grazing table ideas

Sep 22, 2020

Last year I worked with Cassie and the team at Firecracker event (also here on my list of incredible Melbourne caterers), who had created the most majestic grazing table i’ve seen anywhere, let alone in Melbourne, for Liv and Dave’s engagement party in an iconic Melbourne art gallery. The result looked like something of a collaboration between the lush perfection of Annie Leibovitz and impossible symmetry and theatre of Wes Anderson, so I had to ask her how her brain works, how we can capture a slice of it for ourselves, and what genius ideas she has for creating your own grazing table or spread, especially as Covid-19 has cast some uncertainty over what they will even look like in the short to mid-term: how do we create a Covid Friendly Grazing Table?

best grazing table ideas firecracker event


To that end, Cassie has been generous in sharing some of her own feelings about what solutions there might be and what questions to ask when navigating the scenario of sharing food communally.

Firecracker event’s slogan is “to nourish, connect, and create” and it’s such a treat to have a chat with someone that has their hands plenty full servicing all three of those across a catering business and a venue, both of which have had to be elastic and forward-thinking during covid19 (when for a little while, maybe the only thing on the table is an elopement).

Who are you, whats your background and journey been like to lead you to where you are: a culinary powerhouse with a cheeky venue on the side?

My name is Cassie Lucas and I am the owner and creative director of Firecracker Event. The journey to get where I am today is a long story with a meandering path but in a nutshell it goes like this; born into a loving and affectionate social-foodie family with roots in hospitality, a childhood of caring and nurturing (both receiving and giving) followed by a degree and career in landscape architecture with time spent here and abroad all culminated in me starting Firecracker Event in 2012 and officially launching it as my full-time gig in September 2013. 

Our big studio, that we call HQ (stands for heart-quarters as much as head-quarters) is used for all of our event preparation and photoshoots.

During covid HQ has been home to Pick Me Up, our take home meal service and has also become a temporary home for an ice cream van which is fun!

Whats the most rewarding element of what you do? 

That’s easy. Seeing people experience and be nourished by the food and atmosphere we create. 

Especially relevant now – what motivates you to do what you do, and how has this been challenged lately?

best grazing table ideas firecracker event

Our motivation has always been to make people feel loved and seen. That hasn’t changed during this time, in fact it’s been more important than ever. Many people feel isolated and unsettled by uncertainty and rapid change.

We do too!

When the pandemic hit my first instinct was ok, how can we pivot and continue to nourish our community while we can’t be together physically? From that place we launched PICK ME UP, which is a take-home meals collaboration with seven other local, small businesses who we love.

It started out as a gift we could give to our community and quickly became a gift we received as so many people showed up to support us and allowed us to safely stay connected and nourished by one another.

This helped keep our business going and has given us all a sense of purpose which has been invaluable for our mental wellbeing. It’s been a beautiful and reciprocal exchange. 

Let’s talk about that majestic spread you made for Liv and Dave. Sometimes there’s a beautiful intersection of space, style and food-design, and for me this was one of those really rare intersections. It looked so impossibly considered and it’s the only food item I’ve ever stood in front of and thought “I think we need Annie Leibovitz in to cover this”. Can you run me through how the idea came about, how much of yourselves and the couple was in it?

best grazing table ideas firecracker event

You’re so right! It was such a beautiful intersection. This will be a forever favourite for sure. Liv and Dave know the owner of the antique gallery and when we went for a site inspection, I was blown away by the visual feast around each corner of the gallery. 

best grazing table ideas firecracker event

One of the many things I’ve carried with me from Landscape Architecture is allowing the site to speak and designing with site specificity. This keeps every day really exciting for us because it means that every grazing table is unique. It also means that when we are in a space like Graeme Geddes Gallery – it’s about sourcing props and produce that will work with the space. Not take away or dominate it.

This grazing table had some gorgeous smaller moments you experience when you’re up close (like cutting a piece of cheese)  but then also for the overall wow- expansive view. You managed to capture that so beautifully. 

If you could in general describe the expression on peoples faces when they saw the spread, what 80s song would be the soundtrack to that expression? Im thinking wind-in-face, slow motion white snake, Michael bolton, over to you….

Haha! Love this. Really made me think though!

Not Michael Bolton, I think it needs more drama/ energy than that! 

I have transported myself to the nights at Cherry Bar in ACDC lane in Melbourne circa 2003 to answer this question. I think it’s more 80’s glam metal, OTT outfits, hair, sets, personalities and expressions!! 

Perhaps Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard or Panama by Van Halen. 

What is your usual process for creating the perfect spread for one of your couples, and how do you craft it to their personality, as well as infuse yourself in it?

I like to talk to our clients about what they love to eat, how they dine at home and what family rituals they have. We always do our best to make it feel like it’s their table.

Our use of certain props, like acrylic blocks for height, has really become a signature of Firecracker so there’s always signs of us in our work, that’s what people hire us for!

Have you ever had any interesting, left of centre spread requests that you can divulge without risking a call from ASIO et-al?

We had a client that wanted us to make grazing tables for 3000 people in a car park. I was so pumped about the potential but it didn’t go ahead in the end. 

What are some common mistakes you see made by folks creating a spread, and what is in your opinion the most underrated inclusion?

 Filling the entire table, edge to edge doesn’t allow the produce to shine. It’s like everything is competing for attention and if there’s one thing I know about Delice, it does not need to compete on a table.

This can also be confronting and confusing for guests as they don’t know what to pick and feel intimidated to touch anything in feat of ‘ruining’ the table. What I would say is, do not be afraid of space. If you have some ‘air’ or ‘zones’ for the hero products it becomes more accessible for guests. 

The most underrated inclusion is grapes. The way they fall does so much for how your eye moves across a table. We get a bit sad when they are out of season! 

What would be your dream scenario to create an incredible spread in or on? Excluding one full of gobstoppers and industrial strength-toffee on the current whitehouse desk, because, you know, the ASIO thing, I guess.

I would love to create a grazing table on the highline in New York. It’s a public garden that’s been built on an old lightrail train line. I can imagine where parts of the table are wildflowers and then produce so when you look at it, it forms a part of the landscape.

I would also love to make a gallery sized exhibition of grazing. On plinths, with color, lots of height changes. Dramatic lighting. Lots of smaller moments or rooms of grazing. And Lazy Susans. And I’ve been getting into monochrome grazing tables over the last 12 months. 

Can someone help make this happen?! 

With all the isolation, how can folks at home think about creating the perfect grazing table or spreads for small gatherings?

As with all foods, buy the best that you can.

A small piece of something outrageous is better than a slab of an unripe brie. 

What are your general top tips for making the perfect “scream from the mountain tops” grazing table or spread?

The same principles work for a grazing table for 100 as they do for 2 people.

This is the landscape architecture practice of scale. 

My three tips for creating the best grazing table or spread are:

  1. Buy odd numbers of cheese: ie three, five, or just one delicious morsel.
  2. Build the board – and use a hierarchy – (start with what’s most important or what you want to have more air time. Cheese, obvs). Arrange items in a zigzag on the board – start with cheese, then fruit, then meat/and antipasto, dried fruit, nuts then biscuits last. 
  3. Create sweet and savory sections. ie blue and soft cheese with grapes, nuts and fruit, and antipasto/charcuterie with harder cheeses. 

This isn’t a question but I think it’s worth acknowledging the death of grazing tables. 

How will people experience grazing tables in the new COVID normal?

Are guests going to want to share food? 

To cut cheese with the same knife as another person? 

To be in close proximity to another person discussing what looks good on the table? 

Will tables just be for looking but not for touching? 

We’ve been thinking a lot about what this looks like and how will we facilitate that same 1980’s WOW expression? 

We are thinking that it will be more individual serves. But you know, maybe it’s bigger/longer tables with social distancing and that could be really interesting for how we arrange and curate the produce. 

We are workshopping some samples. Stay tuned! 

But I think that this makes this particular grazing table even more special because who knows if we will be able to create something like this (to be enjoyed and eaten) again. 

Hire Firecracker Event for your Covid Friendly Grazing Table

https://www.firecrackerevent.com/
https://www.instagram.com/firecrackerevent
87-88 South Cres, Northcote VIC 3070

If you like this glorious space, you might also like Quat Quatta

best Melbourne wedding caterers

Jun 10, 2020

Melbourne is known for its eccentric and eclectic foodie scene. Of all the Aussie states, its probably the most innovative and experimental when it comes to its hospitality industry. Bacon gelato? Yup. Lamington Jafles. Um, hells yeah. You name it, Melbourne is comfortable going gourmet, or going gonzo. In the spirit of amazing, innovative wedding catering, I’ve created a rundown of the best wedding caterers Melbourne has to offer. Grab a knife and fork and settle in. Let’s do this.

Melbournes top wedding caterers 2020

  1. Firecracker Event
  2. Fat and Skinny Catering
  3. Torte by Mirjana
  4. Miss Ladybird Cakes
  5. Food and Desire

1. Melbourne Wedding Caterer: Firecracker Event

Much like an actual firecracker, the spreads created by this awesome team absolutely GO OFF! Firecracker Event are pretty much a turnkey operator for all your event needs. They combine styling, service and, of course, food to turn your event into a guaranteed winner. Be sure to check out this feature on Firecracker Event where they chat all things grazing tables)

Firecracker is built on the concept of Enlightened Hospitality—a term coined by New York restaurateur Danny Meyer. It means that every person you engage feels safe, welcome and at home with you. It’s about going the extra mile and prioritizing relationships over transactions.

– Firecracker Event
Here’s a little clip of Danny Meyer explaining the foundation behind the Enlightened Hospitality principal.

Firecracker Event can cover everything from platters to full service dining. Some of the glorious foods included in their packages are:

  • Porcini & Truffle Arancini (GF. V)
  • Lemon Curd Tarts With Fresh Raspberries
  • Heidi Farm Gruyere
  • Organic Dried Fruit & Nuts
  • Vegan Gnocchi With Green Pesto & Seasonal Greens
  • Slow Cooked Pork Belly With Chargrilled Orange & Fennel

Does that not sound entirely, mouthwateringly delicious to you? It’s a big fat ooft here from me.

Find Firecracker Event online

Firecracker Event website: https://www.firecrackerevent.com/

2. Melbourne Wedding Caterer: Fat and Skinny Catering

The bloody wonderful ladies at Fat and Skinny catering are a team of hardworking, hospitality driven human beings who love a good laugh. They’re all for a song and a dance and they can always be counted on to match (if not exceed) the excitement you have about your event, and are some of the best caterers Melbourne has at hand.

They’re fun, they’re friendly and they’re focused on giving you the best food they can possibly muster. I’ve personally seen their head honcho, Naomi, go to excruciatingly loving means to make a surprise dish for a bride that used a unique ingredient that her late father used to produce. Absolutely magic stuff to see.

“Come for the love. Stay for the party.”

– Fat and Skinny Catering

The sheer range of foods available at Fat and Skinny Catering make them one of the best wedding caterers Melbourne has to offer. It’s just a bonus that every single dish they serve up is *chef’s kiss* noice.

Their wedding catering range includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Chicken Char Siu Dumplings with Black Vinegar & Caramel Dipping Sauce
  • Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken, Creamy Mash and Roast Chicken Gravy (vo, gf
  • Oregano, Feta & Lamb Burger with Greek Salad and Minty Tzatziki
  • Beef Brisket Slow Cooked for 10 hours with Roasted Parmesan Crumble
  • Roasted Beetroot, Rocket & Dukkah Crusted Labne (v,gf)
  • Nutella and Hazelnut Crunch Cheesecake

Lordy! I simply cannot.

Find Fat and Skinny Catering online

Fat and Skinny Catering website: https://www.fatandskinny.com.au/

3. Melbourne Wedding Cake Maker: Torte by Mirjana

If you want the best wedding cake Melbourne has to offer, this taste-queen is coming at you with some of the best wedding cakes this side of the northernmost tip of the north pole. The finesse and artistry that goes into each and every cake Mirjana creates is out of this world. It seems obvious that wedding cakes should taste great, but Mirjana is time and again the benchmark for giving the same amount of love to their interior as their exterior.

With a Croatian and Serbian heritage, she grew up watching her Baka (grandmother) work as cake decorator and the apple does not fall far from the generational tree.

She’s also a designer by trade which really shows in her delectable dessert creations.

Check out the cake design gallery on her website and you’ll see why she has sealed her place as one of Melbourne’s best wedding cake makers.

To find out a little more about the maestro herself, check out the feature on Torte by Mirjana.

Find Torte by Mirjana online

Torte by Mirjana website: https://www.tortebymirjana.com/

4. Melbourne Wedding Cake Maker: Miss Ladybird Cakes

Another crafty wedding cake maker, Miss Ladybird Cakes is here to kick ass and bake cakes, and she’s all out of asses to kick. Gina makes the best wedding cakes in Melbourne.

Having been in the business for 12+ years Gina, Miss Ladybird herself, is the creative mind behind this amazing cake baking venture, and it’s no small feat being around for that amount of time – which translates to a hell of a lot of happy faces catered for at weddings. She’s always been super creative and is actually a qualified chef.

Miss Ladybird has brought two of her greatest passions together, food and design, to build a beaut business and we get to reap the benefits.

“Our main aim is not to be the best, but to make a product we are proud of, and one which interprets the love we have for an industry we have spent our lives immersed in.”

– Miss Ladybird Cakes

Check out her online gallery here.

Find Miss Ladybird Cakes online

Miss Ladybird Cakes website: http://www.missladybirdcakes.com/

5. Melbourne Wedding Caterer: Food And Desire

Now, last but 1000% not least, we’ve got Food And Desire who fully customise the menus for every single event they cater. Like, who has the time or the energy to do that? These maestros are insane.

Their food is sourced from local suppliers and they incorporate only the best seasonal produce into their bespoke menus.“Collaborating with some of Melbourne’s most influential event experts, producers and suppliers, we cater different. We do it awesome, and we love it.”

You can see the kind of menus they’ve created for wedding parties up in lights on their website. Food and desire also helm the inimitable Melbourne Warehouse Wedding venue Half Acre, featured in image below.

Find Food And Desire online

Fourside Events website: http://www.foodanddesire.com.au/

Check out my top 15 Melbourne wedding photo locations for some nuptialistic (is that a word?) inspo.

Nab one of the incredible caterers up above (unless you’re at Zonzo Estate and enjoying their wizard pizza makers onsite), and link them up with this incredible Melbourne wedding planner.

Also for some incredible catering outside of Melbourne, check out the wood fired wedding pizzas at the Cosmo Hotel near Castlemaine.

This might be,
the start of,
something