A local deli owner who makes ‘hundreds’ of decadent grazing platters a month has revealed the must-have ingredients on any share plate, including cheese, dried fruit and nuts, and how to make them at home.
Christopher McQueen is the co-owner of Rocco’s Delicatessen in Yarraville, Victoria, which specialises in Italian-inspired sandwiches, cured meats and dairy products.
The store has been in operation since 1977 but only in the last two years has Mr McQueen really turned his focus to event catering.
‘Our grazing boards are made in our deli fresh on the day of our customers event. We wrap them up and they get picked up,’ he told FEMAIL.
Rocco’s Delicatessen in Yarraville, Victoria, specialises in Italian-inspired sandwiches, cured meats and dairy products. This one serves 20 people and costs $310 to buy
Rocco’s Deli co-owner Christopher McQueen
‘We also do onsite grazing tables for events. We make these up at the location.’
Nadia Bartel and the star of Channel 7’s Yummy Mummies, Rachel Watts, have both commissioned Mr McQueen’s supreme platter services for their sons’ birthdays.
A customer need only tell Rocco’s how many guests will be attending their soiree and he will assemble the platter based on their likes and dislikes at a rate of $15.50 per person.
So for 20 guests the amount would total $310 and for 30 people it would be $465.
Mr McQueen is a big fan of mixing different colours and shapes on his renowned grazing boards
A customer need only tell Rocco’s how many guests will be attending their soiree and he will assemble the platter based on their likes and dislikes at a rate of $15.50 per person (Nadia Bartel, left, and Rachel Watts, right)
‘Our grazing boards are made up of all things delicatessen. We have a whole shop of goodies we get to choose from,’ he said.
‘Usually there’s a great variety of cured meats like salami, prosciutto, mortadella, ham and pancetta.’
He will also add soft cheese, triple cream, blue cheeses, asiago, goats cheese, olives, sun dried tomatoes, grilled capsicum, bell peppers, dried fruits, seasonal fruits and dips.
Mr McQueen believes it’s important to update the products you’re using constantly so that the platters are always interesting and fresh.
‘Cheeses and fruits are our favourite to work with,’ he said.
Mr McQueen believes it’s important to update the products you’re using constantly so that the platters are always interesting and fresh
How to make the perfect grazing platter at home this Christmas:
Rocco’s Deli grazing platter
* Keep dry ingredients separate from wet ingredients to avoid sogginess
* Take things out of the packaging for aesthetic appeal
* Focus your platter around cheese, the most important ingredient – and build from there
* Remember garnishes
* Shop around. Supermarkets, local delis, farmers’ markets and corner shops can all be good
* Edible flowers can look pretty and add a decorative edges
‘Fresh raspberries and figs paired with triple cream cheeses are one of the best flavour combinations. Through a process of trial and error we are always looking for new pairs to put together.’
Pecans will typically pair well with the saltiness of most cheese while walnuts work best with cheddars.
Dairy tends to be most complimentary surrounded by apples, pears and citrus fruits.
‘A platter should take you on a journey, having the very best products from all corners of the world is always a nice way to experience a grazing board,’ Mr McQueen said.
Pecans will typically pair well with the saltiness of most cheese while walnuts work best with cheddars
‘And the story behind the product is always of interest to our clients. Where was the cheese made, what milks do they use? Is it aged ? People today want to understand more about what they are eating.’
Variety is key for those looking to replicate Rocco’s creations at home this Christmas, with Mr McQueen recommending four or five smaller portions of cheese be included over two large slices.
His ‘go-to’ fruits for a charcuterie board are grapes, pears and strawberries to give a welcome crunch and burst of sweetness.
They’re also good for filling up any gaps that might be left on the board once the meats and cheeses are arranged.