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The Blonde Butler reveals secrets to the perfect platter

After working in marketing and advertising for five years, Sydney-based entrepreneur, Alex Cadger, decided to follow his passion and start catering business, The Blonde Butler. 

Two years in, and the 27-year-old has wowed thousands with his spectacular spreads and boasts celebrity clients including PR maven Roxy Jacenko and make up guru Napoleon Perdis. 

Here, the platter king has spoken to FEMAIL about his eye-popping creations and the secrets to the perfect platter. 

‘Although my background is in marketing and advertising I have always been a keen cook and keen on food styling so I started up The Blonde Butler two years ago and it just took off,’ Alex, whose platters average $250, said. 

After working in marketing and advertising for five years, Sydney-based entrepreneur, Alex Cadger, decided to follow his passion and start catering business, The Blonde Butler

Two years in, and the 27-year-old has wowed thousands with his spectacular spreads and boasts celebrity clients including PR maven Roxy Jacenko (pictured is her birthday spread)

Two years in, and the 27-year-old has wowed thousands with his spectacular spreads and boasts celebrity clients including PR maven Roxy Jacenko (pictured is her birthday spread)

Here, Alex (pictured) has spoken to FEMAIL about his eye-popping creations and the secrets to the perfect platter

Here, Alex (pictured) has spoken to FEMAIL about his eye-popping creations and the secrets to the perfect platter

‘I had done a few hospitality courses when I was younger and have always been a good cook so I figured I would combine my passion with my talents and that was that.  

‘It started off with platters and evolved into events and catering across Sydney. It took a year for me to get into the groove and ever since I haven’t come up for air. 

‘We have some great celebrity clients like Roxy Jacenko and Napoleon which has helped but it’s also the styling of the food that really makes us stand out – the Instagram-worthy platters.’ 

Alex, who describes his platter style as ‘messy opulence’ and ‘over the top but with a bit of structure’ says the perfect platter is one that ‘looks over the top’ while remaining ‘stylish’ and ‘structured’. 

'We have some great celebrity clients like Roxy Jacenko and Napoleon which has helped but it's also the styling of the food that really makes us stand out,' Alex said 

‘We have some great celebrity clients like Roxy Jacenko and Napoleon which has helped but it’s also the styling of the food that really makes us stand out,’ Alex said 

'I am also a big over-caterer and make sure there's tonnes and tonnes of food and I only use the best stuff,' Alex said

‘I am also a big over-caterer and make sure there’s tonnes and tonnes of food and I only use the best stuff,’ Alex said

What you need for the perfect cheese platter  

* Soft (Brie or Camembert) 

* Semi-Soft (Gouda or Jarlsberg)

*  Hard (Aged Cheddar) 

* Sharp (Stilton or Roquefort) 

* Crackers (Lavosh & Grissini)

* Fresh & Dried Fruit

* Dip or Fruit Paste (Quince or Chutney) 

* Something Salty (Salted Nuts) 

* The Blonde Butler Touch (Dark Sea Salt Chocolate)

‘I am also a big over-caterer and make sure there’s tonnes and tonnes of food and I only use the best stuff,’ Alex said. 

‘I would never use cabanossi and you will never see Jatz crackers on my board. I only use beautiful French cheeses and good quality cured meats,’ Alex said. 

‘It comes down to good produce and lots of it as well as the little things like beautiful roses and theming the platters for specific events.

‘For example with Napoleon’s platter he is all about yellows and golds and wanted a platter for a high tea style morning tea meeting so I used these beautiful yellow roses on there as well as little scones and sandwiches with the cheeses.’ 

When it comes to putting it together, Alex puts all the cheeses down first before squeezing in lavosh crackers and filling spaces with beautiful fresh and dried fruits, salted caramel Lindt chocolate and nuts. 

'With Napoleon's platter he is all about yellows and golds and wanted a platter for a high tea style morning tea meeting so I used these beautiful yellow roses on there as well as little scones and sandwiches,' Alex said

‘With Napoleon’s platter he is all about yellows and golds and wanted a platter for a high tea style morning tea meeting so I used these beautiful yellow roses on there as well as little scones and sandwiches,’ Alex said

'I love grapes for the fruit but I always use figs, dried apricots, dried pears and dried peaches as well,' he said

‘I love grapes for the fruit but I always use figs, dried apricots, dried pears and dried peaches as well,’ he said

‘I love grapes for the fruit but I always use figs, dried apricots, dried pears and dried peaches as well,’ he said. 

‘I also love Spanish quince paste, I think it’s the best of the quinces.’

Alex is also careful to change up the cheeses and is a fan of black truffle cheese from Italy and French cheeses. 

‘It makes a big difference – it’s perfectly okay to be a cheese snob,’ he said. 

'I also avoid side tracking so if I am making a cheese board, that's what I am making. I don't add olives and cured meats I keep it as a cheese board,' Alex said (pictured are examples)

‘I also avoid side tracking so if I am making a cheese board, that’s what I am making. I don’t add olives and cured meats I keep it as a cheese board,’ Alex said (pictured are examples)

When it comes to the biggest mistakes people make, Alex says adding cabanossi and off-the-shelf supermarket items that anyone can see are big no-nos. 

‘It takes away from that elite look,’ he said. 

‘I also avoid side tracking so if I am making a cheese board, that’s what I am making. I don’t add olives and cured meats I keep it as a cheese board. 

‘I see people going mental with their boards and sometimes it’s like a six course meal on a board – just focus on what you are doing and do it well.’ 

Alex also urges people to avoid leaving space on the boards and using too much colour. 

Alex is also careful to change up the cheeses and is a fan of black truffle cheese from Italy and French cheeses

Alex is also careful to change up the cheeses and is a fan of black truffle cheese from Italy and French cheeses

Top tips for platter creation 

* Pick a platter that is plain enough to let the cheese shine. Steer clear of bright colours, patterns or plastic and go for wood or marble. 

* I recommend investing in a decent set of cheese knives, they make a huge difference!

* To construct, place your cheeses onto the board with equal space between them.

* Add your crackers (lavosh) to the board, and if you’re going to use grissini as well, place them in a jar or glass. 

* Place big bunches of grapes in the empty areas on the board (make sure they’re generous bunches) and then add your quince, pate (if you like it), fruit, nuts, and chocolate.

* Make sure you’ve got a good balance of colour across the board, and if there are any bland areas, hit it with some strawberries or blueberries.

* Less is not more and instead of buying 10 things, buy three and lots of them.

Favourite pairings: My favourite Champagne pairings would be Ruinart blanc de blanc or Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé

Alex regular caters high profile events as well as creating the boards 

Alex regular caters high profile events as well as creating the boards 

‘You don’t need heaps and heaps of colours or that really intense “colours of the rainbow” look,’ Alex said. 

‘Deep dark tones are my favourite so I love using strawberries, cherries and red grapes for that elegant look and for cured meats maybe some reds and greens with herbs and tomatoes.

‘It looks exquisite, those earthy tones are much better.’ 

Alex also advises people to never place dips on boards in their packaging, invest in high quality cheese knives and nice bowls and use a beautiful wooden or marble board – no plastic. 

Alex also puts together mouthwatering dessert boards 

Alex also puts together mouthwatering dessert boards 

'Deep dark tones are my favourite so I love using strawberries, cherries and red grapes for that elegant look and for cured meats maybe some reds and greens with herbs and tomatoes,' he said

‘Deep dark tones are my favourite so I love using strawberries, cherries and red grapes for that elegant look and for cured meats maybe some reds and greens with herbs and tomatoes,’ he said

Biggest mistakes you can make

* Side tracking from a cheese board and adding meats and olives 

* Going to heavy on the rainbow look instead of focusing on a theme 

* Leaving dips in packaging 

* Using cheap, supermarket crackers

* Using poor quality, cheap cheeses 

* Using a plastic, colourful board 

While Alex is all about opulence and keeping things high-end, he says it is possible to still achieve a similar look on a budget .

‘All you need is a really good wooden board, a set of nice cheese knives and three cheeses – one soft, one blue and one sharp,’ he said. 

‘You can go to the upmarket section in Coles or Woolworths for those and then get a packet of crackers, add some grapes, slice up a green apple and add strawberries. 

Alex also keeps everything seasonal and believes that ‘less is not more’.

While Alex is all about opulence and keeping things high-end, he says it is possible to still achieve a similar look on a budget 

While Alex is all about opulence and keeping things high-end, he says it is possible to still achieve a similar look on a budget 

'My favourite Champagne pairings would be Ruinart blanc de blanc or Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé,' Alex said

‘My favourite Champagne pairings would be Ruinart blanc de blanc or Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé,’ Alex said

‘Rather than buy 10 things, buy three things and buy a lot of them,’ he said. 

‘You want it to look full and generous without it looking crazy and buy what you would like to eat, not always what is the cheapest.’

With cured meats boards, Alex’s favourites are truffle salami, prosciutto and cured beef served with woodfired sourdough served with goats cheese and fresh vegetables.

Pairings are also important. 

'You want it to look full and generous without it looking crazy and buy what you would like to eat, not always what is the cheapest,' Alex said

'You want it to look full and generous without it looking crazy and buy what you would like to eat, not always what is the cheapest,' Alex said

‘You want it to look full and generous without it looking crazy and buy what you would like to eat, not always what is the cheapest,’ Alex said 

'When it comes to cheese selection is normally add one cheese that people may not have heard of before,' Alex said

‘When it comes to cheese selection is normally add one cheese that people may not have heard of before,’ Alex said

‘My favourite Champagne pairings would be Ruinart blanc de blanc or Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé,’ Alex said. 

And a final, crucial tip to tie it all together? 

‘When it comes to cheese selection is normally add one cheese that people may not have heard of before,’ Alex said.

‘As an example the black truffle cheddar. It adds an extra bit of excitement to the board as most people are used to brie, cheddar and blue.’

Alex shares snaps on his Instagram page, The Blonde Butler, and can be reached via his website

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