A Little Pomp IS the Circumstance Graduation Buffet

Before we know it, the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” will fill the air on college campuses and in commencement halls across the land. The hard work that goes into earning a degree deserves a celebration that stands out in the crowd. I’m not trying to put my nose all up in the air, but if you want to go beyond the crepe paper streamers and cardboard mortar boards, here’s an idea for a graduation buffet cum laude that your graduate and their guests may favor. I created this as a demonstration table for my Spring 2012 “Art of Tablescaping” students to consider.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge.)

Our Mission style dining room table was way too heavy to move, so I left in place for this demonstration. Students were asked to pretend the table was positioned lengthwise in the room as shown in the 2nd photo.

I started with a black full-length tablecloth to resemble the black of traditional academic robes. Of course, you will want to consider what colors are most fitting for your graduate’s special day.

The head of the buffet table has forks nestled side-by-side in a cotton napkin and placed on a silver tray. The butterflies – seen throughout the room – bring spots of color and speak to the Spring season. The initialed napkins, which remind me of the traditional “hood” worn over the gown, are simply stairstepped on either side in front of the Arcoroc “Seabreeze” glass plates. The napkins can be purchased with any letter from A-Z at Bed Bath & Beyond. Separating the eating utensils from the food is a barrage of silver candlesticks arranged at different heights. Peering down the length of a buffet table through candlelight can be quite the dramatic look!

I know a lot of people have moved away from traditional chafers in favor of electric warming trays (I own a couple myself that I just love!), but I still like the regal drama and uniformity of multiple chafers all lined up for a more formal look.

Grapes are piled high in an oil-rubbed bronze urn centered on a huge oval tray. A variety of hors d’oeuvres are placed on the tray beneath it. This is one little trick that can make your buffet look a bit more sumptuous AND be used as a space-saving idea as it places food both high and low.

Breadsticks are presented in small urns set atop miniature silver cake plateaus.

Try using “edible space fillers” like the melon wedges on silver beaded-edge plateaus shown here. This adds color, texture and sometimes fragrance (as in that of cut fruit) to the table while filling in those bare spots. I like for a buffet table to be teeming with food and have that Louis XIV Court at Versailles look about it!

The surface behind the buffet table is used as a beverage center. A large, untamed centerpiece in an urn like the one used for grapes on the table fills space and plays nicely off the glitzy pieces around it.

The glasses of mock champagne pictured here have a cherry added for flavor and color which create a sensational presentation. (Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or sliced fruits like peaches or apricots work well also, and infuse the champagne with fabulous fresh flavor!) Coffee is served from a large silver urn.

Celebrating a graduation is a fun and happy occasion, so deep-six a bit of the pomp and use something near the front door or in the food area that adds a little whimsy. Here, our faithful butler, Geoffrey, is all decked out in his freshly starched lab coat and mortar board as he celebrates a pharmacy school graduation. (This idea actually came from our next-door-neighbors last Spring when their daughter graduated from St. Louis College of Pharmacy. I asked if they minded if I recreated the look that greeted guests who came to their home to celebrate.)  On this evening, the only Rx for my students was to have a great time in class!

I am joining Cuisine Kathleen again this week for the next installment of “Let’s Dish!” which will be up for all to see after 6:00 p.m. CDT on Wednesday. Join us for all things dish-related!