Treats Served on a Platter
VANELIS RIVERA | KELLY MOORE CLARK
The Platter & Sugar Bakery has more than enough treats for customers to peruse, customers can ease their way into selections knowing there never is a right or wrong combination, only what feels right in the moment. After all, today’s lunch platter can be tomorrow’s snacks.
“People eat with their eyes first,” says Jodi Fontenot White, specifically referring to the visual feast of luncheon platters of all varieties and sizes served daily at her brick and mortar The Platter. Dubbed by many as “adult Lunchables,” food platters, a multifaceted version of charcuterie boards, is any epicurean’s dream. It doesn’t matter what you call it, what food items you choose to add, or whether you are using a tray or a board, the crafty and aesthetically appealing nature of this form of food display is a gastronomic cultural movement. Though people have been doing cheese boards and charcuterie for hundreds of years, the photogenic nature of these food presentations has become all the rage. Between the bright colors of fruit, shapes of creatively folded meats, intricate patterns of different cheeses, and then some, it’s no surprise that The Platter has become the hub for delectable food arrangements.
Growing up her dad’s side of the family prepared smaller platters. Accustomed to this, her first venture into platter-making was a bit straightforward. “Everything was separate,” she says, referring to the single platters of relish, meats, and cheeses. But traveling with her husband exposed her to the seemingly endless possibilities of ingredients and layouts. Realizing there really aren’t any rules to the game, and newly inspired to “broaden people’s horizons,” she began creating platters to her liking, just for friends and family. One day, a Facebook post of one of her creations created a stir. Suddenly, her comments section was full of admiration and business inquiries. “This is really something that we need in our area,” White says, assessing that, “Food is the point of gathering.” Whether for a birthday, anniversary, or sympathy gift, sometimes a food tray is in the same vein as a card and flowers, especially because you can always enjoy it over a couple of days or share it with loved ones. “That’s how it originated. Because it can be used for so many different things, “says White.
Her personal draw to the often nutritious array takes two forms—its ability to bring people together and act as the focal point of any event. “We’re all about the wow factor when it comes to our presentation,” enthused White. “We want people to be like ‘Oh, my gosh. I would have never thought about that.’” The plethora of platters that White creates is an opportunity for customers to try different foods they wouldn’t normally go out and eat or buy at a grocery store. The Platter became official in January of 2020 and opened its doors in only three months. “We just exploded,” she exclaims. White went from catering from five to eight people to the eight hundred she served at a recent event.
The Platter currently has fifteen themed combos on its menu. “I’m not a huge sweets person, so I do enjoy the Bloody Mary,” says White. Trimmed in a beautiful garnish, the tray includes long stalks of pickled asparagus, juicy pickled okra, large black olives, stuffed green olives, baby corn, celery stalks, banana peppers, baby dill pickles, all trimmed in a beautiful garnish. White also enjoys The Best Charcuterie. Here, amid a variety of crackers are carefully placed mounds of stuffed olives, nuts, salami, prosciutto, ham, cheddar, gouda, provolone, Monterey, brie, blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, green and red grapes, pepper jelly, fig spread, peso apricot jam, and spicy mustard. “My favorite platter to make is any platter combination on our three-foot round platter,” says White. The team has twin, three-foot platters they call Bertha and Betty. “And, when we put those together, it is so beautiful. Not only does that platter take on the whole backend of the business, but it also takes two people to hold because it is so heavy. They are perfect for the groom’s dressing room or the bride’s dressing room,” she adds, though such a massive spread is fitting for any large occasion or gathering.
Starting in June, White will be combining her two businesses under one roof, The Platter and Sugar Bakery, which means more decadently sweet platters! Her current menu has a few sugary selections that touch on most of the usual favorites. The Angel Platter is something out of Mary Antoinette’s dreams. It highlights angel food cake bites, pound cake bites, dessert bar bites, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, rich chocolate fruit dip, and flavored gummies. Having a movie night? Start by picking up the Movie Night Platter made up of buttery popcorn, caramel popcorn, fresh grapes, juicy strawberries, pretzels, yogurt, covered nuts, gummy bears, fruit snacks, and M&Ms (with or without peanuts). Sugar Bakery covers all of our favorite sweets and then some, so don’t hesitate to add a little sweet to your savory selections if you’re opting for a customizable tray.
Sugar Bakery’s cake balls are currently the people’s choice. Not only diverse in their flavor selections like red velvet, but they’re also the perfect on-the-go snack. White is always busy with cakes, a fact made even more apparent on their Facebook page. Their most recent cake post is of a lemon and raspberry, three-tiered wedding cake, mildly textured with frosting and decorated with light yellow flowers. White has also posted a homemade Chantilly Cake (vanilla cake decorated with fresh berries and a sweetened whipped cream), a special birthday order. A Turtle Bundt cake was highlighted as a catered order. And most impressive is a recent groom’s cake order: White’s first Star Wars creation in the form of the Millennium Falcon!
It may be easy to stick with what you know at either end of this business, but White encourages customers to get weird. In other words, you can ask to add whatever you want to an existing platter, and none of White’s team will bat an eye, mostly because they’ve already had some interesting requests. White recalls that on one of her Birthday Sprinkles Platters (small birthday cake, rice crispy treats, macaroons, variety of cookies, variety of donuts, gourmet popcorn, variety of cake balls, dipped strawberries, dried pretzels, mini cupcakes, cereal mix, and chocolate candy mix) a customer asked to add pickles and salami roses. “Whatever works,” laughs White. “She may have been pregnant, I have no idea.” The nature of the business welcomes customization, which pairs excellently for anyone wanting to use them for catering. “We are very culture savvy,” says White, referring to the number of foods she offers, many of which are home-cooked, as well as the many food accommodations she can make. Think vegan, keto, or vegetarian platters! White also partakes in private, charter flight catering out of Ouachita Parish. Passengers are able to look through their menu by way of the airport concierge. Not long ago, she made Lebanese food for travelers from Austria. “I love to know where my food is traveling,” she says. “We’ve received so many thank yous from our travelers, and so it’s pretty neat, and when they come back through they want to make sure that we’re catering for them.”
Offering such a wide range of possibilities can make it challenging for new time customers who tend to want a little bit of everything, which White, of course, is happy to oblige, but also is willing to guide anyone who is willing to edit down their cravings. Clearly, The Platter isn’t serving your “traditional box for food.” They use quality ingredients and are happy to accommodate guests beyond their selection of food. “If you call and you want to spend $20, we can make something fabulous for $20,” she says. Like most things in life, her platters are about a journey, and with each item you select, you’re choosing your own adventure.
Believe it or not, Westerners love to eat with their fingers. It’s intimate, fun, and laid back. “They enjoy the fact that the food is all together. You’re not having to prepare different dishes,” White says. “It’s convenient and shareable.” The kind of eating format a platter encourages is one where the community is involved. It’s also a conversation piece, food to talk about and share. “Here, you’re actually dealing with the owner,” she says, emphasizing that all custom orders and catering get individual consultations with her. “We’ll help you any way possible, so you’re getting that mom and pop feel.”
Too many options can be overwhelming, and though The Platter & Sugar Bakery has more than enough treats for customers to peruse, customers can ease their way into selections knowing there never is a right or wrong combination, only what feels right in the moment. After all, today’s lunch platter can be tomorrow’s snacks.
The Platter is located at 120 Blanchard St, West Monroe. Call them at (318) 450-7305 to schedule an event or catering consultation. Follow them on Facebook to stay updated with their lunch menu and featured platters and desserts.