Why Some Chefs Finish Their Dishes With A Drizzle Of Olive Oil

When it comes to home cooking, there are many tips and tricks that we can learn from the professionals. Chefs have a way with food that can finesse flavor, texture, and presentation that us home cooks might not know about — unless we pick up what we can from the pros. Techniques such as salting meat ahead of time, maintaining super-sharp knives, and weighing baking ingredients as opposed to measuring them are just a few of the tips and tricks professional chefs employ to create standout food. 

Another way pro chefs set themselves apart from us amateurs? Their knowledge when it comes to finishing dishes. While us home cooks might just scoop some stew from the pot and sit down to eat, chefs are apt to "finish" a dish with a final grind of pepper or some other seasoning, sprinkle it with chopped fresh herbs, or, very commonly, drizzle it with some olive oil. So why would a dish that's cooked with fat need some additional fat on top? 

The reason chefs add olive oil may surprise you

Why do some chefs finish their dishes with a drizzle of olive oil? It's a question that has been on the minds of some Reddit users, as evidenced in a thread on the AskCulinary forum. And there were some surprisingly knowledgeable answers. One user wrote, "Flavour. High quality extra virgin olive oil, drizzled raw on top of food, has lots of organoleptic properties that disappear with high temperatures, so basically by doing so you are bringing back the flavour of the oil."

And as it turns out, this Reddit user is correct. Although food cooked in olive oil will obviously take on some of the flavors of that oil, heat destroys some of the flavonoids in olive oil and takes away some of its characteristic taste. That's why cooking experts generally advise to keep a few varieties of olive oil on hand — a mild one for use in cooking, and a more distinctive one for use in raw applications, such as vinaigrettes. As noted by Epicurious, a final drizzle of high-quality olive oil amps up the flavors in a dish, bringing "a dose of richness, body, flavor, and overall luxuriousness." Add it to the list of tips and tricks we'll be trying at home.