Featured photo: Thanksgiving board by Wanderlust Boards (courtesy photo)
Let’s get one thing straight: Charcuterie is meat. There is no such thing as a hot chocolate, candy, vegetable or pancake charcuterie board. Anything else is either crudité, a platter, a plain ol’ board or a lie.
Charcuterie, pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree, is an arrangement of prepared or cured meats and cheeses, as well as other foods that complement them, artfully arranged on a flat surface, often a literal board. Charcuterie is also the term that describes the way in which meat is prepared. This includes anything from bacon and salami to pâtés and sausages. Interestingly enough, charcuterie spawned from a 15th Century French culinary movement of preserving meat, according to the culinary reference book Food Lover’s Companion.
“It refers to the products, particularly (but not limited to) pork specialties such as, rillettes, galantines, sausages, etc., which are made and sold in a delicatessen-style shops, also called a charcuterie,” the guide explains.
When refrigeration was nonexistent and the need to preserve meats was at the forefront of food culture, necessity was the mother of invention. Thus, things such as smoke, salt and dry-aging were used to alter the texture of the meat and give it stable shelf life. This day and age, the focus of charcuterie is less on the preparation of meat and more on the variety of accompaniments and the artistry of the display.
Char-cutie, shark coochie, jarcuterie — all fun ways to butcher and maim the pronunciation of the trendy food display — has made its way to the Triad. Two Triad businesses, Jam-Packed Boards in Winston-Salem and Wanderlust Boards in Greensboro, have capitalized on the growing board and platter trend. Maddie Landers of Jam-Packed is a Winston-Salem native who creates boards that are offered for local delivery and pick-up. Luiza Holland of Wanderlust Boards is originally from Brazil and partners with local businesses for board-making workshops, pop-ups as well as virtual events.
What made you decide to take the leap into the charcuterie board business?
Maddie Landers: I work in marketing for the Interior Design Society. Jam-Packed is definitely a wonderful creative outlet for me. I had been making charcuterie boards for gatherings with friends and just realized there was a real market for it. In one weekend I set up my Instagram and website and announced it to the world (aka social media).
Luiza Holland: My day job involves design, sales and marketing in the furniture industry. I’m used to traveling all over the world and I am not traveling much, because of the pandemic. I miss the travel, hence the name of my business, Wanderlust Boards. I did market research and saw the void here in the Triad.
From where do you source your ideas for boards?
LH: I have a background in design and business and have always been a creative person. I love colors and making things pretty so creating a board for me is like having a white canvas to paint or an empty room to decorate.
Maddie Landers: I get a lot of ideas from other businesses on Instagram. You would not believe how many are out there around the country! I also love just playing around with new ingredients and figuring out the best combos and layouts. It’s an art for me.
What does a typical day look like for you?
LH: My days are always different and running a small business never stops. It never ends, you never turn off, you never go “offline” but the feeling at the end of the day is so gratifying to be building something that is mine.
ML: The afternoons and evenings I spend shopping for boards, assembling boards, and delivering. Sometimes I wake up really early to assemble boards for early pick up. On days that I don’t have any orders or shopping to do, I love to go on walks with my rescue poodle and cook dinner.
How do you feel about boards that are not meat-and-cheese centric? Candy, breakfast, hot chocolate…. Are you into those?
LH: LOVE IT! I call them specialty and dessert boards. I have done many off menu boards like deconstructed salad boards, taco boards, Mediterranean boards and etc. When creating a name for the business, this is actually the reason I didn’t want to call it “charcuterie” as there is SO MUCH more to it.
ML: I am here for it. I love how creative people can be with board assembly. I actually just started offering a dessert board, and it’s been highly popular.
What do you see for yourself and your business in the future? Are boards just a fad or will this trend continue?
LH: I am so passionate about this new business that it makes all the long hours so worth it. Although charcuterie has definitely seen its trend in 2020, I think the love for cheese, meats and chocolate will always be on trend. At Wanderlust Boards, we grow and adapt with our customers and trust that with excellent product and customer service, there will definitely be a long-lasting future for charcuterie boards and beyond.
ML: I think that the demand for charcuterie boards will continue to grow. There are several businesses I know of in the Triad, and I believe there is plenty of business to go around. These days, a lot of people order a board just for themselves or their family as a fun way of treating themselves. As things with the pandemic start to improve, I think there will be continued demand for charcuterie at gatherings and events.
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