Five with Fox: Toria Smith, Grape and Fig
Five short questions with the current movers and shakers of food, drink and design. We spoke to Toria Smith who founded Grape & Fig in 2017- the first grazing catering company in the UK. Whether you’re looking for food for personal indulgence, a special gift, intimate gatherings, large celebrations or a brand ‘moment’, there’s nothing quite like GRAPE & Fig. We have recently partnered with the girls to provide prosecco for their beautiful Afternoon Tea.
1. Why did you start a grazing company?
We brought the concept of ‘grazing’ over to the UK in 2017, and have since earned the reputation as THE specialists in fuss-free, aesthetically stunning food that brings people together, creates conversation and lasting memories.
My initial inspiration came whilst planning my wedding in 2016 when I quickly realised there was a huge gap in the market when it came to wedding food. Instead of stuffy and expensive canapés, I wanted to feed her guests with a four-metre-long grazing table (full of the finest cheeses, cured meats, antipasti, dips, and accompaniments), which would serve as canapés and starters combined.
What was initially my passion project gained incredible momentum and has grown into the brand that is now loved and adored - GRAPE & Fig. I welcomed my sister Catherine into the business in 2019 and we have focused on diversifying the concept of ‘edible art’ into a stunning selection of products, as well as teaching others how to create the perfect grazing platter at home.
2. What do you enjoy most running Grape and Fig?
Being creative every day and working with the best suppliers, evolving as a brand and seeing the progression, but most importantly creating conversations and memories and bringing people together through the medium of food, flowers and good drink!
3. Can you explain how you managed to overcome the difficulties of the past 18 months?
We’ve survived the past 18 months, we believe, due to a number of reasons, one being adapting our product to meet the needs of our customers during lockdown (smaller, giftable grazes as opposed to large event grazing tables). We have also been able to create lots of lovely online content which engages our customer base and encourages them to get creative with cheese platters/boards. This two-way dialogue and engagement has been amazing in creating a strong, invested community. We’ve also been very innovative and have launched several new products over the last year, such as our ‘Cheese Box of Joy’ and letter/number/symbol grazes, which have been hugely successful.
4. What are your top tips for curating a grazing board?
Our 6-step platter method, of course! Remember to shop the ingredients fresh and local
Fan it out: We suggest having at least three cheese options — a soft, cow’s-milk cheese (like Brie), a crumbly blue (like Stilton), and a hard cheese (like Manchego). But instead of plopping down your cheese wedges randomly, we recommend cutting and fanning them out into a triangular shape.
Edge it up: The next step, create an “edge” by using produce that’s a bit more sturdy, like oranges, grapefruits, cucumbers, even round cured meats. Cut those slices in half to create a sharp edge, and place them around the perimeter of the platter.
Pile it on: With what you have left (cured meats, fruit, sun-dried tomatoes, and the like), make mini but colour dense piles on the board.
Fill it in: The idea is not to have any space left where you can see the actual board. That’s where your looser objects come into play; think olives, blueberries, blackberries, nuts or pomegranate seeds.
Make it Pop: Grab your delicate ingredients — figs, honeycomb (or a drizzle of honey, if that’s all you have), some cut strawberries, ground pistachios — and place them on top of contrasting colours. If you have edible flowers or herbs, that’s stellar — it’ll give the platter quite the sensorial experience.
Show it off: This one is self-explanatory!
5. What is your favourite cocktail? And why?
A Picante, just make sure you use high-quality tequila.