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Hidden Gems: Meet Dana Berbenich of Boards By Dana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Berbenich.

Hi Dana, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the magic of food and the way it brings people together. Connecting people from all different backgrounds and walks of life.

From a young age, I enjoyed being in the kitchen and as I entered adulthood I really found a passion for entertaining people at my home and feeding them! I started experimenting with charcuterie boards and immediately fell in love with making them.

What I love the most about a charcuterie board, is that when you set a board down in front of friends, family, and guests, it immediately inspires conversation and connection. I believe there is truly something special about a beautifully styled and well-balanced charcuterie board.

Charcuterie boards quickly became my signature contribution to any event a friend or family member was having, and eventually, it started spreading beyond that; I would get requests to make boards for friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends!

After some encouragement from my husband, family, and some of the people closest to me, I decided to launch Boards by Dana. In the fall of 2021, I created an Instagram page and a logo and posted a couple of pictures of my boards. I was overwhelmed by the response and quickly had orders coming in. Since then it has truly been a whirlwind. What started as an idea to sell a few boards on the weekends, has turned into a full-fledged business.

Boards by Dana is such a great creative outlet for me, I love experimenting with new techniques, learning from other veteran charcuterie artists, and constantly pushing my limits. I love when a customer challenges me with a custom request and the process that goes into incorporating a certain theme or design.

With Boards by Dana, I really feel like I have tapped into my passion, and sharing that with the community has been so special to me, and has led me to make so many great connections!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
In a short period of time, my business has grown more than I could have ever imagined and for that, I am so grateful, but it has not necessarily been a smooth road. I work full-time as an Account Executive for a Fragrance & Beauty distributor, so it has been tough to navigate balancing both my full-time job and running a business.

Earlier this year, I found myself becoming overwhelmed – I was working insane hours and felt like I needed to find a better balance in my life. I stopped taking orders on Monday & Tuesdays and decided I would schedule one weekend a month where I wouldn’t take orders at all. It’s helped a bit, but my ultimate goal is to take Boards by Dana full time and focus only on growing and running the business, and expanding our availability and services.

Another challenge was finding commercial kitchen space to prep in. Having had little formal experience & training in the restaurant/food industry, I wasn’t familiar with many of the requirements of operating a charcuterie business, one of those being that you have to hold a food license and do all of your prep out of a commercial kitchen.

I started this business from my home and enjoyed the convenience it offered, I quickly learned that I would need to find commercial kitchen space if I wanted to operate this business legitimately. When I started my search for a commercial kitchen rental, I was hoping to find a shared kitchen/culinary incubator where I could rent hourly or monthly as my business grew.

However, that proved nearly impossible to find in my area, and after making endless amounts of calls I almost gave up. The only space I could find was far too expensive for a business like mine that was just starting out.

In early 2022, I finally connected with a caterer that was willing to rent her kitchen space out to me on a monthly basis at a reasonable rate and in late February I was able to get my catering license.

One of my goals for Boards by Dana is to open up my own space with a kitchen big enough for me to share with other small food businesses that are trying to get their businesses off the ground!

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Boards By Dana?
Boards by Dana is a fully licensed and insured charcuterie catering business based out of Bel Air, MD. We specialize in hand-crafted high-quality charcuterie boards & boxes, grazing tables, and catered charcuterie experiences.

We also offer public and private charcuterie workshops – our workshops are tons of fun and one of our favorite parts of the business because they allow us to connect with the community and share our love of cheese and food styling!

I think what really sets us apart from others is that I’m a true “foodie” and that comes through in the boards and tables that I curate. I am selecting ingredients that I have sampled myself, and only using products that I truly love!

On a weekly basis, I am making trips to anywhere from 3-5 grocery stores/specialty shops and to the farmers market to find the freshest and highest quality ingredients to include on my boards! I get excited when I discover new yummy items to include on my boards and love to hear the feedback from customers when they try them out!

Each charcuterie creation is truly a work of art and perfect for all occasions. We welcome custom orders including grazing tables, themed boards, dessert boards, brunch boards & more!

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
For me, Instagram has been an incredible tool that I have used to launch and market my business as well as to network with other charcuterie artists and businesses. I owe much of my success to the connections I have made via Instagram and other social media platforms.

I moved to Maryland from Long Island in late 2018 and did not know many people in my area before launching Boards by Dana. Instagram allowed me to connect with people locally and network with other local businesses. I follow and communicate with charcuterie businesses across the world on Instagram – it’s really the coolest thing! I am also part of a charcuterie entrepreneur group on Facebook.

These social media platforms have allowed me to share with and learn from other professionals in my space – we discuss everything related to our business and are able to learn from each other’s successes and challenges. It’s so amazing to be part of this wonderful “cheese community!”

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Megan Rigdon Photography

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