Build the Best Chef’s Board Ever
We celebrate our state fare with local ingredients and artisan products.
By Carly Scholl | Photography by Jill Richards
Chef’s board, charcuterie platter, cheese plate, snack tray: No matter what you call it, this magical mishmash of seemingly mismatched bites has the power to gather crowds large and small around the table for some DIY dining. But what constitutes a successful spread? For us, it’s all about the local love.
Handcrafted serving platters, utensils, bowls and tumblers lay the foundation of our noshing station, where small-batch cheeses mingle with crusty loaves of artisan bread amidst a menagerie of sweet and savory snacks made in Arizona. Distinctly Southwestern ingredients, such as Hatch chiles and prickly pear, make crowd-pleasing cameos, transforming just another charcuterie board into a uniquely Sonoran experience.
While indulging in these treats is certainly the end goal, building your munching masterpiece is half the fun. Discover family-owned businesses right here in the Valley; mingle with passionate craftspeople at your neighborhood farmers market; or stumble upon a carefully curated specialty store where you’ll uncover hidden gems that’ll be the highlight of your happy hour.
1. Detailed with leather and brass, these handcarved serving boards are a classic base for any snacking spread. Matching utensils make self-serving a breeze. $50 per board, $50 for utensil set. (chasewarrendesign.com)
2. Change up your cheese plate with artisan-made wooden spoons and knives. $25 (phxtoothpickco.com)
3. Get creative with a set of artfully crafted ceramic platters, bowls, coasters and tumblers—fill them with popcorn, trail mix, pretzel sticks or honey straws for a fun twist on a chef’s board. $24-$72 (lafayetteavenueceramics.com)
1. Stop into Old Heidleberg Bakery in East Phoenix for a taste of authentic German baked goods, including these horseshoe pretzels made fresh daily. $1 (602) 224-9877
2. The Russian-style Dirty Blonde from Tempe-based Wonder Mustard has more than a little kick but harmonizes beautifully with charcuterie, cheeses and, of course, soft pretzels. $8 for 9 ounces (arcadiapremium.com)
3. Tear off a piece of sourdough batard, baked with an expertly balanced ratio of crunch to chew by Proof Bread in Mesa. $5 (proofbread.com)
4. A subtle dusting of Hatch green chile and white cheddar elevates humble popcorn to gourmet status that’s worthy of your snack board. $6 for 4 ounces (kettleheroes.com)
5. When stuffed with jalapeño and Mexican lime, average olives go from snack to staple. $8 for 5 ounces (queencreekolivemill.com)
6. Paper-thin ribbons of fresh prosciutto crudo are a must on any good charcuterie board, and taste even better when they’re made from all natural, non-GMO pork. $36 per pound (arcadiameatmarket.com)
7. A sprinkle of red Hatch chile salt on an artfully arranged bite of goat cheese and fresh bread is little bite of heaven. $12 for 3.4 ounces (desertprovisions.com)
8. Handmade at Black Mesa Ranch in Snowflake, this delicate concoction is everything a good goat cheese should be—airy, tangy and simple. $18 per pound (blackmesaranchonline.com)
9. With a flavor profile reminiscent of strawberry-watermelon bubble gum, prickly pear is a much-loved desert ingredient. As a jam, the fruit’s sticky sweetness is a delicious balance for salty cured meats. $11 for 4 ounces (arizonacactusranch.com)
10. Inspired by her Mexican heritage, caterer Lisa Toon concocts wafer-thin chocolates blended with a variety of spices, such as the Spicy Sonoran featuring a combo of cinnamon and cayenne. $7 for 3 ounces (carolinaschocolate.com)
11. Scottsdale fixture Sphinx Date Ranch is a must-visit for any chef’s board enthusiast. Sweet, chewy Medjool dates ($5 for 8 ounces) pair perfectly with salty goat cheeses, while earthy pecans ($3.75 for 4 ounces) make for tasty snacking. (sphinxdateranch.com)
12. Forget the imported stuff and keep your eyes peeled at your local farmers market for artisanal small-batch cheeses, such as these aged creations from Rio Verde Naturals. Crumbly Welsh-style Caerphilly has a mild cheddar flavor, while “Lobo” reveals a vermilion layer of wolfberry folded inside creamy goat cheese. Prices and quantities vary.
13. Unlike filtered variations, raw honey is thick and spreadable, making it ideal for pairing with breads and cheeses. The bees at Rango Honey spin their liquid gold from Sonoran flowers. $10 for 12 ounces (rangohoney.com)
14. Mediterra Bakehouse out of Coolidge transforms simple ingredients—sometimes just water, flour and salt—into mouthwatering European-style loaves, such as this kalamata olive bread. $6 (mediterrabakehouse.com)
15. A wheel that does not need reinventing: the classic olive oil and balsamic vinegar combo. But for a Southwestern twist on this dipping duo, try an olive oil infused with blood orange or chipotle. $6-$18 (outrageousoliveoil.com)
16. Smoky paprika and subtle garlic give this handmade German salami its rich flavor. $11.90 per pound (germansausageaz.com)
17. Emmer Farro crackers from local institution Hayden Flour Mills are made with heritage grains and provide a welcome crunch. $7 (haydenflourmills.com)
18. This brown paper package tied up with string holds one of our favorite things: a rustic baguette baked at Phoenix’s Pane Bianco. $4 (pizzeriabianco.com)