Have you seen those paintings of ancient Romans around food spread on a massive table? And didn’t you wish you could be a part of that decadent feast? Well, now you actually can because something similar is picking up in India—Grazing Tables. “It’s a tweaked, modern version of a buffet but definitely a more decadent alternative. It started in Australia, where it became all the rage in 2019, hitting the Pinterest boards of millennials and young couples who wanted to entertain but with style and less hassle,” shares Preeti Rathod, who’s exploring the concept here with her homegrown company, The Theatric Platter.
With a shift towards intimate gatherings, people want to make an impression on their guests but don’t want to stress about prepping the food. That’s where grazing tables come into the picture. It consists of finger food, and it’s the perfect way to get your guest to mingle over drinks. In a chat with ELLE, Preeti tells us all about the rising food trend and how you can set up a plate right at home.
ELLE: What inspired you to start The Theatric Platter?
Preeti Rathod: Definitely the love for hosting people and homegrown food. We all love to make a statement, but by the end of the party, I actually never had fun. In fact, I was tired plus there was so much stress before the party. Also, one can’t forget the amount of food which got wasted. So putting together a spread that is filling yet so beautiful pulled me towards grazing tables.
ELLE: What food items can be included in Grazing Tables? Is it theme-based?
PR: The table has an artfully laid-out spread of different fresh food like fruits, cheese, nuts, crudites (sliced or whole raw veggies typically dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauce), nuts, and dips, even charcuterie. But there are no rules. One can also add bite-size food like mini burgers and shot glass teriyaki. The theme depends on what one personally wants.
ELLE: Getting the aesthetic right can be quite challenging, especially when it’s a large spread. How do you go about planning and executing it?
PR: The key is to make everything work together. We design our tables prior to the event, depending on the theme. If it’s a tropical-themed grazing table, we work more with banana leaves, coconut, or summer fruits to get the look, but one has to make sure it all works together and doesn’t overpower other ingredients. We always start with cheese-and-dip placements plus height and food for texture. But honestly, we go with the flow.
ELLE: Can you give our readers a basic guide to go about setting up a table at home for an intimate gathering?
PR: If it is a centre-long grazing table, one can do it with parchment paper. Add bowls of different sizes and heights to add texture. In terms of food, make sure you take bright coloured seasonal fruits, which looks fresh and not dull. Choose two-three varieties of cheese, something that’s soft and spreadable and neatly cut into bite-sized portions, so one is not struggling to dig into a piece. Keep one flavour mild and the other flavour bold, so it stands out on its own.
Serve with flavoured crackers. Add crudites and fruits to nibble. One can also add carrots, broccoli and snow peas… the options are endless. Ensure they are cut and washed well, and keep them in water so the taste is still juicy before you serve your guest. No one likes to bite on a dried-up carrot. They should be arranged colour-wise.
ELLE: Tell us about your future plans and how you wish to grow The Theatric Platter.
PR: We are currently in Delhi and Mumbai, so we want to expand to other cities. We are a plastic-free company when it comes to packaging, but we are working on being 100% plastic-free even when sourcing our produce by the end of this year.
Photographs: The Theatric Platter, Unsplash