Before the pandemic, Victoria Cummings and her husband, Morrice, curated private, intimate dinner and cocktail parties centered on human connection. But once COVID hit, business for Revel Events came to a halt.
“We’re not caterers but we had to pivot,” says Cummings. A charcuterie board enthusiast, she had a ton of experience creating elaborate spreads of cured meat, cheese, and veggies, for their events, a hobby she continued at home. Friends, family, and clients wanted spreads too, so she created Detroit Charcuterie Co. in February 2021 to meet the sudden demand.
But Cummings, a professor and board-certified behavioral scientist, knew that to build her side business she’d have to tap into her creative side. A self-described novice on social media— “I don’t know how to create a reel”— she sent samples of her creations to social media influencers, realtors, photography studios, and luxury picnic businesses, hoping they’d like her product and get the word out online. “People like free food,” she says. A few posts on Instagram later, business took off.
Charcuterie tables and grazing boards were hot before the pandemic, but sheltering at home sparked new demand and opportunities. Now, instead of serving as backdrops for weddings and other large events, spreads have grown in popularity as people are buying them to enjoy inside, or take to a local park. “People were sitting at home and wanted an elevated feel to the way they were eating,” says the east side Detroiter. “Now, they’re taking them outside.” They’ve evolved to include candy and pretzels (grazing boards), “barkuterie” boxes for canines with cookies shaped like dog bones and jerky strips, s’mores boards with graham crackers and various types of chocolate, and they’re also the centerpiece in the rising number of luxury picnics.
Detroit Charcuterie Co. prices start at $55 for a crudites platter and $75 for a 10-by-10 box that feeds four or five. Boxes can be picked up at Eastern Market on weekdays and in the parking lot of Detroit’s Whole Foods on weekends. Cummings caps orders at 10 to 12 a week. Delivery to an alternate location can be arranged for an additional charge.
One look at Instagram, the advertising platform of choice for charcuterie companies, and you get the popularity. Spreads of palate-pleasing fare are also aesthetically appealing. For some extra zhuzh, some boxes come with a bottle of prosecco or Champagne, chocolates, or macarons. And while charcuterie refers specifically to cold-cooked meats, boxes can be customized for vegetarians or vegans, too.
Sherri Sitkauskas started Grazie Board Co. in September 2020 after several months of unemployment. A media and event planner, she lost her job when COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, as events evaporated. The South Lyon resident found work as a legal secretary to pay the bills and pass the time, but missed the creativity of event planning, so she began creating charcuterie boards for family and friends for fun. They recommended she start a business, which she promptly did with a photo of a board as her Facebook cover shot. Business has grown via word of mouth.
She still holds on to her day job but “nights and weekends is cheese,” she says. In a slow week, she sells a board or two; in a busy season, it’s 15.
In the months since she’s been in business, she’s seen similar companies pop up one after another on Facebook and Instagram, and sees no end in sight. “It’s definitely a trend right now,” she says. Sitkauskas is capitalizing on the demand by also holding in-home classes to small groups of others who want to learn the craft.
“Everyone’s vaccinated and wants to get together with your friends and eat cheese,” she says.
Where to get an aesthetically appealing board
Detroit Charcuterie Co.
Beautifully designed grazing boxes, grazing tables, and charcuterie boards for pickup in Detroit. More information.
Grazie Board Co. (South Lyon)
Sherri Sitkauskas offers many creative options, besides cheese, including “snack boards, holiday cookie boards, fruit and veggie (with dips) boards, chocolate & fruit boards, breakfast/brunch boards, deluxe s’more boards, deluxe hot chocolate boards, candy boards, birthday boards, or larger grazing boards or tables. If you can dream it up, I am willing to help you create it!” More information.
Cute Sugar Boards (Grosse Pointe Park)
For the dog who has everything, why not get him a “barkuterie” board? Of course, if your fur baby doesn’t know how to stop grazing, you might have to monitor him. More information.
Lit Boards by JB (Detroit)
You’ll find the unexpected accouterment here, like a jam made from scratch, lemon ricotta cheese, or white truffle popcorn. More information.
Cheese to Please (Grosse Pointe)
Cheese to Please’s boards are artisan, curated with a variety of cheese, charcuterie meats, fruit, nuts, and other seasonal nibbles. All boards come with wooden serving utensils, and are delivered to your door. More information.