Doing more at-home entertaining lately? Make sure that cheese plate you’re serving your guests is assembled artfully with these essential guidelines from Opal’s regional chefs.

One consistent item you will always find on any Opal restaurant menu? Artisan cheese boards. “It’s a signature appetizer, yet they’re still never exactly the same,” says Scott Luper, director of food and beverage for Opal Collection resorts. And unlike other dishes that require rigid recipes, there are only a few set rules to follow when it comes to building a quality cheese plate, according to regional executive chefs Ryan Phillips and Andy Gayler, that is ideal for at-home entertaining.

Tip 1: Let Your Cheese Breathe


Remove cheeses from fridge and leave out for 15 minutes prior to serving so that they reach room temp, which is when the flavors and textures are enhanced to their full and natural state, says Gayler.

Tip 2: Mix & Match

A variety of textures/flavors is key, says Phillips, who suggests a soft cheese like brie, a semi-soft cheese like a blue, a firmer cheese like a tomme, and a hard cheese like a parmesan.

Tip 3: Bland Bread is Your Friend


Avoid crackers with tons of flavoring or salt as they will overpower the flavor of the cheese, says Gayler. Phillips go-to carb is a nice, thin slice of ciabatta, brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted for some crunch.

Tip 4: Always Eat in Order

Fruits – dried or fresh – are great palate cleansers in between bites. “I also suggest numbering the cheeses, so people sample each in a specific order,” says Phillips. “Like a flight of beer, you don’t want to start with the strongest, most pungent cheese, but work your way up to that.”