What makes this table beautiful? 1) a consistent color theme; 2) the artful deployment of garnishes and attractive arrangement of individual items on platters and bowls; and 3) height! Height is an often overlooked component of successful tablescapes. Try to picture this table with everything at the same level. Not nearly as appealing. See the three-tier plate holders (one in black, one in chrome)? Inexpensive, and they’ll hold any standard-sized dinner plate, so you can choose colored plates to match your theme. The black one looks especially good with persimmon plates and black plates at Halloween time.
Sometimes, you can forego a platter altogether. We have a square-topped table in the sun room. With a big hungry crowd present, we wanted to take the edge off appetites so that the beef tenderloin slices and other main course items would actually stretch to feed the masses. We sliced several different types of cheese and maintained a big unsliced chunk of each one. After cleaning the table thoroughly, we artfully arranged the cheese with fruit right on the tabletop. The uncut pineapple in the middle added a tall element to the tablescape. Yummy and accessible.
This view shows even more of the table, with the bowl of cherries (we didn’t want them rolling around), a lovely pear, a few crackers, and some strawberries and blackberries.
You scarcely notice the plastic plates. You cannot imagine how painful it was for me to consent to the use of plastic plates, but we were having over 60 people for dinner, so even with two dishwashers and more china than any one woman should own, even I could see the wisdom of pulling out the plastic. By selecting clear, we guaranteed the plates wouldn’t clash with the rest of our carefully constructed color scheme. See the tablecloth? Ah, yet another one of my sheer fabrics, lovingly duct-taped underneath. The bottom tablecloth was actually red, but when the white and black sheer fabric was placed on top, it made it appear to be a deep rich pink. It was gorgeous! We procured inexpensive stainless flatware at the local restaurant supply store. I draw the line at plastic silverware!
Here is another view of the same table. We may have been using plastic plates, but the look was pure elegance.
Grilled vegetables not only taste incredible, their color and texture make them a perfect focal point for a buffet dinner. Who needs flowers when you have a centerpiece like this? This particular display was done for me by my friend, Chef George Stella. It is part of his signature style. Note the variety of colors. With a couple of uncooked peppers and basil sprigs completing the look, our guests were all ready to dig in. Carefully concealed clear glass platters underneath keep my husband, who does the laundry, from hating me.