You can thank the pandemic and Instagram for the new popularity of charcuterie boards.
Stuck at home, artfully arranging displays of gourmet meats and cheeses – as well as fruit, nuts and even candy – became something to keep people occupied. At least that's how it was for Elmsford resident Nicolette Addorisio Fleming, who started featuring photos of her boards on social media and soon found herself bombarded with folks asking how to order them. An avid cook who previously had been posting recipes, she quickly found herself with a full-time business.
A recent search for "charcuterie" – pronounced shaar-koo-tr-ee – on Instagram yields nearly one million results. Once the domain of specialty European shops – the word comes from the French combination of “flesh” and cuit" (aka cooked) – its long been a culinary craft that, according to Deli Business Magazine, refers to cooked, processed, or cured cold meats and meat products. Its history dates to the 15th century when, in the time before refrigeration, meat was preserved by being hung near fire.
Whether you grew up eating antipasti at Sunday dinner (as Addorisio Fleming did) or simply liked gifting your own masterpieces to friends during the holidays (like Kayleigh Mayer of Boxed & Board in Somers), charcuterie boards are now designed to be conversation starters, something people gather around, chat about and then post to social media!
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No longer the domain of meat and cheese, these boards feature colorful versatility with everything from fresh and/or dried fruits, crudité, crackers and breads, spreads, nuts, brined items like pickles or olives, as well as something sweet; all displayed in artful, thoughtful layouts plucked out of Martha Stewart's playbook.
The boards are also customizable, meaning vegan, vegetarian, gluten and nut-free options are not only possible, but easily available.
Even better: They taste as good as they look.
Locally, there are lots of options for a sophisticated (and very Instagrammable) board, running the gamut from grazing tables to date night boxes. Mostly, they're women-owned companies started by founders who were laid off (or who saw an opportunity) during the pandemic. Many deliver outside their immediate area. A sampling follows.
Francesca Martilotta, a teacher in Rye, started her company in January 2021 after creating a board for her brother-in-law's birthday. As someone who loves food and entertaining – the Mamaroneck resident grew up in a big Italian family where her father owned three Italian restaurants – she always wanted to do something in the food industry. Making and giving charcuterie boards, she said is a perfect fit for a busy mom of three.
"What better thing to be able to order locally, pick up and bring to an event or have out when guests arrive?" she said. As for why charcuterie boards are so popular, she thinks its because they give people a variety of different options to mix, match and sample.
What makes hers different, she explained, is that along with boards, she also designs on baskets which customers can keep (although if you return it and have it refilled for a repeat event you get $10 off your second order.) She also does various themed boards, including s'mores boxes in the winter and said she's always on the hunt for the best ingredients. All Aboard also offers free delivery in a five-mile radius of Mamaroneck with most clients arranging a time to pick up. More information: 203-820-3863, all-aboard.net
Board Appetite, New Rochelle
Desiree Mandarino has been in the food service business for many years servicing town park and pool concession stands at a number of Westchester parks, as well as various school cafeterias. From 2010 to 2013 she baked and designed custom fondant cakes for family and friends. Now, as of May 2021, she's doing charcuterie boards.
"Food and art have always been a passion for me," she said. Mainly, her business has been through word of mouth with all boards customized for the occasion. In particular, she loves brie centerpieces and cheese letter cutouts which help personalize the board. "I live for a theme," she said, "and try to get as much information to match the events color scheme and decor." Local delivery within and around New Rochelle; anything over five-plus miles has an added fee. More information: instagram.com/boardappetiteny
Food has always been a passion for Rosa Ramirez, who grew up watching the Food Network. During the pandemic, she turned to charcuterie boards as a way to show off her creativity and, as she said "bring smiles to people's faces." When friends and family started asking for more, she officially started her business in 2021. Why the sudden interest? Ramirez believes it's because charcuterie boards bring people together. "Charcuterie boards are literally the talk of a gathering," she said.
Each board is customized to a customer's preference with Ramirez taking orders via text, Instagram, email and Facebook messenger. She also delivers or arranges a meeting place with customers. There is a $10 delivery cost for Rockland and northern New Jersey; delivery in Sloatsburg is free. More information: 845-270-4800, facebook.com/Boxed_Boards
When Kayleigh Mayer got a charcuterie board from a store in New Jersey that was just "meh," she joked with her friends that the ones she made as gifts for the holidays were better. "We said it would be funny if I gave it a go," said Mayer. "Two weeks later Boxed & Board was created."
That was in March 2021. Now she's known around Somers, where she's based, as the "cheese gal." Previously, her job had been in sports marketing – she worked on the NBA partnership at PepsiCo and most recently in sponsorships at the World Wrestling Entertainment – but when she was laid off, she started Boxed & Board, which most customers find through word of mouth.
Mayer, who specializes in grazing tables for weddings and large parties, said her flexibility and creativity make her boards interesting. "We take pride in providing our customers with a one of a kind creation," she said. Mayer does deliveries; $10 within 10 miles of Zipcode 10589 and an additional $10 every five miles with a $150 minimum. She also does free delivery in all of Westchester, Putnam and New York City for catering orders over $500. More information: 914-879-2949, facebook.com/boxedandboard or instagram.com/boxed_and_board
After losing her job due to the pandemic, Peekskill resident Jessica Williams turned to what she loved best: Putting together artfully arranged meats and cheese. Growing up in an Italian home, those kind of foods were always in her home and at a young age she was eating – and appreciating them. She also worked at various jobs in the restaurant world for five years so had the professional insight to, as she said: "know what makes people's food dreams come true."
Her business, which she started in August 2021 (and which is largely word of mouth), features everything from charcuterie cups to personal boxes to small, medium and large size spreads and grazing tables, with the later becoming the bulk of her business. Williams travels anywhere for grazing tables; for delivery she charges $2 per mile past a five mile radius; free within Peekskill. More information: elegantspreadsbyjess.com
Addorisio Fleming credits her grandmother, who died last year, with helping instill her love for charcuterie. Growing up in a large Italian family in Dobbs Ferry, Addorisio Fleming said antipasti, which is what they called their sampling of meats, was always part of Sunday dinner. "What I always loved is that it could be as simple as a snack plate or a large grazing platter for everyone," she said.
An avid cook, she posted recipes and food photos on her Instagram during the pandemic. And though those had plenty of engagement, she noticed that when she uploaded images of charcuterie boards the comments and likes went through the roof.
"So many people reached out asking how they could buy one, I thought, hmmm, I may have something here." And so, in December 2020, she started selling them on the side, using her grandmother's home as a base. This, while still working her sales and marketing job. But three months later – in March 2021 – she was so busy, it became evident it was time to try launching an official business. "I've always had the entrepreneurial spirit so the timing worked out," she said.
She refers to her business, Mixed by Nic, as "elevated grazing," with everything from date night boards with pickled vegetables, nuts and fruit to full grazing tables for 200 for weddings. She also offers a brie cheese "cake" and does lettering in cheese that can spell out a number or name. In addition she does "barkcuterie" for dogs. Delivery available based on location from Elmsford. More information: 914-980-1227, mixebynic.com
Yorktown Heights resident Stephanie Scala, who previously worked as a catering and event coordinator, began experimenting with charcuterie boards in April 2020 as a creative outlet and had her first sale a month later, on Mother's Day. Since she was young, she said she always knew she wanted a business of her own and while she knows many businesses come from hobbies, she said hers was more intentional. "I knew from the start that I had something worth buying, so I jumped right into it!" she said. "I have a passion for food and entertaining; it truly is my love language."
Her Valhalla shop, which opened this past May, features a variety of charcuterie boards, which she does in all sizes and varieties including dessert boards made with sweets from local bakers and brunch boards with fresh bagels. In addition, she offers grazing boards. She encourages people to come to her shop and browse as it's often a great way to get ideas for what you want. More information: 8 Broadway, 914-420-8753, rocnyboards.com
Falon McPartland and Jamie Johnson, "old Beacon friends that developed a close bond over adulting and a passion for hosting," launched Two Board Moms in early July 2021.
"We both have always put out elaborate spreads for friends and family and have been known for going overboard with food," said McPartland who now lives in Red Oaks Mill. When charcuterie started to trend on social media, the two figured it was right up their alley. So, with a little prodding from Johnson (now a Wappingers Falls resident), Falon started a food blog and then decided they had nothing to lose but to join the fray and start selling what she was posting.
"We passed ideas back and fourth the first two weeks of July and by July 16th, we had our first order," said McPartland. "We’ve been fortunate enough to have a thriving business since."
Though located in Dutchess, the two have a fair amount of business from Cold Spring and Brewster.
What makes their boards special, they say, is their attention to detail. "Our boards are a work of art; they are super colorful and creative," said McPartland. That includes items like their Mezze, a meatless board with Mediterranean flair jam packed with veggies, fruits, cheeses, dips and other accompaniments and their Oktoberfest, loaded with a jumbo baked pretzel stuffed will goodies, including pub cheese. The two deliver locally for $20; otherwise pick up at one of the women's homes or a confirmed meeting spot. More information: email@example.com or instagram.com/_twoboardmoms/
Plus don't forget
The following spots also offer charcuterie boards designed to your specifications.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Charcuterie boards big business for Rockland, Westchester entrepreneurs