Did somebody say cheese?

Published 7:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2021

It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Charcuterie boards and cheese trays are at every gathering, restaurant, and on the minds of many these days.

Maybe it has something to do with my generation’s love for the lunchable; but put a couple of cheeses, fine deli meats, a cracker or two, and some berries on a cutting board, and we’re a happy bunch.

Thankfully, Natchez has just the girl to bring the art of grazing to your next gathering (or Friday Netflix date with a bottle of wine at home).

Sarah Beth Willard started creating these displays in January of this year and has stayed busier than she could have ever imagined.

Natchez Grazing Co is a boutique catering company based in Natchez that specializes in creating artfully arranged grazing tables and boards for any gathering big or small. 

Willard shared, “I started dabbling with charcuterie several years ago, but I’d only bring them to large family gatherings such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, or a ‘get together’ for my closest friends. My boards were always a crowd pleaser, but I never dreamed I’d soon make a career out of this.”

After finally taking the advice of her friends to heart, Willard started putting together the plan for Natchez Grazing Company and enlisted the help of her friend, Caroline Golden, to organize this adventure.

“Caroline is my behind the scenes gal. She works full time for the fabulous florist-extraordinaire John Grady Burns at Nest. When she’s not creating beautiful arrangements at John’s shop, she’s helping fluff our grazing tables to add finishing touches to make them picture perfect.”

Being a native Natchezian, Willard said growing up in the Natchez social scene of tableaux and Mardi Gras have only added to her love of entertaining. She also credits her late grandmother, Bethany Lambdin Overton, for her eye for detail and fascination with party planning.

“I knew I wanted to incorporate Natchez to show homage to my roots,” Willard added, “and grazing because it seemed more fitting to me than charcuterie. I imagine people grazing over my boards and tables, so I ran with the name.”

So, why is the idea of grazing over a board or table of meats and cheeses so appealing?

Willard thinks, “This answer might sound too simple, but I honestly think they are so popular right now because they’re just flat out fun. All the colors, different meats, cheeses, and fruits bring an excitement that a simple party dip just can’t!

“People love options and with a grazing table or board you have just that. It’s also something different that’s not offered or served at most restaurants, so it’s a new experience to a lot of people even though it’s not a new concept.”

If you are interested in having Willard create a board or table for your next gathering, shoot her an email at natchezgrazingco@gmail.com.