You could say that Shari Ivler has always been a planner of sorts.
Having spent a number of years in the fashion and interior design industries — most recently working as a freelance stylist for Bloomingdale’s — Ivler found that planning get-togethers with friends and family was a piece of cake.
Or, rather, a slice of cheese (with bread).
In anticipation of her guests’ arrivals, Ivler started creating food boards — delicate assemblies of garden-fresh fruits and vegetables, artisanal cheeses and crisp baked breads displayed on wooden boards that proved appetizing, satisfying and aesthetically pleasing and that were soon drawing raves.
Seven months ago, Ivler opened Graze, her New Rochelle-based business offering a selection of these creations for all occasions.
Ivler’s boards are a collaborative effort, as each of them is created using produce sourced from local farmers’ markets, particularly those in Scarsdale and Nyack. Her clients are a part of this effort as well, Ivler says, as these boards are also conversation starters.
“These Graze boards are for friends, family and get-togethers. They’re for someone to put out on the table while opening a bottle of wine, talking and hanging out and snacking all night long,” Ivler says. “The idea behind Graze was to have it be a one-stop shop.”
Ivler didn’t always intend to create food boards. Having graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, she spent eight years working as a fashion merchandiser and stylist in New York City for brands, including Hugo Boss and Juicy Couture,and later for an interior design firm. In 2011, Ivler started freelancing as a blogger and consultant, while also designing visual displays for storefronts. On the side, she began party planning — which eventually led to Graze — but only as a hobby.
“I’ve always loved being creative,” she says. “When I was in the fashion world, I was out doing displays and styling mannequins, and I loved doing interior design. I feel like I’ve always dabbled in parts of it, whether it’s fashion or design or food. I’ve enjoyed doing the creative side.”
Currently, Graze offers three lunch and dinner boards. The meat and cheese ($75 to $175) board includes a selection of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, olives, cornichons, dried and fresh fruits, nuts, crunchy crackers, flowers and fresh herb garnish. The crudité board ($75 to $175) offers a range of assorted raw, seasonal vegetables and traditional hummus. The bread board ($60), a new addition, is the perfect pairing to the former two boards, offering fresh-baked breads, baguettes, bread sticks and crackers.
Graze also offers breakfast and dessert boards. Ivler’s breakfast board ($125), an idea inspired by one of her clients, includes a mélange of fresh fruit, artisanal cheese, biscotti, mini croissants, cinnamon rolls and mini muffins with two different jams. Finishing off the list is Ivler’s dessert board ($75), with fresh and dried fruits, nuts and dark chocolate ($75 to $175).
If Ivler could pick one for herself, she says, it’d be the meat and cheese board.
“One-hundred percent, hands-down. I can live off of meat and cheese with bread. That would be my heaven. Throw in a bottle of red wine and it’s perfect.”
Since launching Graze, Ivler has already added two new boards to the selection, with plans to add more in the future. But for now, she’s just “enjoying the ride.”
“I really enjoy doing this and I think, for me, the best part is that I’m passionate about it,” Ivler says. “It isn’t work for me. I think of every board as a canvas. I really like making each one a piece of art.”
For more, visit grazenewyork.com.