The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

November 9, 2013

Cooking with Simon: Every plate tells a story

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Food is about presentation, not just the recipe. And sometimes the plate or serving bowl holds as much importance as the food.

There's a whole world of dishes — round, square, hand-painted or fine china. There are new plates, old plates and special ones passed down from family members. Others might have been given to you for a special occasion, or purchased as a keepsake while traveling.

One of my favorites is a bowl I brought home from Scotland, or should I say Aberdeen. I was there some time ago to visit some of my cousins who live in Blackburn, not far from The Queen's royal estate — Balmoral Castle — a place that holds a lot of history for Great Britain, and my family too.

My mum's sister married a Scotsman and this part of Scotland, where they lived, was prime fishing country. My Granddad, family and later on myself, used to visit there to go salmon fishing.

But salmon from Scotland is another story. This is about the bowl I bought there that has become one of my favorite serving pieces. Of course it's sentimental, but also its large oval shape and deep sides make it perfect for almost anything I might serve at a dinner party. And the dark rim with a gold trim and berries gives it a casual elegance that's impressive, but not pretentious.

Table settings should be beautiful. but comfortable. Guests should always enjoy their experience at the table as much as the food. I wholeheartedly believe in proper etiquette, but it's more important that the dining experience should be memorable for everyone at the table. Making your guests comfortable is more important than proper plates, forks and water glasses.

It's attitude that is exemplified in style, food and atmosphere — an all-encompassing experience that enhances food and makes it more appetizing. And whatever style, pattern, memory or history your plates tell becomes part of the food you serve.

You know what they say,“You eat with your eyes, before you taste anything.”

What kind of story do your plates tell? Beautiful table settings — no mater where the plates, bowls and silver come from — can welcome your guests as much as the food.

Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine. For more information go to or call 903-729-9500.