For Lisa Converse, owner of Charcuterie Element, it all started with the gift of a charcuterie board book.
“I created a few for our family for the next few holidays,” said Converse. “Then one night I couldn’t sleep, and I just came up with the idea that maybe it was something people would pay for.”
Through Charcuterie Element, based in Watertown, Converse puts her time into prepping produce and cheese so hosts don’t have to.
“This charcuterie business was created with convenience in mind for the customer to allow more time for them to entertain,” said Converse.
“People always have fun when they get together and share food.” –Lisa Converse
Social media has been a strong support and influence for her boards.
“When I started, I had no idea how popular it was,” she said. “People are so creative and so willing to share their ideas.”
Converse shares her own ideas and a look into being “head cheese” of her own business.
I STARTED CHARCUTERIE ELEMENT BECAUSE… who doesn’t love a fancy meat and cheese tray? It’s a fun way to share a meal and try new things. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and it’s a creative outlet for me.
“I am a pet groomer. I have been doing that for 25 years, and charcuterie is actually my part-time gig. It almost doesn’t seem fair that I have two fun jobs.” –Lisa Converse
THE BEST PART OF MY JOB IS… I love being creative and having the freedom to make every order unique. I also love when a customer says, “Surprise me,” and I get a chance to take an idea and run with it.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PROJECTS HAS BEEN… I had the opportunity to create charcuterie in champagne flutes for a wedding. That was an idea that was swimming in my head, and when the bride asked for ideas, she loved it!
MY FAVORITE ITEMS TO INCLUDE ARE… unique cheeses that people would never think to try on their own. I also like to give people the option of some flavor combinations that are truly delicious.
WHAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT MY BUSINESS… everything is one of a kind, so no two boards are the same. My best helper is my husband who built my commercial kitchen and tests all cheese products. My friends and family send unique ideas that help inspire me. It’s a family effort.
“Whether a family kitchen or a special event, when people are sharing something special like a unique charcuterie board, memories are made.” –Lisa Converse
SOMETHING I’M DOING RIGHT NOW THAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT… during the upcoming holidays, there are always new specialty foods and candies available to make the boards exciting. I have a couple large graze boards in the next few months and several holiday parties.
WHEN I WALK AROUND DOWNTOWN WATERTOWN, ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO STOP BY IS… The Goss Opera House.
I LOVE TO GRAB A BITE OR DRINK AT… a local brewery. When we travel, we love to search for craft breweries. My first charcuterie board was at one of our favorite breweries here in town, Watertown Brewing Co.
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Find Charcuterie Element on Facebook.com/CharcuterieElement
Follow @CharcuterieElement on Instagram for more spreads and updates
Boards can include all types of meats, familiar and artisan cheeses, unique twists on favorite snacks, like blue cheese jalapeño popcorn or lemon almonds, as well as classic combinations like Brie and honey. Dessert trays are filled with decadent bite snacks and combinations of salty and sweet. The most popular board is the Date Night spread.
Charcuterie Element is open to requests.
THE HARDEST LESSON I’VE LEARNED IN THIS PROFESSION WAS… making sure I met all the health department requirements. We received a perfect score, but initially it was a bit of a challenge to make sure all the state and city requirements were met.
MY FAVORITE PLACE TO GO FOR INSPIRATION IS… social media; it has been a great place to find ideas upon ideas, whether it be different cheeses, ways to style a board, or marketing ideas.
ONE THING I LOVE ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA IS… by all means the people. We are about family, food, and experiences. Ultimately people want to build memories with family and friends, and food connects us all.
THE MOST UNDERRATED ITEM ON A CHARCUTERIE BOARD IS… Brie, especially with honeycomb.