You’ve probably seen them by now and if you haven’t, after this you’ll want to make one: grazing tables & platters are an incredible sight at any party or event. Here at Euphorie Studios, photoshoot days often feel like a good disguise for us to make a nice grazing platter despite the fact that it rarely lasts past mid morning. We wanted to give you some tips and ideas incase you decide to make one of these displays of beauty at home or for an event.
(Pictured: Image via Wedding Venues UK on Pinterest)
First things first, you’re going to need something to place your arrangement on. When you see these glamorous spreads, you might be asking yourself “how on earth do I find a gigantic 1 metre by 1 metre chopping board (or bigger in some cases) if I don’t already own one?” There’s an easier answer: If you don’t happen to have a large chopping board on hand, you can either use multiple smaller ones and cover them in some form of parchment paper or you can just skip the chopping board part and take the even easier approach of using a large piece of (clean) parchment paper to arrange your choices on. You can find these at a bunch of different places like Office Works, Kmart, QIS Packaging or even supermarkets like Woolworths! Most people tend to go with basic plain brown parchment paper but the choice is totally up to you.
Once you’ve found the paper you want to use, you’ll want to create a shopping list of foods and ingredients to become a part of your arrangement.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing ingredients: allergies of your guests and other things such as how healthy you or your guests will want it to be. For example, a meat heavy platter among a group of vegetarian or vegan friends won’t make a very good impression, so in that case, you’d want to find the right balance that fits your guests. You can use things like chocolate, donuts and other treats but you might want to include some healthy alternatives depending on the nature of the event you’re creating this glorious arrangement for. You’ll also want to attempt to stick with high quality ingredients if you really want it to taste as good as it will look.
Some types of food and ingredients to consider for your shopping list:
(pictured: image via Plentiful Catering)
Fruit based options: Apple slices, berries, grapes, melons, olives and similar fruits. You can also include dried versions of yummy fruits too such as apricots, cranberries or cherries.
Vegetable based options: Carrot sticks, cauliflower, marinated zucchini’s, radishes, celery and other veggies you & your guests might be into. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Meat based options: sliced ham, salami (both sliced and salami sticks can be a solid choice here), prosciutto, sliced chicken and so, so much more.
Cheeses: this list can be almost infinite, so you will want to keep in mind the types of cheeses your guests might be interested in. You can play it safe with options like brie, cheddar, blue cheese, camembert or feta.
(image courtesy of Pinterest)
Desserts/Treats: The beauty of a grazing platter is that you can pair so many different types of ingredients to encompass all of the tastes you’re after, which makes the options endless. However, with desserts and treats, there are so many options that it can be hard to not get lost in the mouth water beauty of it all and want to just skip the platter and eat half of it before you can bring it to life. Some of the desserts we’ve personally included in our platters and tables have been things like chocolates (all types, from dark to white, dairy milk to caramel and everything in between), donuts (cinnamon, cream, chocolate filled; the options are endless with places like Krispie Kreme, supermarkets etc), slices of cake, brownies, biscuits, macarons and much more.
Dips: Just like all the other ingredients, there are so many dips to choose from. We tend to stick to some of the classics with our grazing platters such as French onion dip, garlic dip, hummus, bruschetta and a few other regulars. Honestly, we go a little bit crazy on dips sometimes..
There are also a whole host of condiments you might want to include such as honey, jams, mustards or preserves.
Breads & crackers: Okay, okay, as we said, we love our dips but they’re only complete with things to dip IN the dips. Things like your classic jatz, croissants, baguettes, sourdough and whatever else hits the spot at any given time. Other good options are pita breads, flat breads like naan or even the classic plain old loaf of bread toasted and cut up into small shapes to dip with! You may also want to include things such as nuts, pretzels, popcorn or cheese sticks too.
You can also combine many of these things and pair them up in delicious ways such as chocolate covered fruits or nuts. Don’t be afraid to add in some more common things like sliced apples, strawberries, oranges or grapes.
You might be wondering where to start when it feels like there are endless possibilities of ingredients to include but it’s not so bad. To help you narrow down choices, it’s a good idea to choose a theme to follow for your arrangement.
Feel free to utilise props from around your kitchen to bring your table or platter to life: turning bowls upside down and covering them with the parchment paper you’re going to use to lay your arrangement out is a great way to elevate certain foods to make them more prominent in the platter. Adding a sense of height to a food table so that it appears to have multiple layers makes it far more interesting for your guests to look at and pick apart. To achieve this there are many ways you can do it outside of bowls such as small boxes, containers, upside down deep dish plates and so many other similar items that you’ll probably have around home.
Adding in other things like edible flowers or greenery for aesthetic purposes is another great way to add more texture to the overall look of the grazing table or platter and bring it to life even more. You could potentially include other things such as kiwifruit, pomegranate, dragonfruit or passionfruit and others to really make the colours pop out and be that much more eye catching.
All of this may sound incredibly expensive - honestly, sometimes it can be - but there are many, many ways to scale this on a budget and still create a delicious dreamy platter without spending excessively on it.
(Image via Creativlee)
When it comes to arranging your grazing platter, the options are endless. Once you’ve chosen a theme of some sort, you can start preparing foods for arrangement. You’ll want to cut everything up to be bite-size so that your guests won’t need to fight over knives to cut up the foods they’ll want - avoid having big chunks of cheese that need to be cut up by pre-cutting them ahead of serving. For cheeses; you’ll want to cut them into chunks, slices or cubes depending on the specific cheese. When it comes to fruits and veggies, slice them into strips or bite-size pieces for convenience. Be sure to have a few small bowls on hand for things like dips, nuts and similar items.
One thing to always keep in mind: as humans, we all tend to eat with our eyes long before anything else. Arranging things in an exciting looking way will bring people back for more and more!
When you’re ready to lay the arrangement out, start with your basic items first: bowls or jars that you’ll use with things like dips, nuts etc because its much easier to place things around these items than to try and fit these items in around food. If you plan to include things like fresh flowers for more colour/aesthetic reasons, place these next. When it comes to arranging a grazing table or platter, it tends to be much less stressful to ‘think inside the box’ by placing the bigger things down first like the aforementioned and then work around it, it reduces any stress of wondering where to put EVERYTHING.
You’ll want to keep your arrangement laid out in a logical way such as placing crackers near dip, or if you plan on having strawberries that can be dipped in chocolate: have the jar of chocolate dip near the strawberries etc so people aren’t having to hover over the platter to dip foods. Also, depending on your theme, adding garnishes like some herbs or some rosemary on some parts of it can be a really good idea too to give it even more texture.
Be sure to place the larger ingredients down first and fill in gaps with smaller ones that make sense. Let your creativity flow, make something that YOU like and showcase your own personal aesthetic and taste based around the theme you’ve chosen.
Bonus tips: You might want to have some extra food just incase. One thing we’ve come to realise with the platters we have at our studio and during photoshoots is that some parts tend to get eaten long before the rest and you’re left with gaps in your arrangement. Having some extras to refill those gaps for your guests is a great idea.
In the end, the platter you create will come down to your own individual tastes and flare. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things because grazing platters can be just as fun to set up as they are to eat. Are you as addicted to making/eating these as we are or have you made your own? Let us know in the comments, we reallllly love seeing peoples creations and the way they choose to bring it all together!