Food Styling 101: with Dry Creek Mercantile

Chef Joshua Turner Demonstrates How to Plate Pesto Alfredo with New York Strip Steak

Article by Julie Meyer

Photography by Kevin Schultz

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Taking a few extra minutes to attractively arrange your meal shows your family and friends that you care about them.  Food styling can turn a simple dinner into something special.  Plating a dish is an art, but with a little practice and a few guidelines any home cook can create something beautiful. 

1. Placement: For dishes meant to be eaten as a whole, center and stack the food on the plate. For dishes with separate components, arrange protein, vegetables and starch in a triangle toward the center of the plate.

2. Texture: Try to incorporate a variety of textures and pair contrasting textures for added interest—crunchy and tender, crispy and creamy, for example.

3. Color: A variety of colors adds visual appeal and excitement. Odd grouping of at least three colors are most pleasing to the eye. Fresh vegetables and garnishes are a quick way to add color.

4. Garnish with purpose: Garnishes should be attractive and edible. Rather than a sprig of parsley that will be left on the plate, try using microgreens or herbs that add freshness and flavor. Sauces should look purposeful, never messy or rushed. 

Pesto Alfredo with New York Strip Steak


4 New York strip steaks
1 pound fettuccine pasta, cooked al dente


1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts 
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1/4 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt to taste


Green and yellow pea micro greens
Fresh chives
Balsamic glaze


Season steak with salt and pepper and grill about 2-3 minutes per side until medium-rare, depending on thickness. Set aside and let rest. Prepare the pasta. In a dry skillet on medium to high heat, cook halved tomatoes until the skins start to blister. Set aside. Process basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and pepper in food processor until smooth. In a large sauté pan set between medium to high, heat heavy cream for several minutes until it starts to reduce. Add cheese until melted and mixed well, then add pesto sauce and stir well to combine. Add pasta to sauté pan and cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes, combining with sauce until evenly incorporated.

I have been in the culinary industry for 18 years. Throughout my life, I have always known that I would cook for my career as well as play a role in the hospitality industry. From mom-and-pop shops to banquets and caterings, I have always wanted to be part of the memories customers have associated with food. Throughout my career, I have always wanted to find a restaurant home with great ownership and a family feel. I found that at Dry Creek Mercantile with owner Joan Peterson. As executive chef, I have the privilege of being part of more than just a restaurant. In addition to the restaurant, we also offer a general store, Dry Creek Pizza, luxurious suites above the restaurant as well as full-service catering. With fresh products and new specials coming out every week, being a chef is one way I can share memories and my passion with everyone in Hidden Springs.  —Chef Joshua Turner 

5892 W. Hidden Springs Drive, Boise


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