The Spread: Amazing Grazing
A Jacksonville company proves more is more, creating charcuterie boards that might redefine your next dinner party
At first glance, one of Liz Sergeant’s creations almost looks too good to eat: a board covered with dried apricots, cheese wedges, chocolate-covered pretzels, honeycomb, savory dips, blanched almonds, slices of kiwi, fresh herbs and more, all arranged in a gorgeous, eye-popping pattern.
Sergeant’s ornate food spreads are inspired by the idea of grazing. Popular in Europe and Sergeant’s home country of Australia, grazing taps into a way of eating that doesn’t revolve around one main sit-down meal. Instead, the practice is a way to lazily lounge over a varied collection of nibbles that appeals to all your senses. “Grazing is so much more than cheese and meats,” Sergeant says. “There’s literally something for everybody, from the picky eater to the carnivore.”
Sergeant, who lives in Jacksonville with her husband and 4-year-old son, started The Board Grazer at the end of 2018 after trying the stay-at-home mom thing for a few years and realizing she was “craving that entrepreneurial spirit.” Before that, she worked in marketing, a skill set that has come in handy as a new business owner.
She comes from a foodie family, so running a food business seemed like a natural path. “My mother would always put out these big, elaborate spreads,” she says.
After spending six months in Barcelona with her family, Sergeant was sold on the idea of grazing. “Over there, we’d go to the market and get our paper-wrapped cheese and salami and tomato and just eat until we were sufficiently full, rather than have one big meal,” she says.
The boards and boxes available through The Board Grazer (theboardgrazer.com) are unique creations, each one a different assemblage of, well, a little bit of everything. They vary based on seasonality and availability, or the customer’s preference, and range from $90 to $330.
And they’re not quite like the cheese and charcuterie boards trending in restaurants for the past couple of years. Unlike small appetizer boards served in restaurants, Sergeant’s showstopping spreads, packed with all manner of savory and sweet items, can take up the entire length of your table.
In less than a year, she has gone from making small boards for her friends to preparing orders for birthday parties and baby showers, corporate events and weddings.
In addition to providing an alternative way of noshing, Sergeant says the boards make for great icebreakers, helping to foster more of a social interaction around food. “When I entertain, I always get stuck in the kitchen,” she says. “And these grazing boards are great because you can put out a nice, beautiful spread and you don’t even have to turn on the oven or turn on the grill.” theboardgrazer.com