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A well-appointed cheese plate is the perfect start or finish to a dinner party with friends. But a picked-over, crumbly mess of a cheese plate is nobody's idea of a good time. At your next soirée, consider personal cheese plates, an elegant option that allows you to shows off your fromage know-how but avoid spoilage and waste.

Set three cheese samples on individual plates, arranging them clockwise from mildest to strongest. Set the plates before each guest, on a side table or displayed on a tiered cake stand. Suggest that guests eat the cheeses in clockwise order to appreciate the subtleties of each, serving complimentary compotes and jellies alongside. Pour out glasses of sauterne or port for the perfect accompaniment.

Chef Michael Tong is the owner of Toronto's Sublime Catering.

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