In recent years, grazing charcuterie boards have taken the culinary world by storm, captivating food enthusiasts and social media influencers alike. These beautifully arranged platters have become a focal point of gatherings and a visual feast for the senses. Melanie Willard, an author and speaker by trade, who for years had been creating boards for family and friends, decided in 2023 to use the surge in their popularity, to turn this creative outlet into a business. Willard Creations was born.
The Art of Grazing:
Grazing charcuterie boards embody the art of grazing, a centuries-old tradition that brings people together to share and savor an assortment of flavors, textures, and colors. Unlike traditional plated meals, charcuterie boards encourage a relaxed and interactive dining experience, where individuals can graze, nibble, and sample a diverse range of culinary delights at their own pace. “I am a terrible cook,” says Mel. “However, I am very creative and a blank table or board, are like a blank canvas where I get inspired to create art and beauty. “
Aesthetic Allure of a Charcuterie Board:
One of the primary reasons for the soaring popularity of grazing charcuterie boards is their inherent aesthetic appeal. I mean, just look at the picture above! Doesn’t it make you want to dig in? These boards are meticulously crafted, transforming simple ingredients into visually stunning edible works of art. The combination of vibrant fruits, savory cured meats, aromatic cheeses, and an array local jams, honey and other accoutrements creates an enticing display that is both Instagram-worthy and a feast for the eyes. “For me, it’s about working with what’s in season, and colour combinations,” continues Mel. “It’s about contrasting colours, like having greens, blues and oranges beside each other. Another important factor is having odd numbered cheeses. Like 3 or 5 on a board. It just looks better. One thing I love to add to elevate any board is honeycomb. It is both visually appealing and a great addition to most cheeses.”
Versatility and Customization:
Grazing charcuterie boards offer immense versatility, catering to various dietary preferences and occasions. They can be tailored to accommodate diverse tastes, allowing for endless combinations of flavors and textures. From vegetarian and vegan options to boards that feature specialty cured meats and rare cheeses, there is something to delight every palate. The flexibility of these boards also makes them suitable for any gathering, be it an intimate dinner party, a casual brunch, or even a wedding reception.
“I work very closely with each client to ensure that I deliver a high-quality spread to fit the theme of their event. One that is unforgettable and guarantees to both “wow” and satisfy their guests. A lot of love and time goes into planning and creating these boards. It’s all about the details, and making them feel like their event is unique, special and their guests feel that also,” explains Willard.
In an era where food enthusiasts are increasingly seeking unique and memorable dining experiences, grazing charcuterie boards provide a platform for culinary exploration. They introduce individuals to a wide range of artisanal products, showcasing the craftsmanship and dedication of local producers. Mel explains, “One of my favorite pairings are shaved gruyere, with prosciutto, cracker, and cherry walnut jam. It’s amazing how the flavour of some cheese changes depending on what you marry them with. Some are not even necessarily enjoyable on their own, but once paired with the right combinations, most cheeses turn into a symphony for the tastebuds!” This aspect of discovery appeals to those with an adventurous spirit, as well as individuals who appreciate the stories behind the food they consume.
The rise of social media platforms has played a significant role in propelling the popularity of grazing charcuterie boards where they serve as both an impressive centerpiece and a conversation starter. Sharing pictures and videos of aesthetically pleasing boards has become a trend. And we can see why! Some of the pictures seen on Willard Creations’ Facebook page are simply to die for!