Datassential reported in 2022 that charcuterie boards were expected to grow 25 percent on U.S. menus across the next four years. The trend makes sense—if diners are craving experiences with every meal, then charcuterie boards are the ultimate shareable menu item.
“After two years of isolation and social distancing, we’ve seen shareable items have been growing increasingly popular,” says Caleb Taylor, corporate chef with Boar’s Head. “Diners are no longer just going out for a good meal—they want a great dining experience. Charcuterie adds in this element of theater with some dramatic elements—like great visual intrigue—while delivering on being shareable and flavorful.”
This slideshow will investigate some other reasons why charcuterie boards are beginning to take off—and why it’s great news for chefs.
According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry report from February, 89 percent of operators cite higher labor costs as a significant challenge.
Given that context, low-labor menu items help operators achieve profitability. For example, fully-cooked proteins are a great centerpiece to a traditional charcuterie board. Boar’s Head offers a host of fully-cooked proteins—as well as cheeses and condiments—that can inspire a variety of charcuterie components with very little operational complexity. Some fan-favorite, fully-cooked charcuterie proteins include Boar’s Head® Serrano Ham, Italian Roasted Ham, Prosciutto di Parma, and Chorizo Serrano.
“These are consistent, reliable products,” Taylor says. “They are a great way to lower labor costs—and also a way to leverage entry-level labor to execute a menu item that doesn’t require training them how to cook chicken to the perfect temperature, for example.”
The Association’s State of the Industry report also says 92 percent of operators cited higher food costs as a significant challenge. “Operators are trying to carry that cost over to the patron,” Taylor says. “You can raise menu prices, but you can’t increase them that high, so your margins are going to be tighter. One way to get around that is designing your menu to emphasize the cross-utilization of products.”
Charcuterie boards are a great way to cross-utilize SKUs and create profitable, high-margin menu items. Consider Boar’s Head® Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Curd, which can be used in sandwiches, on pizza, or to elevate a charcuterie board.
“In addition to cross-utilizing ingredients, I talked about that theatrical element—things that create a lot of visual excitement,” Taylor says. “You can have a tableside-built charcuterie board—there are all these little ways to make diners feel like they are getting a lot of value without adding to your food costs.”
Using the fundamental principles of charcuterie spreads, boards have exploded into new territories—things like dessert and butter boards are now trending. Boar’s Head promotes further ideas: hummus boards, brunch boards, or BBQ boards can all be new and exciting ways to showcase a variety of trends.
Boards have become an area where chefs can tap into their creative side and tell patrons a story by leaning on ingredients that do the talking for them.
“Stories are the best way to engage with guests and nourish their spirit through a passion for food,” says Chef Curtis Hawk, culinary development manager with Boar’s Head Brand. “For example, Boar’s Head® Spring Truffle Pecorino is made with sheep’s milk sourced from Tuscany and studded with Italian truffles for slightly sharp, intense truffle flavor. That can ‘wow’ customers and transport them to the Tuscan landscape.”
One requirement for charcuterie boards is consistent, flavorful, quality products. There’s no place for ingredients to hide when patrons are often sampling the ingredients on their own. This is yet another area where Hawk and Taylor believe Boar’s Head® products give operators an opportunity to stand out.
“I really think the biggest thing you get with Boar’s Head® meats, cheeses and condiments is 115 years of consistent, reliable results,” Taylor says. “An operator is able to use that to their advantage by getting something quality from a brand with a time-honored reputation.”
For more on Boar’s Head Brand’s charcuterie-friendly ingredients, visit the company’s website.