For most of her life, certified yoga and meditation instructor Meredith “Merry” Masson had worked in some form of the hospitality business, whether restaurants, grocers, delis or bakeries. It wasn’t until 2020, though, when yoga studios temporarily shut down, that Masson combined her two loves — yoga and food — and eventually launched Made by Merry NY. It was her “way to kind of maintain this meditative practice,” she says.
Being home with the kids, she found herself creating all types of boards — desserts, taco, crudités — any type that she could tuck away into the fridge as long as, she says, she and the kids could “sit there and be present."
Through Made by Merry NY, charcuterie mavens can get together at one of Masson’s in-home or public workshops where she shows attendees how to assemble a board, gives the 411 on tablescaping and offers advice on tea, whiskey and other beverages that pair well with the boards created. They vary in size depending on event, but will no doubt feed a minimum of at least two to three people.
Felicia Nicholas, 46, of Long Beach, who loves to entertainment, recently attended Masson's workshop at Rockville Centre's The Sanctuary Within. "I was going into it blindly," she says, after receiving the class as a Christmas gift from her brother. In the end, Nicholas says she not only learned how to build a presentable board, but "how to make florets out of smoked Gouda. That was an interesting tool to learn" and "how to cut fruit a specific way — the kiwis, the oranges, how to make them look appealing and presentable on the board. And just placement, really."
In terms of the bits and pieces on the board, “you are the controller" Masson says. Her workshops last at least two hours and can double as experiences where you can tack on passed hors d'oeuvres and even a wine pairing demonstrated by a One Hope Winery rep (prices start at $125 for a basic workshop and top out at $185 for the passed hors d'oeuvres and wine additions). For home sessions, Masson requires a 10-person minimum.
“We use all of our senses to enjoy the charcuterie board. We don’t just use our mouth to eat it,” she says, adding that “food is meant to nourish the body, but it’s also meant to nourish your soul, to nourish your being. And it brings people together."
Sharyn Gitter, 42, of Commack knows that all too well. She also attended Masson's class at The Sanctuary Within. “I was expecting to learn creative ways to cut fruit and how to make a pretty presentation when serving people, when you’re entertaining at your home," she says. That's exactly what she got from the experience. "It's like food art," she says, adding that the two-hour workshop saw the product disappear within minutes when it was brought home. The event, which kicked off with chakra meditation, added a unique twist to the class, Gitter says. "What I liked about it, there was no pressure. If you didn't want to do" something, you didn't have to, "but if you wanted more, there was more for you."
Here are three other Long Island businesses that are bringing people together via meat and cheese:
Socuterie New York
Two “very artsy and creative” friends, Lisa Albert and Jill Rosenblatt, are behind this brand that offers traditional charcuterie boards, as well as sweet (candy, s’mores, hot chocolate) and vegetable-based ones (crudités). The women hit the road for public and private workshops, where they teach charcuterie-board enthusiasts to DIY their own meat and cheese board. During each hourlong class, Albert leads a discussion on how to create salami roses, prosciutto ribbons and the like, with Rosenblatt taking over to discuss the cheese — which to use, how to cut it and so on. The duo also offer tips on different ways to style the board, which tools to use and which wine pairs best with each cheese. Boards are created on a 12x10-inch palm leaf platter that feeds up to four and costs $100. Kosher, vegetarian and vegan options available. Six-person minimum to book. More info: Based out of Brookville; 516-987-8863; instagram.com/socuterienewyork
Charcuterie & Things
A self-proclaimed “big Trader Joe’s fan,” owner Kim Charon says she first started making charcuterie boards with products she favorited from the grocery giant. After “playing around with” such items, the stay-at-home mom says “it just blossomed into this hobby,” adding that it was “therapeutic for me to build and create.” Aside from creating boxes and boards for pickup and delivery, she teaches workshops on the how-tos of the trade. Sticking mainly to Nassau and mid-Suffolk, Charon’s hourlong in-home workshops require a minimum of six attendees who will design a board filled with meats, cheeses, fresh and dry fruits, nuts, honey and other staples. The goods are arranged on 10-inch palm leaf platters and can feed up to three people. The workshops, starting at $95 per person, usually take place during the week (with flexible time slots). Expect to learn placement, how to create designs out of meats, cheeses and fruits, among other tips. Can meet most dietary restrictions. More info: Based out of Bayville; 516-628-7056; charcuterieandthings.com; instagram.com/charcuterie_n_things; email@example.com
Deja Moo Cheeses
"It ain’t easy being cheesy,” says Gina Motta, who nonetheless went ahead and launched a cheese (and meat)-focused business in the summer of 2021. Test your skills at one of Motta’s events, where she demonstrates how to make roses out of meats like salami and pepperoni, and cheeses, like provolone; which techniques work best for these boards; and placement of each item. Meats, cheeses, fig jam, fresh and dried apricots, macarons or salted caramel bites are assembled on a 12-inch bamboo board meant to feed up to three people. Motta says she most frequently works with three types of cheeses during her hour-or-so lecture: goat (blueberry or cranberry), cow (Brie, Cheddar) and sheep (manchego). A minimum of six people are required for booking both private and publish workshops, which on average cost about $50 to $55 a head. On Feb. 10, Motta will be hosting a Galentine’s Day workshop at AR Workshop in Bellmore, where participants will paint a heart-shaped board that they'll filling with meats and cheeses; $75 for three hours. More info: Based out of Lindenhurst; 631-813-0137; instagram.com/dejamoocheeses