The Art of Charcuterie Boards
Creativity comes through a variety of mediums. Writers put their thoughts into words. Artists put their imaginations into paintings. Musicians reveal their deep emotions through melodies. Senior Elizabeth Madarang, however, expresses her creativity through food and cooking. During quarantine, Madarang has utilized her time and love for food to start Cured Eats, a charcuterie board business.
Charcuterie is the arranging and preparing of cured meats, cheeses and finger foods on a platter or board. Some ingredients that Madarang likes to use on her board are cured meats, cheeses, nuts, bread, fruit, crackers, jams and green herbs for visuals. Madarang was first introduced to charcuterie boards during a vacation to Europe.
“Pre-COVID, I travelled to Spain, France and Italy; the food was truly exceptional and memorable. Ever since then, my passion for food, cooking and baking has grown,” Madarang said. “My first impression [of a charcuterie board] was, ‘I love the layout; I love the visuals.’ When I tasted it, it was amazing because you get to assemble your own bite and you [can taste] different bursts of flavors. I like that it’s kind of like lunchables, but classier. A perk is that you can devour it; you can taste the colors, while also admiring its visuals.”
Growing up, Madarang developed a strong passion for food, influenced by food channels such as The Great British Baking Show. In her younger years, Madarang was primarily into baking, but she found an interest in cooking as she grew older.
“I’ve been cooking every day and binging cooking and baking shows. It’s inspired me a lot to want to make stuff like gourmet [foods],” Madarang said. “[My interest in cooking] sparked more as I grew older because when I was little I was more into baking and I wasn’t really sure on what to cook. I feel like it’s much more complicated than baking.”
In January 2020, Madarang began to assemble her own charcuterie boards, and she posted pictures of them on social media in which she received many compliments on her work. These encouraging comments inspired her to start her operation selling charcuterie boards. In July 2020, Madarang uses Instagram as her business’ platform where she can be found @curedeats, selling charcuterie boards for 45 dollars each. Madarang created this name while experimenting with a play on words for charcuterie boards and cured meats. Cured Eats also offers free delivery to surrounding areas of Walnut such as Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights and West Covina.
“I got plenty of positive feedback [on my charcuterie boards], and it just made me happy because I was like ‘Oh wow people are interested in this,’” Madarang said. “It was pretty heartwarming [to see] a smile on other people’s faces. It was just a great way to utilize my time during quarantine.”
Because charcuterie originated from France, it calls for a more acquired taste, which is why Madarang’s business is mainly marketed towards adults. However, many people her age have shown great interest in these boards as well. Madarang has had more than 10 customers since her business started.
“[Many people] are interested in these charcuterie boards,” Madarang said. “[People my age] like it. I was surprised because I thought I was the only one of a handful who likes these kinds of things, but [others] enjoy it as well.
Madarang receives orders Mondays to Thursdays and delivers them on weekends. On the day of delivery, Madarang makes these charcuterie boards at least an hour and a half prior to delivery. Depending on the size of the charcuterie board, Madarang takes about 15 minutes to an hour making each board. She purchases ingredients from wholesale stores and platters from online shops. Once Madarang finishes the orders, she delivers them for free to the customer’s home. Since Los Angeles County is still in quarantine, Madarang follows safety protocols and wears gloves and a mask while making and delivering these boards.
“I enjoy sharing my passion and creativity,” Madarang said. “Art is a very broad term. Instead of painting [or] drawing, I like to share my art through food.”
Madarang has acquired many skills while starting her own business. By talking to customers and promoting her business frequently, Madarang has improved her communication skills and professionalism. She has also gained editing skills while designing graphics for her business’ logo and templates. Additionally, Madarang has learned organization skills and time management skills through making charcuterie boards and managing a business.
“Patience has taught me to maintain my composure and keep me calm in times of frustration and stress. With it being my last year of high school and the season of college applications, I have learned to be patient with myself,” Madarang said. “Time management and organization come hand in hand. I feel like life needs to have some structure but also living outside the lines. I think it’s crucial to manage your time wisely especially with the circumstances of distance learning.”
Through her experience of making charcuterie boards, Madarang has created her own personal criteria. She finds it necessary for the charcuterie board to look neat and consist of several different flavors: salty, sweet and spicy. According to Madarang, visuals also play an important role when making a charcuterie board – adding colorful ingredients like fruit and herbs help brighten up the spreads so they appear less monotone.
“I love contrasting the vibrant colors and shapes. I enjoy making charcuterie boards because it’s like art. Your creativity is projected through food, and it’s on a board,” Madarang said. “I think it’s amazing to see your imagination expressed on a board and through food. I’ve always had a passion for food. You know when you do things you enjoy, and you can’t tell how quickly the time has passed? That’s what [making charcuterie boards] is for me.”
By Freda Lei, In depth editor
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Madarang