Serving Dinner On Colorful Plates? Ina Garten Doesn't Approve

Take an extra close look at all the pictures of food on Ina Garten's Instagram, her blog, and in the pages of every "Barefoot Contessa" cookbook. Whether it's a dessert, a starter, or a full meal, you'll notice that almost every single dish is served on a white plate. This is no coincidence — the celebrity chef once revealed in an interview with CNN Underscored that she doesn't think using colorful plates is always the best idea when hosting.

"I definitely like white. The plate is really about what makes the food look best and I like it set against a white background," she explained to the outlet. "I never like plates that have patterns on them." Garten also shared in the Ask Ina section of her website that her go-to is the dinnerware from Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel, specifically from the brands Pillivuyt and Apilco, because of their "huge range of white china."

Does plate color really matter that much?

Most home cooks probably don't think too hard about following rules when plating food, but professional chefs will often avoid plates with certain colors based on the recipes they're serving. For example, red plates are generally best avoided when serving salads because they distract your eyes from the green, making the food seem less fresh than it actually is. For desserts, blue isn't the most popular choice because desserts are typically warm-toned, and blue can make them seem less sweet.

You might assume Ina Garten's preferred plate color is the most neutral option. However, research suggests otherwise, reports NPR. According to findings published by Oxford University experimental psychologist Charles Spence, who spoke with the outlet, white plates have just as much of an effect on how food tastes as colorful plates do. White plates don't just make food stand out visually, they also increase the perception of sweetness, Spence explained in his book "The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining."

Ina Garten's exception to using colorful plates

Ina Garten may have a strong preference for serving food on white plates, but she does own some colorful ones. "I love to serve dessert on colorful old-fashioned plates that I collect at flea markets and antique china stores," she admitted on her website. She also wrote that she does reserve some gray colored platters for serving salads and green vegetables.

As seen in one of her Instagram posts, Garten also makes an exception for plates with numbering. Considering she's always hosting dinner parties, it makes sense that she'd be a fan of plates that also double as seat assignments.

To add color to her dinner table without resorting to colorful plates, Garten doesn't shy away from incorporating color elsewhere, like in a flower arrangement, the place settings, or by displaying herbs from her garden. In most cases, though, she seems to stick to white plates to keep the food the center of attention.