How to Build the Ultimate Cheeseboard, According to Lia Townsend

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend, shares her tips for building the perfect cheeseboard.

Whether you are entertaining for a dinner party or having a few friends over in the afternoon, a table laden with thoughtful edibles is sure to delight. It is a wonderful way to make guests feel instantly welcome and quickly fill hungry tummies right from the get-go.

The best bit is that it's probably the most relaxing way to entertain. There's no cooking involved at all, and you can have it fully prepared before your guests arrive.

That said, there is a trick to building the ultimate cheeseboard. Give your guests a moment of discovery by sourcing your cheeses, dips, and crackers from artisan makers. Plus, don't forget finishing touches like fruit and nuts to really round it out. Below, find my best tips for putting together a grazing table that will truly impress your guests.

Before you start

Select a colour palette and tie all the elements back to this. Seek inspiration for your colour palette from a beautiful ingredient that is in season, florals, or the table linen you would like to use.

For this graze, I was inspired by the beautiful black grapes with green leaves picked fresh by my Dad from his cousin’s farm.

Choosing your ingredients

Shopping for fun, flavourful treats is part of the fun of a creating a cheeseboard.

Try to have something from each of these categories in every graze; Salty, Sweet, Creamy, and Crunchy.

Also, keep in mind your chosen colour palette as above. I selected edibles in tones of white/beige, green and black.

Below is a general guideline for ingredients, but you can get as creative as you like.

  • 3 types of cheese – soft cheese, hard cheese, and a surprise cheese. (I call this a surprise cheese because it is where you can surprise and delight your guests with something unique, seasonal, or interesting. I opted for Le Dauphin Petit Double Crème, Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar and Holy Goat Skyla here.)

  • Dried fruit

  • Fresh fruit

  • Crackers

  • Dips

Building your cheeseboard

Arrange the table linen, boards and bowls in the location of the graze. Create different heights by placing boards on top of upside bowls or cans for an elevated and impactful set up. Be mindful to make sure they are stable as guests will be cutting cheese on it.

Place the hero ingredients on the boards. This is typically your cheeses and any larger items (it was cheese and grapes in this graze). When placing the cheese on the board the 'nose' (which is the point of the wedge) should face towards the edge of the board. This makes it easier for your guests to cut the cheese.

Layer the crackers and add the accompaniments. This is where you can have fun with flavour combinations. Keep in mind the interesting contrast of flavours you can create between Salt/Sweet and Creamy/Crunchy.

Add your finishing touches, like flowers and servingware, and enjoy with your guests.

Shop Lia's look with our Olive tablecloth and Sage napkins.

For more from Lia, follow her at @stories_to_gather

Hungry for more? Explore more recipes from our favourite home cooks here.

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