Last weekend I decided to invite a few friends over for our first gathering at our new home in Aspen. What originally started as a group of 6 quickly multiplied to over 20 and before I knew it, I was having a legit party. I was a bit stumped as to what I should do, since my original invite was for dinner, it seemed impossible to pull off for such a large group. All catering options were pointing to BBQ, and licking sauce from fingers and packing down mac and cheese was just not the vision I had for the evening. I was trying to brainstorm something that was visually appealing, would leave people feeling satisfied and was somewhat fiscally responsible, and that’s when I came up with the perfect solution. What’s better than walking into a party with a beautiful charcuterie platter? I’ll tell you what’s better, a charcuterie table!
With my mission in mind I decided to turn our mountain rustic dining table into everyone’s meat and cheese dreams. The process to set up the table is easier than you might think, just follow my 10 tips below along with the shopping list and you will be golden.
10 Tips to Create The Perfect Charcuterie Table
1. Dedicate a large, flat surface to your masterpiece. This will usually be the dining table or kitchen counter. Wherever you choose will become the focal point for your gathering, so think this through.
2. Cover the surface where you will be creating your charcuterie table with table paper. The goal will be to cover the paper completely so only cover the area you plan on building out.
3. Keep your display bowls and boards simple, let the food be the color and the table be the primary surface used. For my table I only used one large walnut board, one paddle board and a platter for the salmon, along with a handful of small clear and white bowls for the olives, peppers, and garlic.
4. Do NOT go buy a bunch of cheese knives and items that aren’t practical for your daily life. I used our new spring flatware knives for the cheese and small spoons for the dips and spreads, they also have a rose gold version that is dreamy! These small glass bowls are used in our daily rotation and the large walnut board is our regular cutting board. Only invest in items that deserve space in your cabinets and that you will use regularly.
5. Prep EVERYTHING before you start setting up the actual table. This means clean and cutup all your fruit and vegetables, put all your olives, peppers etc. in small bowls, and open all your meat and cheeses. This will help with your creative flow when you start setting up. The key is to have everything prepped, accessible and ready for your magic.
6. When it’s time to start setting up, turn on some music, remove the kids from the room if possible and pour yourself a glass of wine. If you are making a large table it’s important to get yourself in the right creative headspace. Spiro laughed at me and thought I was ridiculous when I told him that he was messing with my creative energy, UNTIL he saw what I created and then he understood!
7. Layout the boards and dishes you want to use on your table. It’s important if you have salmon or skirt steak in the oven to put the dish it will go on out on the table so it has the perfect place after it comes out of the oven.
8. It’s time to build this beauty! First, place all of your cheeses out throughout the table so they are spaced out accordingly.
9. After your cheese is in place, start in a corner and build your way out and down the table. There’s no right or wrong placement, the only goal is for it to be full and cover the paper as much as possible.
10. Add a sweet unexpected touch to the end of the table, I used chocolate and blueberry yogurt pretzels with Nutella and it was a HUGE HIT!
Now let’s break down the key kitchenware components you’ll need to pull this off!
The Cured Meat Lowdown:
Charcuterie Table Dimensions Pictured: 7 feet x 3 feet
Will Feed Approximately: 35 Adults
Total Spent: $700
Price Per Head: $20.00
It’s no secret that charcuterie is expensive, like OMG! – my heart skips a beat for each price tag that I look at when purchasing the supplies, BUT the truth is when I make it right and it serves as dinner for a large group of people the numbers actually shake out to be justifiable. According to Thumbtack, the average cost of at-home catering buffet style is $25 per person. Entertaining can be costly and believe it or not, this table comes out below the average price!
So the next time you are considering entertaining a large group for a special occasion, holiday, or birthday, don’t get overwhelmed trying to piece together a large menu. Shake things up and go for a charcuterie table. Your guests will leave beyond impressed and most likely with a delicious to-go bag in hand. I actually had someone ask me if I was a chef! LOL! Mission accomplished!