If you read only print magazines like this one, you might miss out on some of the liveliest developments in local food. Aimee O’Connell’s Hoards of Boards Charcuterie, homebase Anderson, in Shasta County, is one example. Last December, O’Connell launched her Facebook, Instagram, and website, all designed to supply Shasta County residents with charcuterie boards. It’s been a wild ride since!
Former Humboldt County and Palo Cedro residents, the O’Connells—Aimee, husband David, and five children—counted the treats on charcuterie boards as their favorite snacks, and Aimee was no stranger to creating satisfying boards. Soon family and friends began requesting design and delivery of her boards, and then they encouraged her to start her business.
It wasn’t as if her friends urged and poof! her business appeared. Required first were a food safety training course and assessment, a commercial kitchen, business license, liability insurance, the hoarding of boards. Meeting these requirements is what first introduced O’Connell to other local food producers and small businesses, who helped her through these processes and introduced her to Sizzle Kitchen, a rentable commercial kitchen and storage space in Redding. She uses some of these people’s products on her boards.
Lulu’s Jams & Jellies, particularly jams with heat like Blazing Blackberry or Fire & Ice Pepper Jelly that go so well with cheese, get tucked in as board offerings. The discovery of these small local businesses and the owners’ helpfulness, she doesn’t talk about her origins without many compliments to them.
She takes credit, though, for the name Hoards of Boards Charcuterie. She wanted a name that rhymed, and this name devolved from the stacks of wooden boards she amassed on every free surface in her home, as she readied to launch her business. “It felt like a hoarder lived here,” she laughed. Customers can opt to purchase the wooden boards holding the spread. Or they can rent and return the boards. O’Connell also offers a small box and even single-serve cones of her cheese/meat+ creations.
Whichever option they choose, the spread includes charcuterie, cheese, fruit, crackers, honey or jelly complements, and nibbles like nuts and pretzels, chocolate and sweet pickles, all artfully arranged. O’Connell and her mom laugh about her habit as a girl of bemoaning her lack of creativity; now “food meets art” well describes Hoards of Boards Charcuterie. O’Connell says style is what distinguishes one charcuterie board maker from another. As for the food that goes into her designs, Trader Joe’s has been her go-to for the cheeses and salamis on her boards. She’s recently found a cheese and meat wholesaler that offers cheeses from small producers, and she’s arranging an account.
Customers can make special requests—she’s happily obliged those with allergies to gluten or nuts and preferences for all organic board food and dark chocolate aficionados. More recently, she has catered to customers requesting “sweets and treats” boards; she didn’t pass up one opportunity to feed birthday guests of a thirteen-year-old boy, for whom she used boxes shaped as the numbers 1 and 3 in lieu of a board.
Hoards of Boards Charcuterie have been enjoyed at offices, office retreats, baby showers, housewarmings, weddings, lovers’ picnics, SuperBowl gatherings, birthdays, Friday night movies with the family, Moseley Family Cellars’ wine tastings—the length of the list amazes, especially for a four months young business!
- View O’Connell’s “food meets art” work and order boards through Instagram, @hoardsofboards_charcuterie; Facebook, Hoards of Boards Charcuterie; and on the website hoardsofboardscharcuterie.com.
Edible Shasta-Butte is the guide to local food, dining, and gardening in Northern California’s central valley from Butte County north to the Oregon border.