Let's Eat

Top tips for grazing table greatness this Chanukah

Here's how to make your table shine this year


If you want to add the wow factor to your Chanukah celebrations, you may want to try out the latest trend — grazing tables.

They’re reasonably low effort and will make your food look fabulous. The key to the look is abundance, with food displays that groan with mouth-watering morsels. If you want to dip your toe in the water, you can start with a small display — maybe a cheese board or a platter of teatime treats — before taking the plunge and creating an entire buffet. There are no hard and fast rules for but if you want to have a go yourself, here are my top tips:

Style it out:

To really make an impact, the devil’s in the detail. Plan what you’re going to do in advance. Include a combination of colours, fresh ingredients, and different textures and flavours. For Chanukah throw in some mini dreidels, chocolate coins and perhaps invest in glitzy table cloths and napkins.

Variety is the spice of life:

Offer a broad range of foods. If you do a latke bar, serve them with all sorts of toppings — apple sauce; cream cheese; sour cream; ketchup; mayonnaise; avocado and smoked salmon for example; then add bowls of fresh crunchy veggies and salads plus dips, pickles and chutneys and maybe a cheeseboard with a mix of cheeses decorated with herbs and edible flowers plus chutneys, pickles and crackers.

Perfect your props:

It’s all about display, which can be as simple as laying out the food directly onto the table — perhaps on a long sheet of baking paper. I like to use a mix of serving platters, plates, boards and bowls of different shapes and sizes to present the food at varying heights. No need to be refined or fussy — the aim is bountiful and beautiful. Go rustic with wooden boards or more sophisticated with marble and glass.

Start simple:

Practice the technique on smaller boards rather than a whole table. A range of colourful doughnuts displayed in bowls and baskets with ring doughnuts stacked on pole stands, which can be bought online. Place these on a large board or platter and add different sized bowls of dips like chocolate sauce; caramel sauce and whipped cream plus jars of sprinkles. Fill in the gaps with bunches of grapes, chopped fruit, brightly coloured sweets, chocolate coins and chocolate biscuits.

Size is everything:

The ultimate goal is to be able to eat a little bit of everything. A good rule of thumb is to keep everything to one or two bites maximum. Don’t include food that is too big or messy to eat. Also check that there are sufficient serving utensils for items that are left whole — cheese knives, salad servers etc.

Eat the rainbow:

The more colourful, the better. Vibrant berries and fruits give the table a visual lift; edible flowers add a delicate touch. Go bright with beetroot and houmous dips which really pop. And try not to place foods of similar colours next to each other — you’re looking for contrasts across the table.

Mind the gap:

Don’t leave empty spaces — the surface should be totally covered. It’s fine to repeat food items several times at intervals across the table. Then fill in gaps with greenery, sprigs of herbs, citrus fruit in bowls and foliage. I love to include fresh flowers. Eucalyptus leaves are popular because they’re elegant and smell lovely! Get creative and spread the flowers around the food. Or just include lots of fresh herbs in pots.

Mix and match:

If you’re daunted by creating your display as well as cooking it all, try it out first with some shop-bought snacks alongside your home made treats. Buy your doughnuts and serve them alongside tiny squares of chocolate brownies, mini bowls of dipping sauces, platters of fresh and dried fruits and baskets of bought biscuits.

Find out more about Charlotte Singer's catering here


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