By Darren Lum
Come down Red Umbrella Road to a well-appointed and warm home where you’ll find the specialty catering company, Prosciutto Brie and Charcuterie, which produces boxes of beautifully cut and arranged delectables that are a feast for the eyes as well as the discerning palate.
The new Minden business was started by Sandra Slauenwhite-Box in November and is gaining a following of fans according to the local business woman, who has decades of experience in starting and operating dental practices.
Slauenwhite-Box said she started this business because of a passion for fine food and gourmet dining, calling herself a self-professed “foodie.”
“I’ve always had a passion, a real passion for food,” she said.
She adds at 57 she is not old, but it was time to try something new after a lifetime in the dental practice business.
“Still, you kind of go: Life is short. I want to spend time doing things I really, really love. And I have loved dental for a long time, but look at what I get to look at,” she said, standing in her home. “I’m home in my kitchen that I love. People are excited and happy when they come to see me, and I’ve made somebody happy, and for me when I’ve made somebody happy that makes me happy,” she said.
She adds the catering business is not going to replace her involvement with her dental business for now.
From the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the literal definition of the French origin word charcuterie is cooked cold meats. However for foodies such as Slauenwhite-Box the charcuterie board is much more with its blend of colours and finely cut shapes of exotic ripe and dried fruits, fresh vegetables with crunch, rich cheeses, savoury meats, pickles, olives, nuts, and all topped off with a drizzle of honey.
Although the charcuterie grazing boxes for one to eight people start from $25, there is value in each box related to the quality of the food and special attention to the details, which provide customers in experiencing diverse tastes and tantalizing textures.
“The charcuterie boxes are not pricey for what they are,” Slauenwhite-Box said. “What everyone says is the fun part of the box is that there are so many different things, and they can sit and grab a glass of wine.”
She also adds personal touches such as home made sun-dried tomato hummus and her jellies such as peach and pepper, which goes with fine cheeses.
Slauenwhite-Box said the key to a good box is variety.
“When you have 26 or 27 [ingredients] and that’s why they’re called grazing boxes. They’re meant to be the style of eating [where] you wouldn’t have a meal that night. You literally would sit and pick. You want your meats, your cheeses, your nuts, the fruits. The dried fruits go really nice with that. All of those things when you research charcuterie these are all the things that go together,” she said. “There’s even a couple little squares of Lindt [chocolate] in there at the end. You want people to go, ‘Oooh, what’s that? I’ve never had that.’”
She adds some of the ingredients that she’s introduced to customers has included fresh figs and pomegranate.
As far as accommodating people’s allergies and intolerances, she said, it can be done, but it’s worth noting her kitchen isn’t nut free, and there is likely a higher cost. She encourages clients to provide at least a week for her to make these boxes.
Charcuterie boxes aren’t the only thing. She can also create grazing tables for 10 or more and specialty boxes such as the Hot Chocolate Bomb box, or Stargrazer: The Ultimate Movie or Game Night Snack Box with sweet and salty treats, including popcorn and chocolates. The specialty catering company offers appetizing experiences through charcuterie boxes, specialty boxes and gourmet grazing tables for special occasions, as thank yous or just a night in for a movie.
After her experience during Christmas and Valentines Day when there was a lot of orders, she expects more requests for orders this coming spring and summer so she has lined up another person to help fill orders. She remembers how she fulfilled 57 orders over four days for Valentines Day, she adds.
Her business experience in owning dental practices helped with starting Prosciutto Brie and Charcuterie, but part of the inspiration is related to meeting the owner of a charcuterie catering business while out west last year. That woman, she said, was excited to share how she started.
“She really helped me figure out what I needed to organize. I love it so what do I have to lose?”
She’s been surprised by who already knows about charcuterie.
“I guess I would have assumed that it would be some cottagers, some retired people. It’s not. It’s probably the 30 to 40 age group that are like, ‘This is so cool. I’m getting this like once a month.’ I have a lot of repeat customers that are in a different age bracket than I thought it would be.”
She added that her adult children and niece informed her “it’s the in-thing for them” to order and enjoy.
Slauenwhite-Box hopes she can help to bring people together and make them smile.
“Even if it’s just with their spouse for now or within their home or whatever, it’s their fun night. I wish to bring that kind of happiness to people,” she said.
Pre-order what you want through her website prosciuttoandbriecharcuterie.ca or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or message through WhatsApp. Orders can be picked up at her 1132 Red Umbrella Road, Minden Hills location or at Abbey Gardens during their regular business hours.
Her operating hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.