Meat Your Match, Charcuterie Board Styling & Photography

I had the opportunity to fly out to San Francisco to visit Pinterest headquarters last month and teach a class on charcuterie board styling titled Meat Your Match. Talk about a freaking dream!

It’s been pretty busy since, but last week, I finally had the chance to recreate my class, photograph it with Amy and eat this tasty lunch at home with the crew. You see, while I was teaching in San Francisco, it was difficult for me to really capture everything, but it was important to me that I share it with you guys. So here it is! Learn how to style the perfect charcuterie board. And, make sure to scroll through to catch a few photos from the actual class!

Charcuterie boards are my favorite snack when I’m hosting, when I’m not feeling like making a full meal for James or when I’m hanging out solo while James is out doing comedy and David is asleep for the night (read basically any and all times). All that’s truly required to make the perfect charcuterie board is to have the necessary ingredients, be willing to slice and prep what you need to and throw it all together on a board or plate and make it look somewhat presentable. I find that it’s the easiest, most crowd pleasing appetizer and hello, it’s tasty.

Rather than get too caught up in how it’s supposed to look, I encouraged my students to get creative and put something together that wasn’t just visually stimulating, but incorporated all the elements they would want in their personal charcuterie board. I choose to teach a class in the food realm not because I’m the best chef or recipe stylist, but because the best conversations, the most creative ideas and the majority of my realizations about life have come together over a good meal or beverage with people I admire.

Here are the five bullet points I want you guys to think about when you’re styling and photographing your next charcuterie board.

1. Consider any and all diet restrictions. When you’re hosting for a large group it can be really difficult to create a snack that appeals to everyone. This is where a charcuterie board can really be your life line. Regardless of having vegetarians, vegans, those who are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free or any other diet you can think of over, you can always serve something on your charcuterie board that’s within their wheel house.

2. Color is your friend. Getting a good mix of color is truly where the visual element of your board is going to come to life. You can do this not only with your ingredients, but by implementing a number of different styling pieces like this beautiful handmade cutting board from Erbe Workshop, colorful plates, small bowls, tea towels or napkins and utensils.

3. Play with placement. I personally love a messier charcuterie board, but what’s fun about this is that it’s completely up to you. You can choose to mix your ingredients like this or you can keep it super intentional like this or you can find some sort of combination of the two. There’s no right or wrong here!

4. Ingredients are interchangeable. There are a million and one how to’s on balancing a charcuterie board like this, but I like to keep it a little more simple and realistic. I always like to have at least one meat, one cheese, bread or a cracker, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, a veggie and some sort of spread. Obviously I stretched above this base here, but here’s my exact grocery list (I picked most things up from Trader Joes) if you’re trying to recreate this spread! What’s great about a lot of these ingredients is once you purchase them they will generally last you for awhile and you’ll just need to pick up the fresh ones.

  • Salami
  • Proscuitto
  • Cheddar
  • Bre
  • Manchego
  • Blue Cheese
  • Everything Seasoned Crackers
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Grapefruit
  • Green Apples
  • Dried Apricots
  • Pistachios
  • Candied Ginger
  • Honey

5. Don’t overthink your photos. I love food photography, but I hate being the person that’s hovering over their uneaten meal for ten plus minutes trying to get the perfect shot. The simple advice I gave my students if you’re wanting to snap a photo of your charcuterie board is to turn all the lights off, find a window and photograph your board in only natural light before your guests arrive. If you’re trying to capture an overhead shot make sure you keep your phone perfectly level (you can always adjust this in VSCO by messing with the X & Y axis), and when you’re editing and applying filters, pay attention to how your colors may change. Certain filters can really remove the vibrance of your colors and make your food look unappetizing. Experiment with your angles and have fun with it!