Hosting a party but not sure what to serve the guests along with that bottle of Prosecco? A two-month-old New West business has the answer laid out for you on a charcuterie board.
Melissa Bredo, a Queen’s Park resident, founded Cheese&Crackers A Charcuterie Co. as a part-time venture in September 2022. A dental assistant during the day, Bredo spends evenings cutting cheese and cured meats, and arranging them in charcuterie boxes for clients.
Besides selling her products at the local restaurant, Pacific Breeze Winery, Bredo also offers charcuterie boxes for pick-up in New West — be it for a couple of persons, or larger groups at occasions such as a “100th birthday celebration”, or an “engagement function.”
“I always had a love for charcuterie boards. For any family function, I was always the one that was put in charge of doing that,” she said over a call. “I love eating them too. So I decided to start this small little company.”
Balancing dentistry and charcuterie
Bredo has been exposed to the art of charcuterie all her life. Growing up, she saw her mom bring out an assorted mix of cheese, crackers and meats everytime they had company.
Later, she chose to get into the service industry — “working for Fairmont Hotels, and for some local restaurants, both in Calgary and Vancouver” — where she was exposed to the trends in food and beverages for 15 years.
All that experience pushed her to start a business offering specialized charcuterie boxes. But before she took the plunge, she pivoted her career to one far from anything food.
“I always had an interest in the medical field. I don't do good with blood or broken bones though. I wasn't going to be a nurse. So I thought why not try dental?”
Bredo became a certified dental assistant four years ago.
Though she juggles dentistry and charcuterie today, eventually, she said, “I'd like to see it (her charcuterie business) kind of take over as my full-time job because I have a two-year-old (daughter); and I'd like to be able to stay home with her and have the flexibility with my work-life schedule.”
She currently offers individual charcuterie boxes, ranging from small ($60), medium ($100), large ($150) and extra large ($195). Small is for two to three people, medium for four to six, large for six to 10, and extra large for 10 to 20, she said.
The boxes can be customized, and include vegan and gluten-free options, she said.
Customers can either order one of the boxes, or reach out to Bredo with a ballpark number of guests they want to serve — “And I kind of work with them from there to give my recommendations on what I think would be good for the amount of people that they have.”
What does the charcuterie box include?
Each box has meats such as prosciuttos, Hungarian peppered salamis and more; cheeses (“the smoked cheddar boxes have been a big hit”), local B.C. fruits and preserves.
“And I've been trying to go to local bakeries with requests for new breads that I put in them. When the (New West) Farmer's Market was going on, I tried to get a lot of stuff from there too,” she said.
“I've made some candied cranberries to put in the boxes as well,” she added.
But a charcuterie box is not all about what’s in it, it’s also about how well it’s presented, said Bredo. In her boxes, you would find elements specific to the occasion — a card for birthdays, or a box of chocolates for the holiday season; not to mention the customary sprigs of rosemary leaves, or baby’s breath (during summer) to add a dash of freshness.
Bredo doesn’t make her own cheese or cured meat, but she does spend time curating the best of them for her charcuterie board.
“I try to taste-test cheeses with my girlfriends. We host quite a few events in our house with family and friends. So I always like to try out different samples of cheeses and get feedback on how they like it.”
As far as the feedback from the New West residents goes, she said, “I honestly am so happy with the local support that I've been getting.”
“I've heard lots of people say that they were waiting for something like this. So I'm excited for that.”
Those interested in picking up a charcuterie box can reach out to Melissa Bredo on Instagram, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Smaller orders need a notice of two to three days, and larger orders, a week. Bredo offers free local delivery, and recently started offering gift cards as well.