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CHRISTIAN COUNTY— Pictured left and above are examples of charcuterie boards made by Honey Bee Boards. Charcuterie has been revived by the traditional food movement and includes such things as cured meats, olives, nuts, fruit, crackers or small slices of bread, jelly, jam, honey and sweets.
Julie Castro talks about her new charcuterie business
CHRISTIAN COUNTY — Honey Bee Boards will provide you with beautiful, delicious and one of a kind charcuterie boards to the Central Illinois area! Each board is custom made using seasonal cheeses, meats, fruits, nuts, dips and jams. Additionally, each board comes with a jar of locally sourced honey and honey dipper as the perfect accompaniment to your board. Owner Julie Castro will make entertaining effortless for you and provide a beautiful experience for your guests.
How did you begin this business venture?
“I officially began this business in July of 2021. I have always loved to entertain, host, make food and I love the presentation of food. To me, it’s an art form. Not only do I like for things to taste good, but I love for them to look good, too. This past summer, I found myself doing more and more of that and I thought, “Gee, I wonder if I made a Facebook page if people would call me.” My daughters helped me create the page and I probably did 20 boards in the first week! From there, it really took off and I’ve probably done over 1,000 boards since July! I really wasn’t prepared to be that busy, but somehow I made it through!”
What is charcuterie?
“It is a culinary art developed from necessity; it is the way meats were preserved long before the days of refrigeration. Charcuterie has been revived and brought front and center by the traditional food movement. Today, it includes things such as cured meats, olives, nuts, fruit, crackers or small slices of bread, jelly, jam, honey and sweets, to name a few.”
What has been your most popular season so far?
“I would say between Halloween and Thanksgiving was, by far, my busiest time. The day before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day, I had 80 boards to do! I thought I was going to die! I remember thinking at 4 a.m. while sitting at my kitchen table “What have I gotten myself into?” I didn’t budget enough time for myself in those two days and I was really stressed. But, like everything else, you learn a lot from your mistakes. I certainly did!”
How do you get through those crazy, busy days?
“I have the best support system for sure. My two daughters and some really good girlfriends who offer to help have been a God-send! Somehow my girlfriends just know to come over and ask if I need help, all the while bringing over a much needed bottle of wine! My kids and their friends have helped with deliveries and I couldn’t do it without their help!”
What kinds of charcuterie boards to you offer?
“Basically, anything you can think of. I’ve done boards for weddings, showers, birthdays, bridal parties getting ready before the wedding, something to send when someone passes away, Valentine’s Day, something for kids or any occasion, really. I can either make the board and the customer keeps the board at the end, or I will come and pick it up at a later date. I also deliver within 15 miles for free. If it’s more than that, I will charge for a delivery fee. The farthest place I’ve traveled was to Indianapolis, Indiana. But, mostly, I stick to the Mt. Zion, Taylorville, and Decatur area.”
What unique boards have you made so far?
“Well, I’m making a Vegan board for someone right now. It consists of things like Hummus, veggies, fruit, nuts and plant -based meats. I’m also planning on a grazing table for a wedding this summer, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve also done some hot-chocolate boards for kids over the Christmas holidays that turned out so cute. I’m working on a grazing table for someone’s wedding this summer, too.”
Did your business get impacted by COVID at all?
“We were impacted a little bit by COVID. There were some events that were canceled for sure due to sickness. But, for the most part, we’ve been pretty busy. We do take precautions and are very careful about handling food and make sure we use gloves, wash hands frequently, etc. We are very conscious about providing a safe and healthy product for our customers. We are not making or cooking the food ourselves. It is all store bought, pre-packaged food that is purchased for the boards. In addition to charcuterie, I’ve also implemented “Jarcuterie”. This means we provide individual jars so that means less touching of food by the customers. They are individual servings. They’ve turned out really cute and are great for COVID protocols.”
How much do you charge for a charcuterie board?
“I’ve ended up charging by a per person rate. For example, if someone tells me they want a board for 10 people, I try to charge about $9 per person. I have to also start with a minimum price of $40 with delivery and they get to keep the board. Some examples of pricing are $40 for 4-6 people or $130 for service of 15 people. I will work with everyone on something that fits their budget and their style. I deliver it table ready. That means, it’s ready to go and all you have to do is set it on your table. If you want to buy a bottle of wine to go with it, that would make a great little gift for someone.”
For a really neat option as a gift, or something for a shower, party, welcome to the neighborhood, congratulations on a new baby, etc. please consider checking out Julie Castro’s Honey Bee Boards. You can find her on Facebook at Honey Bee Boards, call her at 817-266-1083 or email at: Julierogerscastro@yahoo.com. I think you’ll find her a joy to talk and work with for your special occasion.