Assembling a charcuterie board is an art for Jessica Anaya.
She lays salami slices on top of each other, then folds the row and rolls it into a rose. She slices the cheese into wedges and lays them vertically end to end, to create a zipper shape. Each empty space on a board is carefully filled with fruit, nuts and jam. When the empty spaces are filled, herbal extracts straight from his garden are carefully placed – the finishing touch to his masterpiece.
Anaya lives from her art. Simply Jam ‘n Boards, the small Hickory business she started in 2021, offers charcuterie and cheese boards, take-out charcuterie boards, and classes on creating the perfect board.
His boards bring people together for weddings, birthdays and celebrations. This connection to food is part of what drives Anaya, she said. Her interest in food comes from her own family relationships through food.
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“My family, every time we got together it was over food,” Anaya said. “I don’t have a lot of family anymore. I love when food comforts you and when family comforts you, and that’s where my passion comes from.
Her love for food is also the reason she spent time in culinary school after high school. This love eventually led her to the charcuterie boards.
At the beginning of 2021, while working part-time, she decided to open a small business next door. She had experience as a consignment store owner, owning and selling handbags. This time, she wanted to start eating again.
“Food has always been part of my background, I was like, ‘OK, I need something else to do creatively,’ that’s how charcuterie was born,” Anaya said. “I couldn’t find anyone in this field who did, so I thought I’d give it a try.”
She started by selling to her friends and family. Within months, demand grew and the business evolved. She bought a food truck to sell the charcuterie boards on the road, but the process was cumbersome. Instead, she rented a storefront with a kitchen to prep the boards.
In May, Anaya rented a small storefront at Hollar Mill. With the help of her husband, they transformed the small shop into a pastel-colored retreat with a small butcher block counter, a fridge for take-out boards and a small table with plush pink seats.
Some of its offerings include a Back 2 School box for $12, dessert platters starting at $65, and meat and cheese platters that can feed up to 20 people for $175.
The storefront was the perfect place for customers to pick up their orders. It also caught the attention of more in-person shoppers, Anaya said. In one day last week, she made sales of $1,000 and brought in two people hours away, she said.
In the year and a half since starting the business, Anaya has honed her craft. Each board is slightly different from the others. She lets her creativity run wild as she puts together a painting, she said. Anaya recently found a photo from 2014 of one of the first charcuterie boards she made. She’s come a long way since then, she says.
“That’s what I wanted to bring – something different from Hickory,” Anaya said. “It wasn’t something I saw here, and it was in a lot of other big cities. And I like to be creative, and I found that in making cheese and meat.