefs and their ideas and how they even were inspired to come up with a beautiful dish like that.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
All of our projects are each so special to me. From all the short films we’ve produced, to our collaboration dinners we’ve hosted, and to our limited edition The Art of Plating x Mishmash Recipe Notebook which was our first tangible product!
Where has The Art of Plating taken you?
I’ve been to a total of 15 countries and counting so far. Singapore, Spain, France, Italy… do layovers count?
What is your earliest memory with food?
My mother in the kitchen all day and our dinner table never not full of food. There was always a variety of dishes on the table — hot, cold, sweet, spicy, sour, and salty — which has definitely translated into how I like to eat now.
What does a typical meal at home consist of?
I love vegetables so a typical home meal for me is any kind of vegetable is in season being the star of the plate.
In your fridge you always have:
Favorite ingredient of the moment?
Whole dried peppers I found while traveling through Italy. They are tiny but mighty!