Just in time for the holidays, we asked Jesse of The Living Platter for some of her top tips to building a gorgeous (and satisfying!) graze board.
Hi, I’m Jesse and this is my company The Living Platter! At The Living Platter I create stunning plant based platters and host platter making workshops! From mini to-go platters to 200 people grazing tables it is my goal to create in a way that elevates your event, transforms your space and showcases the beautiful potential of plant based foods! I believe the days of the sad fruit and veggie trays are long gone! With the amazing variety of plant based food at our finger tips creating healthy plant based versions of traditional charcuterie boards has never been easier! I can’t wait to share some of my best platter tips and tricks with you so you can wow your guests this holiday season!
I can't wait to create with you!
So what is a graze board?
A graze board is a board filled with a variety of dips, cheeses, crackers, and fresh produce presented in a stylized way for people to feast on! Intended as nibbles and light snacks to elevate an afternoon or serve as appetizers before a bigger meal. The idea is that people can graze leisurely throughout an event, creating taste combinations and selecting the foods they enjoy the most! A graze board catches peoples eyes and encourages people to dive right in!
How is it different from a charcuterie or cheese plate that people might be more familiar with?
The boards and platters I create are entirely plant based! This means I replace the traditional cheeses with delicious vegan cheese options and replace charcuterie meats with other goodies like fresh fruits, coconut chips, dark chocolates, granola bites and dried mangos!
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to creating a plant-based menu for entertaining or events?
One of the biggest struggles I encountered when creating a plant based menu for events is challenging peoples conception of what vegan food looks and tastes like. When people hear plant based I think they envision the a sad side salad but that is simply not the case anymore. Creating a plant based menu for me is all about flipping that perspective and showcasing how satisfy and flavourful and hearty vegan food can be. That is why one of my favourite elements of a grazing board is vegan cheese! When you find a vegan cheese done right you can blow the minds of your guests!
What’s your favourite thing to pair with cashew cheese?
Dang, this is hard! My favourite thing to pair with cashew cheese is a salty cracker, (lately I have been obsessed with garlic and onion rice crackers) and add a sweet fruit on top like a raspberry! It is such a yummy and fresh combo with the sweet, salty and creamy cashew cheese!
What’s the trick to determining how much food you need for the number of guests?
Oooh, this is a good question! At first this took a lot of trial and error, my tricks would be to ask yourself what is the purpose of your grazing table. Is it to really fill peoples bellies for the afternoon, or is it to serve as a lighter nibble before a larger meal? Once you determine the purpose it can help you gauge how much food you might need. My main trick would be go heavier on dry goods like crackers and add fresh fruits as accents. Especially if you are hosting at home that way you can keep extra crackers in your pantry for next time you are hosting or preparing a grazing table!
What are your top five tips for beautiful presentation?
Laying your base: Having neat rows of crackers really makes a platter look crisp and organized! I like to space out all the crackers in neat rows on my platter before I add anything else! If you are having trouble keeping your crackers standing up neatly use larger fruits like strawberries as “book ends” to hold up the row of crackers.
As you continue to add the ingredients to your platter be mindful to keep like colours separate. For example, if you are adding both strawberries and raspberries I would place them apart from each other on the platter so I don’t end up with a large spot of red! I love having bright pops of fruit throughout the entire platter rather than all concentrated in one place!
If you are adding dips to you platter adding a swirl really elevates the look! Take a clean spoon and using the back end start on the outside edge of you dip and swirl inwards in a circular motion, when you reach the centre pull up on the spoon to get that perfect ice cream swirl effect!
The finishing touches! I love adding flowers to tie everything together at the end, its a fun way to add different colours that match whatever theme you are going for! My favourite flowers to add at carnations and nasturtiums because they are both edible and food safe!
My top fruit for a luxurious touch is adding figs! If you can find fresh figs at your local grocery store or farmers market adding them to your platter as a final detail makes for the icing on the cake!