Back in 2020, I shared an interview with Emily Delaney aka @cheeseboardqueen. Emily, who is Chicago based, shared her beautiful charcuterie boards and Instagram LIVE demos throughout the pandemic, giving the cheese lovers amongst us something to look forward to each and every time the ‘@cheeseboardqueen is going live’ would pop up on screens as we scrolled through Instagram in search of inspiration.
For the final question of our 2020 interview, I asked Emily if she ever planned on writing a book, which she revealed it was “Something I have dreamed of doing since the early days of Cheese Board Queen.” On March 29th, Emily released her first book, Around the World, a seasonal cheese and charcuterie board book to inspire and elevate your gatherings throughout the year.
Today Emily shares an inside look into the book, the process of working with a publisher for the first time, her favorite season for sourcing fresh ingredients, and which of the boards from the book she enjoys most.
First of all, I’m so excited that your first book is out. During our first interview, you mentioned how you’d always dreamed of writing a book. When did you come up with the concept for the book which is divided by seasons?
When I was approached by DK last year, we were working together to come up with a more specific theme for the book and I wanted to create something that felt different from what was already out there while remaining true to myself and the way that I’ve always approached my content on Instagram. So I thought. There was definitely white space for a book that was organized by season and make it easier for readers. I think charcuterie really can be enjoyed any time of the year and I think the way they are laid out in the book is a really fun yet organized approach.
At what point during the writing process did you come up with the title for the book, Around the Board?
That came pretty early on. It was a very collaborative effort with the support of the team at DK. I really wanted it to feel like me and like it was in my voice. The reason that I always like talking about cheese and charcuterie is the way that it brings everyone together to kind of gather around the food that they love and be the conversation starter. Around the Board was a front runner for the title of the book from pretty early on in the process and I felt really connected to the title because I feel like it really speaks to what I view as the magic of the cheeseboard.
Out of all of the seasonal boards in the book, do you have a personal favorite?
I have so many favorites, but right now I’m really into all of the spring boards, of course. I’m in Chicago, so any hint of warm weather is really resonating with me. My favorite from this chapter is on pages 90—93 the Chèvre Forevre Board. I love this one because it’s really putting a spotlight on goat cheese which I think is one of my favorite categories of cheeses. This one is really fun because it gives you three different ways to enjoy chèvre or fresh goat cheese. There are three recipes including a marinated chèvre, a herb rolled chèvre, and a whipped honey chèvre. So you kind of get a variety of flavors and ways to experience fresh goat cheese. This board also focuses (like all of the other boards in the book) on focusing on other seasonal ingredients and this board in particular because it has those additional recipes really makes it one of my favorites.
What did you enjoy the most about the process of writing and styling the charcuterie boards features in Around the Board?
It was really fun to sit and think about each season. I wrote the manuscript by season which is the way that the finished published book ended up. I started off each season with a list of ingredients that really evoke the season and then I built the boards from there. I really wanted to make the first page the primer, so even if you’re not sure where to start or you can’t find an ingredient in one of the recipes, you can reference back to that first page of the chapter to find something else that you can replace it with.
The styling part is like my bread and butter, the food styling part. It was so incredibly fun to do all of the boards in one week. It was kind of a whirlwind where we had a kitchen filled with every type of food, cheese, board, cheese knife, styling prop that you could ever imagine. It was a dream come true to have all of those things to play with.
Which of the seasons is your favorite when it comes to sourcing fresh fruits that make the most impressive display on your cheese/charcuterie boards?
Summer. I’ve always felt so connected to summer produce whether it’s fresh tomatoes or fresh berries or melons. In the book, I feel like the summer chapter is the one that pops off the page with the colors. We were fortunate enough to be shooting all of the photos for the book in the middle of summer so we had our pick of all the best produce that the season had to offer. I also think it is one of the most colorful, flavorful, and fun chapters. We do different twists from the Cookout board to the S’mores board and there are a few twists that make that chapter really fun.
Were there any cheese/charcuterie boards that you put together that didn’t end up making it into the final version of the book?
There were two that were part of the manuscript that we just ran out of time to shoot. We only had 5 days to make fifty boards and photograph them all. There was going to be more one than one Halloween board, we were thinking about doing one with more of a candy focus, but we ended up going with the one that was more cheese-focused.
Around the Board was featured in Publisher’s Weekly. How excited were you when you found out you were going to be featured?
It was exciting and such an honor, especially to see the review come out before the book had even been released. It was such a positive review and I felt like the author really got the essence of the book and that really meant a lot to me.
Speaking of how we talked about charcuterie boards being something that people can really gather around as we are all dipping our toes back into the water and getting back into the world, it just really meant a lot that she got the essence of what the book is about.
What was it like working with a well-known publisher, Dorling Kindersley Limited, a division of Penguin Random House?
It was such a collaborative and positive experience. I had never interacted with a publisher or editorial team before, but my team was fantastic from my editor to my designer who really brought the layouts and the fonts to life. I felt like I was able to really express my love and passion for this way of eating to the page. It was definitely a very intense experience as I wrote the book in a period of 6 months, and it was a lot of work, but it was also a very positive experience. I really enjoyed it.
When you have your first book signing, what are you looking forward to the most about seeing your readers/fans in person?
I’m most looking forward to just getting back to seeing people in person. I haven’t had the opportunity to do in-person events and workshops since COVID. Chicago has had strict lockdowns and it hasn’t felt like the right moment to return to in-person events.
I feel like we started to get to that place, so I think just seeing the faces of people that I’ve had to opportunity to talk with online and finding out what their favorite boards were and their favorite ingredients, and hopefully, we’ll be able to gather around a board ourselves. We’re planning on making all of the events interactive including tastings with different pairings to just connect with people in person and share good food and bring the essence of the book to life.
Now that your first book is out in the world, are you considering writing another?
You never know. This book was such a good learning experience and I’m very proud of it. There are definitely different ways that I could take things in the future and I’m definitely open to any opportunities that come my way after I get through my wedding.
— About the Author —
Emily Delaney is the founder of Cheese Board Queen (@cheeseboardqueen), a community built around her passion for bringing people together around beautiful boards. Whether she’s breaking down the steps of a stunning arrangement, sharing expert flavor-pairing tips, or fostering community through virtual and in-person workshops, Emily’s mission is to take the guesswork out of making delicious boards for all of life’s occasions.
Pick up your copy of Around the Board.