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Plating food or Family Style?

When we have a small number of guests for dinner (4 - 6, usually), I most often plate the food, mainly for presentation purposes. But someone mentioned to me that it imposes portion size on people they may not want (too much or too little of something). On the flip side, I've had guests say 'thank goodness you didn't put the food on the table, because then I eat too much'.

So what say you? Plate, or put all the food on the table and let people serve themselves?

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  1. If I'm serving a number of courses (say more than 3), I like to plate because it helps pace the meal (and consumption thereof) so that people have room for the latter courses. I usually err on the smaller size for portions, but if someone's finished it, I'll say that there is more, though we are also having x, y & z. For family dinners (ie the two of us) I usually serve family style, though sometimes straight from the kitchen as well.

    1. I never plate food because I don't know what people eat or don't eat, or how much they want of anything. I usually lay out serving dishes and cutlery and ask people to serve themselves. It's more messy but that way I don't have to throw away uneaten servings of food.

      1. I let people serve themselves because most often, I'm mixing a group of people of myriad food allergies, food preferences and eating styles (don't ask). I generally put food out "buffet style" on a separate table with ingredient cards.

        If I'm serving a number of courses, then I'll let everyone know ahead of time (in case they want to save room).

        I keep throw-away containers on hand to get rid of leftovers. If I'm certain something will be a hit, I keep recipe cards ready too.

        1. For our gourmet club dinners most often we plate because of the courses. Sometimes I set things up buffet style around the cooktop because I can keep somethings warm that way for folks going back for seconds. When it is just the 2 of us most often I plate unless I am doing something more ethnic where there might be mosr than one dish or i just don't want to leave food sitting in the wok.

          1. I prefer family-style.

            There are times when I'd rather not have carbs or don't like something or simply want to eat less. Rather than make a big deal of it, I'll just serve myself accordingly.