VAN BUREN, Maine – For Van Buren resident Tina Belanger, every charcuterie board is a unique work of art. Some are tiny, with a modest selection of meats and cheeses. Others are four feet long, adorned with salami roses and a selection diverse enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite.
Now, Belanger is taking her skills to the next level as she prepares for the grand opening of her business, Boards by Tina, on Nov. 4.
Charcuterie boards feature an assortment of appetizers, ranging from cured meats and crackers to fruit and cheese. They are served on a wooden board during parties and social gatherings.
“It’s a beautiful little tray of goodies,” she said. “And because there are like 20 things on that little board, there is something for everybody.”
Belanger’s passion for charcuterie creation began in 2018, when she saw a board on the website Pinterest. This inspired her to make one for Christmas.
“And then I got the bug,” she said. “So after that, in 2019 and 2020, I was making them for friends and family.”
She made a Facebook page, Boards by Tina, in 2020, as COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began. She would share her boards on Facebook, and the page quickly gained interest from others in the area.
But last year, Belanger was at a crossroads. She had earned a bachelor’s degree in human services and was accepted into a graduate program for a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling.
“I got through the whole process and I got accepted,” she said. “I was trying to figure out with my husband, how am I going to make cheese boards and be a therapist?”
Belanger decided to fully commit to the charcuterie business. She formed an LLC and planned to open a store on Main Street in Van Buren. And although she did not have a space picked out right away, everything quickly fell into place and she soon found her current spot on 54 Main Street.
“Honestly, it was just luck,” she said.
Van Buren Town Manager Luke Dyer introduced Belanger to Robert Pelletier, who owns the property where the business is located.
“I told [Pelletier] this was my dream, and he was like ‘We’re gonna make this happen,’” Belanger said. “So he showed me the space, and it just went from there.”
Customers will be able to purchase smaller, pre-made boards as well as beverages, sandwiches and salads. Belanger said the business will have an online ordering platform. Boards that are medium and larger-sized will require a 24-hour notice, she said, as they take a significant amount of time to make.
A section of the store will also be used for people to pick up orders from Belanger’s daughter Ceairra’s cake decorating business, Caked by Cea.
At the moment, Belanger and her husband Ron are working together on board creation. She also has one employee who helps take care of deliveries in town.
The grand opening is set for Saturday, Nov. 4 at noon on 52 Main Street. Belanger said she is anticipating a good turnout.
“I’ve been really good to this community and, in turn, they’ve been really good to me,” she said. “I can feel the support. Everyone is so excited.”