This month, Chef Bryan Clark – executive chef of Joel Catering – is helping readers ace those holiday bridal showers, engagement parties or even rehearsal dinners this season.

“Considering it’s my passion, it’s hard to admit that some people don’t actually like to cook, or maybe the thought of cooking for a bunch of people feels intimidating,” said Clark. “Whatever the case, there’s a simple, but delicious solution for those who still want to contribute to the party, but don’t want to break out the pots and pans: a charcuterie board.”

Charcuterie boards are always a hot item at parties. It’s easy, guests can pick and chose to eat whatever is their favorite items to munch on and it can be fun for the host or hostess to put together a delicious spread.

“What makes a good charcuterie board is presentation and a variety of flavors to tempt your guests to mix and match,” said Clark. “A wooden cutting board works well for laying out the different foods, but it doesn’t have to be artisan, or a cutting board at all. A platter can be utilized, but just make sure that the layout looks appealing – no, you can’t slap a bunch of cold cuts on a plate and call it a charcuterie board.”

Below is Clark’s cheat sheet of ideas that y’all can pick and chose to include to impress even the most curmudgeonly of holiday guests



1. Meats for slicing: cured meats including hard salami such as sopressata​ or sausages such as Saucisson. Just make sure it’s something you can slice and place on your serving board.

2. Sliced meats: prosciutto, Mortadella, or Serrano ham.

3. Cheeses: try a creamy type like Brie or Camembert; a medium cheese such as Manchego, cheddar, Muenster or Gouda; a stinky cheese – bleu always works; and possibly a hard cheese such as Parmesan or Reggiano

4. Fruit: grapes, strawberries, blueberries, dried apricots

5. Nuts: almonds, pistachios, pignoli

6. Spreads, mustards and jams: humus, tapenade, terrines and pate ; Dijon mustard or Creole; and strawberry, blackberry, plum, red pepper, apricot and cherry jams.

7. Dates

8. Sesame sticks

9. Sliced baguette

10. Crackers