It’s 2019, and no party is complete without a meat-and-cheese board. To alleviate all of the preparation involved in crafting these displays, Australian native Liz Sergeant founded The Board Grazer. She wants to teach the community how to “graze” with her.
Upon recognizing the growth in popularity of these food-pairing plates, Sergeant established her own catering company. She now serves the snacking needs of Northeast Florida’s gatherings, parties and events. She also teaches interactive workshops to show grazers-in-training how to prepare their own movable feasts.
“The charcuterie and the cheese board have become trendy and are really having their moment right now. Grazing is another version of that, but with something for everyone, from the picky eater to the adventurous eater,” Sergeant told Folio Weekly. “The response to my grazing workshops has been great so we’ve really kept them rolling.”
Growing up in Australia, Sergeant recalls food being the focal point of many community events and family gatherings. Whenever there were people over at her house, her mother always laid out an assortment of bites to share. In the Australian patois, picking at these platters is known as “grazing,” and the spreads themselves as “grazing tables.”
Transitioning into adulthood, Sergeant began traveling the world before settling down and entering the workforce. During her one of her trips abroad—backpacking in Ecuador, to be specific—she met her future husband. After dating long-distance for a year, he moved Down Under and the couple wed. Then hubby urged Sergeant to relocate to Jacksonville to be closer to his parents (who live in Ponte Vedra).
Once settled in Northeast Florida, and with a newborn son, Sergeant decided to take on a corporate marketing job that involved managing a series of multimillion-dollar brands. Though she enjoyed the work, a burning entrepreneurial spirit led her to leave that position with the hope of someday being her own boss.
This past February, she did just that when she turned an idea into a small business and The Board Grazer was born. Drawing on her Aussie roots, her love of food and her background in marketing, Sergeant fashioned the company in her image.
“It’s really my creative outlet,” Sergeant said.
It’s hard to look at one of Sergeant’s creations and not want to try one—immediately. Offering quality taste and attractive aesthetics, The Board Grazer options include boxes, boards and tables. Each option comprises a variety of fruit, charcuterie, cheeses, crackers, dips, antipasti, sweets and florals. Every creation is unique and based on seasonal availability. Each can be enjoyed as a main meal or as an alternative to hors d’oeuvres.
“Grazing boards are great for a variety of events, even just a night in on the couch. So far I’ve gotten orders for a lot of birthday parties, corporate events, gender reveals, bridal showers and weddings and wedding cocktail hours,” Sergeant explained.
When crafting each spread, Sergeant looks to incorporate whatever components are in season. She also uses as much local produce as possible. Coming into the warmer months, she looks forward to utilizing the summer fruits that she has been denied all winter. The Grazing Board also honors gluten-free requests (there are allegedly great gluten-free crackers options out there), and has vegan, vegetarian and nut-allergy options.
In addition to catering events, Sergeant hosts regular board workshops.
“When I first came up with the business idea for The Board Grazer, I had never thought about doing any type of workshop,” Sergeant said. “That’s something that just kind of happened. The response has been really great, so we kept them hosting them and they have been really light-hearted and fun. I’m open to the idea of hosting a bunch all across Jacksonville. I want to give people in the different areas and neighborhoods a chance to attend.”
Sergeant provides all the necessary ingredients, giving workshop attendees the chance to flex their creative culinary muscles. She also provides the wooden charcuterie board, which her grazers-in-training take home—laden with graze-able goodies—for future use.
“More and more I see people from my workshops tagging me online in their own creations,” Sergeant said. “We plan to keep holding the DIY events as long as people stay willing to come. If any other small businesses are interested in partnering, I’m extremely open to that idea as well.”
So how do you make the perfect grazing board? Sergeant advises to always incorporate a variety of textures in the display.
“One of my suggestions is to make sure that you have at least two different cheeses,” Sergeant confided. “One should be a soft cheese and one should be a hard cheese. My foolproof suggestion for beginners that everyone seems to like, and that no one will have a hard time finishing, is to combine a double-crème Brie and a nice sharp vintage cheddar.”