Become a rockstar host following these 5 easy grazing platter tips

This week’s post is from our guest, Marilyn Hew founder of Gather n Graze, Hong Kong. It is in response to our reader’s questions on how to perfect the grazing platter. Gather and Graze believe food should come from the heart. They are firm believers in sharing food, and the warmth, energy and benefits generated by such an experience. In parallel Field by Helen Kontouris and Made by Pen’s design aspiration was to develop a serving platter which would become centrepiece to a meal table surrounded by loved ones. The deliberate whirling ‘Lazy Susan’ tiers draw people in, and foster a tradition of food sharing and drawing people together. With similar ambitions we are pleased Field by Helen Kontouris can now help facilitate this as part of Gather n Graze’s catering occasions. Thanks to Marilyn for sharing with us her tips to master a grazing platter. Enjoy!

Guest post by Marilyn Hew

Four months ago, Gather n Graze went live.  Hong Kong is a transient city known for shopping, partying and, of course, eating, and it’s the place where Jen and I decided to launch our idea of a grazing table. More than just a big charcuterie board, ours is a table of quality decadence styled to feast the eyes while filling the stomach.  Our tables are tailor made for each event, with authentic cuisines by private chefs, designed to set the right mood using floral and props and food styled to impress everyone at the party.

People often concentrate so much on the food that they fail to see the silent hero beneath the sumptuous delicacies — the serving tray.  Choosing the correct plate, board or platter is as important as deciding what food to serve.

When designing an ever-popular rustic spread, one of my favourite props is Field by Helen Kontouris, a modern-day take on the Lazy Susan and available at Made By Pen. Its versatility enables us to use it against a wall or as an island spread. With its 360 degrees movability, the Field lets me present food in multiple directions, and the three tiers give our work height and dimension, making our spread resemble art more than food.

How to prep a grazing plate? 

Often I would use the Field to highlight important ingredients of a charcuterie board, like showcasing a Brilliant Savarin or 36 months Compte.

  1. Choose 3 to 4 quality cheeses, a soft cheese, semi hard cheese, a hard cheese and a blue cheese. As these are generally the big pieces, place these cheeses first on the Field. Be sure to keep the dainty cheeses on the top tier such as the carefully sliced up pieces of Compte or Mimolette.
  2. Carefully place a long bunch of grapes that will overhang from one tier to another.
  3. Next, on the board are crackers, we use our signature artisan Gather n Graze crackers. You can substitute this with any store bought cracker, but to keep the standard high, choose crackers that pair well with cheese and deli meats.
  4. Now select 3 to 4 types of deli meats such as parma ham, truffle salami and Serrano ham, and style them in the gaps between the cheeses.
  5. Add the final touches such as dried fruit, nuts fresh fruit or chocolates.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @gatherngraze

Website: http://www.gatherngraze.com

Photo credits to  FOODTRAVELBABE.

 

 

 


Spin away the winter months with the warmth of friends

It’s getting cold, brutally cold if you’re anywhere near our design studio in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. With just 2-degrees measured on the thermometer this morning staying warm and surviving these winter months has become a priority.

The endurance of the cold however, doesn’t mean paling your mood to match the grey palette of the exterior landscape. In fact, winter months can bring about a joyfulness in the harmony of slowing down, nestling in the comforts of your home decor and gathering with loved ones in the warmth for long lazy get-togethers.

This optimistic wintery outlook can be largely attributed to the wellness Scandinavian trends of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-gaa), and more recently Lagom (pronounce La-gom as in ‘prom’). Neither trend has a direct translation in English but both elicit tenderness, comfort and an uplift in mood. They are platforms which stand for ‘togetherness’, ‘coziness’ and ‘warmth’. 

Hygge which first emerged in 2016, is softer and more of a soothing trend translating in interior design to lux knitted throws, soft fabric cushions or rugs, dreamy-creamy hues and scented candles. Translate this to activities such as staying in your favourite bed socks all day, curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, drifting off in thought within the comfort of a warm candle-lit bath, or spinning the night away with tunes and friends by the fireplace. Lagom the more recent trend corresponds to Hygge but is more measured. It is mindful moderation, an indulgence that is not too much, not too little.

Events to lust after, but if the bath isn’t available and your bed socks have holes, how else can we capture the trending mood to maintain our wellness this winter?

 

Maintain your connections

As the winter deepens many of us experience a diminishing desire to venture outside the home and a sense of separation and loneliness can creep in. Maintaining your connections is ever more important in fighting against winter seclusion. Make a plan with your friends or family before the temperatures drop, which excites you and gives a reason for continued catch-ups.  Winter book clubs hosted on rotation bring a warmth, coziness, and happiness to weekly gatherings, as do regular board and card games nights.

Eating with satisfaction

Whether it be your “one and truly”, a group of friends, your neighbourhood gang or your extended family, finding ‘your people’ and sharing mealtimes with them can instill a sense of happiness and wellbeing. A recent study by the University of Oxford looked at social interactions and mealtimes revealing that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and gratified with their lives. This winter stow away your dinner plates and replace them with serving trays and decorative platters, place a photo of your loved ones of the fridge, buy up in bulk and purchase a new entertaining cookbook giving yourself every reason to share a meal.

Hygge your home

If home is where the heart is, and the place you are mostly likely to be during the winter months, then spending time on your home design  is definitely worth it. 2018 winter interior design trends are all about bringing light, colour, and texture into the home to brighten your mood. There are plenty of articles online which guide you through your winter home make-overs. The ones we love include 5 winter decorating ideas and How to style your home Hygge

A showpiece to invest in

And, if you’re not able to revamp your entire home, then investing in a piece that facilitates connections might just bring you the happiness needed to keep the winter blues at bay. We love Field by Helen Kontouris and Made By Pen. A serving platter which reflects the simplicity of Hygge exactly, and is the goldilocks of Lagom. 

A three-tiered sculpted platter inspired by the elegance of the carved landscapes of agricultural fields. The platter combines the utility of a traditional “Lazy Susan,” to allow each tier to swivel freely. These whirling layers elicit an emotional response from its audience, drawing them in, conjuring a sense of traditional community sharing, and bringing people together during the cold winter months.

How we’d use Field by Helen Kontouris

  • Purchase Field and perfect the 2018 grazing food trend. Exact your styling techniques ensuring you use the tiers to give your platter the height variations needed to be impressive.  Choose your colour theme and purchase complementary foods to match taking into consideration colour and texture. Finally, support the visual palette using greenery or floral garnish.
  • Alternatively, use the tiered layers of Field to take your audience on a food journey, using the layers to reveal one course at a time. Or even pep some fun into the feast and use the tiers to build your course – one of our favourite desserts at present is Churros so we’d used Field to create a dessert bar. Cover the base with churros, the next tier with chocolate and other dipping sauces and the top with the variety garnishes – sprinkles, nuts, icing sugar or fresh chopped fruits.
  • Replace your book club with a weekly curated meal challenge. Create a light-hearted food competition within your family or friendship circle – choose categories such as method-type, ingredient source or pick specific ingredient inclusions and take turns to serve up the dish on a weekly or fortnightly basis using Field as your serving centrepiece.

Facilitating connections to warm from the inside will help you stay contented, snug and happy this winter. We hope, like us you’ll surround yourself with loved ones and begin to relish the plummeting temperatures.

Share with us and go in the draw to WIN your own Field by Helen Kontouris

We are offering the chance to win your own Field in either Oak or Walnut. Simply share with us your tips for maintaining your winter happiness or for enjoying a Hygge moment.
Plus, share our article with a friend to double your chances of winning.
For more information on Field by Helen Kontouris visit our website www.madebypen.com or if you have any questions simply email us at hello@madebypen.com


Linea by Jim Hannon-Tan

Interviewed: Jen Bishop (Interiors Addict)


Today, Jen Bishop, founder of Interiors Addict and much loved Australian reno addict shares her
experience and insights on being a flourishing business entrepreneur, wife and mother.
Here’s her take on being successful in her achievements, the emotional hurdles which occur
with multiple role conflict, and 1-2 life lessons she’s learnt along the way.

You can do it all. Truth or myth? What’s your take?

It depends what you consider all and what you’re happy with. Personally, I love being able to juggle a satisfying and enjoyable career, and to contribute financially to our household, while being a stay at home mum two days a week (although things aren’t always that straightforward!). Life is always a bit hectic but I think I’d be bored if it were any other way. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder but somehow I still have more freedom and flexibility too. You can’t do it all yourself though; I think that’s the key. I have great people working for me and a wonderful part-time nanny and I couldn’t do it all without them. I had no childcare (and virtually no mat leave) for the first 13 months of Sebastian’s life and that was too long. I’m not sure how I didn’t lose the plot! Delegation is a wonderful thing and you have to spend money (on people) to make money.

Interiors Addict is an impressive achievement. What are you most proud of, and what satisfaction has come in building your dream?

To be honest, I’m just proud and grateful to still have a growing blogging business after five years. It’s a funny thing to call yourself a full-time blogger and you have to constantly keep on top of the latest changes and developments to stay relevant and making money. The absolute best thing about my job though, is being my own boss and being able to spend more time, more flexibly, with my son, Sebastian. I still pinch myself that I get to do what I love for work, even though it’s not always as glamorous as people might imagine! 

Best business mentor advice you’ve been given?

I think it was the good friend and fellow business owner who encouraged me to take on my first part-time staff member a few years ago. That was a game changer. 

You managed to build Interiors Addict whilst also being a wife and mother. Working and managing a family is well documented as stressful, with most of us experiencing the daily the tug between family, and work commitments. How do you cope with the role conflict?

I’m forever grateful that I started Interiors Addict, and made the transition from it being a hobby to a business, before I became a wife and mum. And then becoming a mum a couple of years later just made me a power multi-tasker so I could handle anything! I’m not sure I would have had the time or energy to get the business off the ground in the early days if I’d already had a child. I take my hat off to anyone who starts and establishes a business when they already have kids but then again, those aforementioned mum multi-tasking super powers do come in incredibly useful!

Planning and organisation are critical to being able to successfully make things happen – can you share with us your organisational routine.

I wish I had some amazing secrets to share but to be honest, a lot of the time I’m flying by the seat of my pants and making it up as I go along! I swear by my paper week-to-view diary, to many people’s disgust, as well as various paper to-do lists scattered around my desk! Working from home, I find a physical office is essential so I can keep things somewhat separate.

*Jen Bishop is a former newspaper and magazine journalist from the UK who moved to Sydney 10 years ago. She started her blog, Interiors Addict, as a hobby, as a way to write about what she was passionate about; interior design and homewares. Five years ago, that blog became a business and is now one of Australia’s largest design sites. Jen is married to Damian and mum to Sebastian, three. She is currently renovating her own home in Sydney’s north.

 


          Interviewed: Susan Chung (Made By Pen)

 

As part of our Magic Mums series we would be amiss not to interview and glean the insights
from Susan Chung, Made By Pen’s founding partner and mother to two primary school aged
boys.

 Made By Pen (we can triumphantly say) is an impressive achievement. What are you most proud of, and what satisfaction has come in building your dream?

This is a hard one to answer. I am proud of the team of people who have worked so hard to make what we do possible in such a short period of time. We are still building the dream, but any little progress we make gives me confidence we are inching closer to our vision of taking Australian design to the global stage.

How do you cope with demands of both business and home?

Both roles do demand a lot of you, to cope I break down the boundaries of work and home so I am able to do both. From a business perspective I do not think in hours (9to5), but more in tasks and milestones to be reached. At Pen we operate in a truly flexible environment, much of our work gets done between school hours, then we break to devote time to the family and re-engage in work in the evening. If I look at delivering tasks then I can conduct business in the available time I have, currently I am at the dentist with my son!

You can do it all. Truth or myth? What’s your take?

I wish I could do it all. However, for me it is a total myth. At Made by Pen, we do everything in-house from product ideation all the way to the sales. I am a believer in hiring or outsourcing the right people for certain tasks. I am also a strong believer in surrounding yourself with a great tribe – at work with a great team and home with family support.

 

Planning and organisation are critical to being able to successfully make things happen – can you share with us your organisational routine?

I am a very visual person so I need to be able to see what needs to be done. We take advantages of app and tools that help us communicate, log and priorities tasks.

Best business mentor advice you’ve been given?

Be prepared to learn, read, absorb and network. As a business owner you’ll be wearing many hats.

We all experience ‘mum failures’ – would you like to share yours?

There are sooooo many…. Forgotten friend’s birthdays parties to late pick-ups. Perhaps the worst one was, when my youngest son lost his first tooth, and the tooth fairy didn’t turn up. He came into our room crying in the morning saying that maybe the tooth fairy didn’t come because the tooth wasn’t white enough. That broke my heart. That night however, the tooth fairy did visit and wrote him a note explaining it was too windy to fly.

 

 


                Interviewed: Kate Vale (KVDC)


Today, Kate Vale, interior designer and owner of Kate Vale Design & Consulting (KVDC)
shared her experience and insights on being a flourishing business owner, wife and mother
(and 35 -weeks pregnant). Here’s her take on being successful in her achievements, the emotional
hurdles which occur with multiple role conflict, and 1-2 life lessons she’s learnt along the way.

KVDC is an impressive achievement. What are you most proud of, and what satisfaction has come in building your dream?

I would say it’s a work in progress. Having my own studio means I get to bring my ideas and visions to life which is always incredibly satisfying. Combining this with the flexibility to work around my (growing) family is also a great thing. I’m most proud that I get to enjoy having a career and a family and like to think I’m making the best of both. Each role is incredibly important to me and being able to have the two concurrently is great.

You managed to build KVDC whilst also being a wife and mother. Working and managing a family is well documented as stressful, with most of us experiencing the daily the tug between family, and work commitments. How do you cope with the role conflict?

It’s not easy and a constant juggle. There are certainly early mornings and late nights and last minute calls for baby sitters. However, I’m incredibly fortunate in the fact that I have brilliant family support that I can call on when required. One of my favourite things about running a small business is the close relationship you build with your clients. Sometimes you need to cancel a meeting due to having a sick baby but if you have a strong client relationship, they will understand. At the end of the day, we’re all just people doing the best we can. Sometimes we drop the ball and that’s just what will happen every now and again. It’s about recovering quickly and learning every day to be the best you can be in every role you play.

You can do it all. Truth or myth? What’s your take?

Ah….. sure. To a point. I am honestly so inspired by women today and what they can achieve! I’m always pushing myself to be the best I can however I also understand the importance of not burning out. You can’t give to anyone without feeling well yourself so I try to stay on top of that. If I start to feel overwhelmed I’ll try and take some “me” time to recover so I can “go again”. The possibilities are endless and every day I see an example of an inspirational woman who’s doing amazing things! You just need to know to put your hand up and ask for help when you need it and always be there to do the same for others when they do.

Planning and organisation are critical to being able to successfully make things happen – can you share with us your organisational routine.

I really try and set aside time each week for working “on the business and not just “in” the business. Also, not easy to do as you get so involved in projects and just want to give your clients all your time. It doesn’t happen the same time every week for me currently, but that’s my goal. It’s one of my favourite times in the week, so exciting to plan ahead and see your vision come to life.

Best business mentor advice you’ve been given?

“When you’re looking after your clients, you’re working on growing your business” Just a nice reminder that although the process can feel like it’s a slow one, taking your time matters.

We all experience ‘mum failures’ – would you like to share yours?

Like when you forget to pick your kid up from daycare? (Hubby tells me we’d had the conversation that morning but I’d completely forgotten) This happened the other day, I’m blaming baby brain. (I’m 35 weeks pregnant) I was in the middle of a presentation and it was 5 to 6, my stomach just dropped! Luckily, my hubby had picked him up hours earlier but there was certainly a brain glitch that day. I cried in the car on the way home that day. That was a hard day.

How did you spend your Mother’s day?

With the family. These are the best days.

 

 

 


                Interviewed: Terri Winter (top3 by design)

      

  Today, Terri Winter, owner, curator and Australian entrepreneur of top3 by design shared
her experience and insights on being a flourishing business owner, wife and mother. Here’s
her take on being successful in her achievements, the emotional hurdles which occur with
multiple role conflict, and 1-2 life lessons she’s learnt along the way.

top3 is an impressive achievement. What are you most proud of, and what satisfaction has come in building your dream?

I am most proud of my team. I love being at work and working with a group of people that love design and love what they do. Over the 17 years we have seen the attitude towards “throwawayism” start to ship – slowly… but It is changing. We are big believers in buying less and buying better, and it is nice to see people being more mindful in their purchases.

You managed to build top3 whilst also being a wife and mother. Working and managing a family is well documented as stressful, with most of us experiencing the daily the tug between family, and work commitments. How do you cope with the role conflict?

I think you have to learn to do everything in bite-sized pieces and learn what your priorities are. You totally have to accept that you can never do everything. Don’t try – the supermum thing is a complete fallacy – we all do what we do and do the best we can. Sometimes you drop the ball. Ease up on yourself when you do.

Planning and organisation are critical to being able to successfully make things happen – can you share with us your organisational routine.

I like to time-block. Even within my daily work routine I like to work on one project at a time. I always have a lot going on, and feel pressured to be doing a thousand things at once. I don’t believe there really is such a thing as multi-tasking. I like to do each thing – once again – bite-sized pieces!

You can do it all. Truth or myth? What’s your take?

I think I just answered that! Fake! You can HAVE both – but don’t be under the illusion that you can do it all. The grass is always greener where you water it is one of my favourite sayings and you just need to keep an eye on where your attention is needed most at any given time.

Best business mentor advice you’ve been given?

Don’t let your day be run by your inbox. Set times to check it and then get on with what you want to do. Then check it again when YOU are ready. You can easily spend your whole day responding to your inbox. There is a big difference to being busy and being productive and I think the inbox is the biggest culprit for destroying productivity. You run it – it should not run you. And surround yourself with people better at things that you are. I love my team, and could not do it without them.

We all experience ‘mum failures’ – would you like to share yours?

I am constantly up for another “mother of the year award” as I always say when I get it wrong… I try not to think of it that way. You drive yourself crazy. It seems there is guilt if you are a working mother and guilt if you are a full-time mum. Let’s celebrate the fact that we manage at all.

What are you hoping for this Mother’s Day?

Breakfast in bed and I might treat myself to a new velvet clutch from our new WOUF collection from Spain! –