One of the food-related questions I get asked most often is “How do you decide what to include on your charcuterie platter?”


While I could talk for days about this beloved topic, I’ll leave you simply with my top 5 strategies for putting together a snack board to steal the show at your next book club, cocktail party, or picnic.


1. Pick a Color Scheme / Vibe



I don’t randomly throw any of my boards together. I think about the purpose of the event. When working with a client, I ask them what kind of vibe they’re going for—colorful, bold, casual, rustic, or I determine if there’s a pre determined color scheme. Once I hone in on the color family and overall feel, it’s time to move on to step 2.


2. Showcase Seasonal Ingredients



You’ll notice a lot of my winter snack boards for events are neon pink! Watermelon radishes come into season, and I take advantage of hearty pink beets! Spring boards tend to have a lot of green, like sweet pea and asparagus, along with fresh lettuces and herbs. On this autumn-inspired boards, seasonal honeynut squashes were the focal point. You see what I’m saying?


3. MIX Raw & Cooked, Savory & Sweet



Clients rave when they’re working their way through a savory corner of a snack board, and then all of a sudden they run into something sweet! This snack board I made recently for a cocktail event at an art gallery is the perfect example of raw & cooked plus savory & sweet. The dips featured roasted cauliflower and roasted artichoke, while the tray was full of a mixture of raw and roasted veg and chicories. Nestled throughout the arrangement were my signature Ginger Turmeric Bliss Bites. The turmeric made them grounded enough to include on the savory tray, but the date base loaned itself to something sweet!


4. Place your Dips First! Then add other elements…



If you’re not sure how to get started in terms of assembly, pick one or two dips, or something like homemade roasted nuts (I like pecans and walnuts roasted in pomegranate molasses and za’atar!) that can be featured in a small bowl. Randomly position these around your tray, and then arrange your various elements around the bowls. In my experience, it is much harder to arrange a food pattern and then try to superimpose bowls and get it to look natural. Bowls first!


5. …Not Garbage



Fennel fronds, leftover basil leaves, the hairlike fronds on top of carrots, …these do not go directly into your compost! Reserve them for the end of your styling process. These all look great hanging casually off the sides of the tray, like a frame for your masterpiece!


What kind of charcuterie spreads do you put out at your gatherings? Do you treat these as a centerpiece, or as an afterthought? I’m here for you any time you want some inspiration for this focal point of your gathering. And don’t forget to ask me about my research re: edible flowers!