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Vanessa Castro grows gourmet charcuterie business

Filling a gap: the Rosemary Sprig Charcuterie, which operates out of the commercial kitchen at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hamilton Parish, aims to please with a range of European meats and cheeses (Photograph supplied)

When Vanessa Castro was first cleared to begin The Rosemary Sprig Charcuterie last October, it opened a new world for many Bermudian foodies.

While the necessary permissions took a little longer than expected, after finally satisfying the appropriate authorities, she has not missed a beat.

“At first I thought I would work out of my home, but that did not work out,” she said.

With the help of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation she found a commercial kitchen at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hamilton Parish, which she now shares with another business.

She is offering charcuterie boards with artfully arranged European meats and cheeses, plus other things like fruits and vegetables.

“Charcuterie was quite popular in Toronto,” she said. “I thought Bermuda was missing out on this market.”

Her clients range from people holding impromptu intimate gatherings, to large events such as Realestate.bm’s launch party last week with around 60 guests.

She also worked Joy Barnum’s picnic concert at Verdmont Museum in Smith’s on Saturday.

Her products are available for delivery on the Sargasso Sea delivery app on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with just 60 minutes notice.

“I could do anywhere from one to four boards a weekend,” she said.

With advance notice, Ms Castro can also provide charcuterie for businesses or events during the week.

“I work full-time,” she said. “Most gatherings and celebrations happen on the weekends, so it works out. If it continues to grow, I could open a store front or work with another company that has walk-ins.”

She uses Europa Imports to source meats and cheeses, but tries to use local fruits and vegetables. For that reason, her charcuterie boards tend to vary with what ever is in season.

What is charcuterie

Charcuterie is the French art of preparing meat products such as bacon, salami, ham, and sausage for gatherings. More simply, it involves fancy meat and cheese boards.

“We always have a good supply of meats and cheeses on hand,” she said. “With everything else, it is really about what we can get our hands on that is fresh, and readily available to prepare.”

There are a variety of serving options, including decorative, wooden Teakhaus cutting boards from The Chef’s Shop.

“If you want the board, that is yours to keep,” she said. “If you do not want it, there are also boxes or trays.”

Ms Castro had a previous experience opening a food business - a bakery in Toronto, Canada.

She recalled the typical wait time was six or seven weeks to pass health inspection and get the doors open.

In Bermuda, it took more like six months before it was approved by Environmental Health, the division of the Health Department that licences food and beverage businesses.

“The biggest challenge has been the Health Department,” she said. “I have a lot of experience with food handling from my previous company, so there was no problem there. In Bermuda, it is a little bit of a slower pace than what I am used to.”

She thinks the long wait may have been communication challenges she had with the department.

Ms Castro said there appeared to be staffing shortages and further problems were probably related to the cyberattack that crippled the Bermuda Government for several weeks last May.

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Published April 22, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 23, 2024 at 8:13 am)

Vanessa Castro grows gourmet charcuterie business

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