Hopping on Board
Collective Law combines grazing boards with memorable experiences
Though charcuterie has been a culinary delicacy for centuries, artisanal food boards have grown in popularity. The French word, pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree,” is the art of preparing meat products such as bacon, salami, ham, and sausage. Over time, foodies and craft lovers alike have expanded these spreads into works of art.
LAUREN ASHLEE WILBUN, founder and owner of Collective Law (named after Wilbun’s initials) found the perfect way to combine the convenience of a grazing board with a memorable experience. Wilbun studied baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.
After graduation, she moved to Wilmington and graduated in 2018 with a degree in communication studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Wilbun interned for a local interior designer after graduation.
“That opened my love for design,” she says. She then landed a gig as a wedding coordinator for a Leland venue. There she honed her planning, organizational, and communication skills. “I learned so many life lessons, from the kitchen to the styling.”
The pandemic hit the wedding industry hard, and Wilbun was laid off in June 2020. Wilbun had been making charcuterie boards for some time.
“I’d always bring one when invited to someone’s home,” she says. And she always wanted to be her own boss. She realized her large collection of entertaining and home décor accessories, ranging from trays and bowls to pillows and blankets, combined with her culinary and events background could be a good business venture.
With limited dining options since the coronavirus pandemic began, people have been seeking options that can be ordered online and delivered.
“I thought of the picnic idea. We’re at the beach and people want to get out of the house to do something unique,” Wilbun says. She set up a small dinner party for friends. “I got such great feedback,” she says.
She launched Collective Law in October 2020, offering custom picnics, as well as made-to-order charcuterie, dessert, and brunch boards. Wilbun shops seasonal items from local grocers, taking into consideration the customer’s likes and dislikes.
“Charcuterie gives you the opportunity to try something new,” she says. Her most popular offering is half charcuterie and half dessert boards. Good design is the most important element to a grazing board, Wilbun says.
“The eye eats first. It has to be visually appealing from the way the cheese is cut to how the fruit is arranged to the accessories that accompany the board.”
Wilbun’s style isn’t formal. “I like the rustic look. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” She creates memorable and intimate al fresco dining experiences by candlelight with fresh flowers, cozy blankets, and fluffy pillows. “I plan a lot of date nights,” she says. “I also enjoy designing picnics for girl’s nights, birthdays, or baby showers.”
Setting up a picnic on the beach can be challenging but culinary school taught Wilbun how to work smarter not harder. “Chef (John) Maas had us write a paper about muda, a Japanese term for wastefulness. We were taught simplicity and efficiency. Take the least steps possible,” she says.
Her most important tool is a wagon. “If it doesn’t fit in the wagon, it’s not going,” Wilbun says with a laugh. “For a beach set up, I have to take one trip.” Picnics aren’t limited to just the beach. Wilbun also recommends a park, your backyard, or even your living room.
As Collective Law continues to grow, Wilbun hopes, in the short term, to host charcuterie classes and, in the long term, open an event venue.
“I chose the name Collective Law because this allows my business to expand. Who knows what I can offer in the future?”
While the pandemic has changed how we dine, graze boards have remained a fun and delicious way to connect with others over food.
Collective Law is one of several charcuterie board businesses that have popped up recently.
– Grateful Graze, launched by ERIKA MITCHELL in 2019, specializes in graze boxes that can be customized with specialty cheeses, cured meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, olives, nuts, and chocolate as well as dips like mustard and local honey. Boxes feed anywhere from one to eight. Graze boards and tables are also available.
– CAROLINE CIENER, otherwise known as Charcuterie Carol, also offers carefully crafted boxes and boards, as well as paper cones filled with meat, cheese, and crackers – a great COVID-friendly option. Even dogs can enjoy “barkuteries” loaded with an assortment of biscuits, bones, jerky, and chews.
– BROOKE BLOOMQUIST and ALLEGRA GRANT created Simply Social to help their clients entertain with ease. In addition to catering for private parties and in-home chef services, Simply Social’s boards are filled with all the grazing essentials, including scratch-made cheddar sables.
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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