RACINE — Cheese, meat, crackers.
They’re a staple at just about every picnic. But Emmie Boedecker, who owns Boards by Emmie LLC, wanted to elevate them.
So, she started making charcuterie boards, spreads — typically on a wooden board, or a plastic one depending on the occasion — chock-full of specialty cheeses, slices of meat like prosciutto or salami, crackers, fruits and even artisanal jellies, honey and chocolate.
“Who doesn’t love an adult Lunchable?” Boedecker said as she rolled up a slice of salami and placed it perfectly on one of her boards; the more rolls she put on there, the more it looked like a bouquet of roses. “Because it’s really what they are.”
Boedecker makes individual boards, boards for two, boards for larger gatherings and boards for special occasions — “Pretty much any board you can think of,” she said.
Currently, she sells boards out of her home or at Farmer’s Market @2210, 2210 Rapids Drive. Boards by Emmie LLC also recently became the first house caterer for Social on Sixth, an upcoming community venue space that plans to open later this month in Downtown Racine.
More than just a trend
Charcuterie boards swept social media as a trend in early 2020. A search for #charcuterie on Instagram yields about 1.5 million posts. @charcutemmie, Boedecker’s Instagram account, boasts about 11,200 followers as of this week.
But beyond the fancy feeds of perfectly placed prosciutto and provolone, Boedecker said she wants to do her part in helping other local businesses and the community in general.
Besides using a few locally sourced products in her boards like honey and jelly, Boedecker hosted a fundraiser last spring in the initial stages of the pandemic. Boedecker raised about $2,000 to donate lunches to HALO, Racine’s County’s biggest homeless shelter, and the Racine Family YMCA.
“I had this idea of making lunches for kids when COVID hit, because I was like, ‘That breaks my heart. They’re gonna be home and hungry,’” Boedecker said.
Since Boedecker began her business in December 2019, she has made about 800 different boards. She is joining other charcuterie board makers across the country whose businesses are flourishing, despite the pandemic, because of their ability to be delivered and gifted safely.
“We did so many contactless drop-offs and pickups for families who couldn’t see each other,” Boedecker said.
A mom getting help from Mom
Boedecker is a single mom of two young children, juggling taking care of them and starting her own small business. But she is not alone; she enlists the help of her mom, Wendy Contreras, to work on boards and help with the kids from time to time.
Contreras said it has been interesting to watch her daughter’s business grow, and to be a part of it.
“It’s gratifying,” Contreras said. “The first time I saw one of her boards, I just loved it.”
Boedecker has a background in cooking, baking and crafting — “I’ve done it all since I was little” — but she credits her children as her motivation to start a business.
“I want my kids to be able to look back and say, ‘My mom ran her own business while taking care of us,’” Boedecker said. “And I want to make myself proud. It’s very rewarding.”
Joan Roehre, who owns Social on Sixth and has partnered with Boedecker as a house caterer, said the pair have already sat down a few times to concoct ideas.
“By the time we left, I already had a slate of menu ideas from her,” Roehre said of one of their meetings. “She’s got it. If any 25-year-old woman can inspire people, it’s Emmie.”