How to Create an Amazing Cheese Platter

Lilith Spencer is a dedicated cheesemonger and first place winner of the 2016 San Francisco Cheesemonger Invitational, an esteemed competition among those in the 'cheese world'.

She is a true artist when it comes to making platters of indescribable beauty. They are both a feast for the palette and the eyes, bursting with sliced, crumbled and cubed artisanal cheeses, the finest charcuterie and accompanied by nuts, fruits, vegetables, olives and condiments, all swirled together in a colorful, textural abstract design almost too gorgeous to eat.

Below are tips from Lilith on how to create a deliciously dazzling cheese platter that are sure to be the 'life of the party'.

Platters created by master cheesemonger Lilith Spencer. Click here for more.

  1. When it comes to picking cheese, trust the experts. A good cheesemonger can help you pick out cheese based on the type of event. When you go shopping, let your local cheese resource know about the people who will attend, what food will follow your cheese course, what wine and other drinks you’ll be serving. This information will assist them in guiding you towards various cheeses that will compliment your event. They can even recommend which cheese is best served crumbed, cubed or sliced.
  2. Fill out your spread with some basic, versatile bites. Nuts, dried fruit, pickles, and olives are super reliable once you’ve picked out a couple of special items to be the stars.
  3. Don't serve cheese straight out of the fridge. Cheese's texture and flavor is best closer to room temperature.  Let your featured cheeses soften for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. While it warms up, time time to prepare all of the accompaniments. Portion out your cheeses, gather all your pairings, and group the items that go together nicely. Fresh fruit or vegetables should be cut already; any small bowls or dishes that you want to use should be filled with jams, nuts or other items. Set your platter in the center of your workspace and surround it with your ready-to-go materials.
  4. Place your biggest items first, then group your pairings. The cheese serves as the anchor ingredient on your platter. Give them plenty of room, spacing them apart from each other. Then, place your accompaniments closest to the cheeses with which they pair best. This indicates that these items are meant to be enjoyed together. The scattering of nuts, olives, and dried fruit makes it clear that those bites will work in any combination.
Excerpts and images from Alex Testere's May 2016 article in Saveur.