As we work with our customers to find opportunities to keep menus fresh and profitable, we see a wonderful opportunity with charcuterie and cheese.
A well-rounded cheese & charcuterie menu has a variety of cheeses from soft to hard in texture and mild to bold in flavor. Being both dynamic and complimentary in taste, they connect the guest to the terroir in which the cheese and charcuterie was crafted in. Providing the right accouterments is an essential addition to any board. By pairing opposite flavors of cheese with accouterments, you can create an umami taste.
Cheese can also be an effective marketing tool for upselling complimentary beverages that pair well with what you are serving. Whether that is a fine wine or craft beer, this addition will enhance the cheese and charcuterie board experience.
It’s all about the pairing. Be sure to provide clear communication on pairing suggestions with a variety of appropriate wines and spirits. Provide a selection with depth and breadth so the guest has a varietal selection of beverages to pair with their cheese and charcuterie as well as their palate preferences. This is a great proven upsell technique to incorporate on your menu.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on continual emergence of craft beer to pair with your cheese and charcuterie menu. The craft beer culture has been involved with cheese and charcuterie as long as I can remember and it continues to experience a lift. This is very evident in many of Sid Wainer & Son’s brewery and brewpub partners. We consistently are approached to consult our craft beer friends on developing impactful cheese and charcuterie board selections to pair well with their brews.
We have recently launched a brewery and brewpub specialty program named Sid Wainer On Tap due to the high demand we receive from the brewery segment for cheese, charcuterie, and accompaniments. Whether a brewery or brewpub, the cheese and charcuterie board movement is strong and you can find an option on almost any brewery or brewpub menu. The bitterness of hops and the savory elements of cheese and charcuterie pair excellently!
As you develop you plan, it is important to distinguish the difference between an a la carte approach and a catering strategy. We find with our customers that catering strategy requires a structured and streamlined approach. There is a logistics focused food plan in place for the menu and the experience in which you want to provide the epicure. There is usually little waste and you maximize ingredient yield and profit. On the a la carte menu, you are offering a selection of one-off specialties for the guest to create their own experience. The importance of telling the story and flavor profile plays a part in the selection. This is a much more free-spirited approach to dining and can prove to be a lucrative one. However, you may have to repurpose the a la carte menu items that do not get ordered to avoid waste.
A key to ensuring the success of this strategy is an understanding of some of the newer trends in cheese. At Sid Wainer & Son we always have our finger on the pulse of what’s hot. America’s farmstead cheese producers continue to increase the quality and uniqueness of their products. Right now, marinated cheeses, cloth bound cheddars, and unique flavor infused cheeses will continue to be on the rise.
You can also expect craft beer infused or washed cheeses to continue to grow in popularity parallel to the craft beer culture boom. Flavor infused butter is also popping up on our radar and we think there will be some unique innovation in that category.
With the on-going growth in Farm/Local to Table, we have seen a surge in domestic charcuterie production, which has made sourcing quality charcuterie from food service providers more convenient for restaurants. Although, the high demand for authentic imported charcuterie is certainly there and not going away. We are seeing more and more charcuterie with clean ingredients, avoiding any artificial preservatives and additives. Artisanal handcrafted charcuterie is booming on the local level where producers are practicing responsible and sustainable quality production initiatives, such as utilizing heritage hogs and humanely-raised and handled livestock.
Our relationships with local farmers and artisans are very strong. We have an extensive network we partner with to bring quality local cheese and charcuterie to our customer base. Local is not just a trend, it is a way of dining and we will continue to see the demand for more local and hyper-local as we progress into the future. Our valuable relationships with local farms allows us to bring local cheese and charcuterie to the market in the fastest, freshest, safest way possible for our customers to enjoy.
It is also important to keep an eye on trends in flavor profiles. Savory ingredients continue to be on the rise, as savory is certainly one of the most prominent palate characteristics in the charcuterie segment. You will continue to find uniquely crafted charcuterie products that offer a diverse delivery of flavors as local artisans continue to push the tastemaker
Many of our restaurant and hospitality customers have also asked us to help them create solutions for vegetarian or gluten free charcuterie boards to serve the ever changing needs of their dining patrons.
So at Sid Wainer & Son, we have curated a global network of quality artisans who are masters of their craft. Whether it is charcuterie, cheese, or the world’s finest olive oils, we have the capability to deliver what you need. That includes vegetarian and gluten free charcuterie options. If we don’t have what you are looking for, we will find it for you.
Among the other trends to keep an eye on is the re-emergence of a “cheese” course. We are seeing a version of a cheese course on most menus. In fact, our cheese segment continues to grow as a specialty food and is a leading category. The cheese course provides an easy add on to a menu for any time of the day. With family-style sharing becoming more popular, cheese plates continue to find a home on many menus.
As you look at the P&L side of creating a cheese and charcuterie strategy it is important to keep an eye on the recent tariff issue. Tariffs have influenced the motivation of local producers to get into the handcrafted segment of cheese and charcuterie. You will continue to see the rise of these producers stateside. Recent new proposed tariffs on European goods would potentially hike up the tariff on imported European cheese and charcuterie that in return would impact the food costs of imported specialty goods such as cheese and charcuterie.
The most common economical factor with cheese and charcuterie is on the regulatory side. Regulations on cheese and charcuterie products can sometimes be time consuming to navigate. With certain restrictions on aging minimums and protected geographies, as well as consortium involvement, cheese and charcuterie can be more arduous than one expects, at times. So our mission at Sid Wainer & Son is to do that homework for our customers so that you can stay focused on serving your patrons.
Our goal is to help you tell a story to your customers. We help you build a cheese & charcuterie board that is an experience. Be sure that you are communicating the details of the cheese and charcuterie you are serving. If possible, use signage or menus to provide geography, craftsmanship details, claims, and any additional information on locality if appropriate. Cheese and Charcuterie should be presented in an elevated fashion and come with pairing suggestions as well as bountiful accompaniments that provide additional layers of flavor that complement the board.
We are always here to help with guidance in these areas and are happy to do so. We welcome all of our current and future customers to our headquarters in New Bedford, MA to meet with our cheese and specialty food experts on menu and board development.
You can also call us at 800.423.8333 or log on to SidWainer.Com to request more information on menu development and cheese and charcuterie board design.