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A grazing plate: Have charcuterie, will travel

Sisters Kris Thornhill and Jennifer Wardlaw encourage their customers to “get their graze on,” and they’re willing to do all the work to make it happen.

Thornhill and Wardlaw operate locations of A Grazing Plate in Naples and Chattanooga, Tennessee, respectively. For Thornhill, the new business represents a hobby gone wild. While she always enjoyed arranging artistic trays for dinner guests, her moment of awakening occurred when she filled a pizza box with charcuterie and brought it to a ladies’ happy hour.

“The response was overwhelming,” she recalls. “People eat with their eyes, and I realized there was a demand for beautifully presented platters.”

She sources her ingredients from local markets, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, and organic fare. Her arrangements come in three sizes: small boxes for two, larger boxes and boards that feed six, and tables that can accommodate 30 or more. Prices start at $85 for a small box and range up to $16.50 per person for a basic table, with add-ons and upgrades available.

Every order can be customized according to the customer’s preference, and special diets are accommodated. “There’s a proliferation of gluten-free products on the market now,” Thornhill says. “For vegans, there are chickpea spreads and guacamole, along with some really tasty and spreadable nut-based cheeses. We work with people to get them exactly what they want.”

While her platters are almost irresistible fodder for Instagram, Thornhill reminds customers not to forget to eat them. Her motto? “There’s an old saying that I read somewhere: ‘People need to understand the difference between wants and needs; I want abs but I need salami.’”

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