If the first cheeseboard picture didn’t have you wanting to drop everything and search your refrigerator for goodies to assemble your own cheese board, you definitely will be after reading through the rest of this interview with the Cheese Board Queen herself, Emily Delaney. Based in Chicago, Emily has been offering live cheeseboard classes on Instagram throughout the past few weeks.
In this post, she shares about when she first decided to start an Instagram account with the nickname given to her by a few of her girlfriends, tips to remember when creating a cheese board, her favorite honey, and jams to include in her boards, and more.
When did you first become interested in cheese and creating the beautiful cheeseboards that you share on your Instagram?
I’ve been making cheese boards for friends and family for years and eventually became known for them – I swear they were the only thing I was allowed to bring to a party! At a Friendsgiving party in 2018, a few of my girlfriends jokingly referred to me as the “cheese board queen” and the name just stuck with me. I had never heard of a cheese board influencer before and didn’t necessarily have a plan to become one, but in January 2019 I found myself craving a creative outlet and remembered that nickname: Cheese Board Queen. I logged onto Instagram and created the account, thinking it would be a fun way to share my boards and inspiration from others.
Initially, I thought I would eventually start taking orders and catering cheese boards in the Chicago area but as time went on, I realized that what I love most is sharing the behind-the-scenes look at the cheese boarding process. There is an unbelievable hunger for information about cheese boards right now and I want my little corner of Instagram to be a resource for those looking to learn – whether I’m sharing shopping lists, step-by-step guides, a peek into my creative process or details on products that make a cheese board really special.
That’s the path I’ve been on for the past 8-10 months and it’s been incredible to see how sharing that behind the scenes look has created a two-way dialogue with my audience – nothing makes me happier than seeing a tag or mention from a follower who used my tips or one of my boards as inspiration for their own. As an “influencer” that’s the kind of influence, I want to have – one that inspires others to tap into their own creativity and create something beautiful to share with loved ones.
What are some of the tips to remember when creating a cheeseboard?
In my eyes, the perfect cheese board is bountiful, colorful, and full of texture and variety. It’s important to select a variety of quality ingredients, starting with the star of the show: the cheese. I recommend selecting cheeses with a variety of textures (soft and hard) and milk types (cow, goat, and sheep). From there, build out the board with items that complement the cheeses and provide options for flavor pairings. For example, if you choose a triple cream brie cheese, include nice honey or jam and apple slices. I always recommend incorporating fresh produce to add color and freshness and balance out the richness of the cheese and charcuterie. When you’re building the board, play around with different ways to create texture and variety with the ingredients, like slicing up the cheeses in different ways, folding the charcuterie, and layering crackers in a fanned-out arrangement.
If you had to pick your absolute favorite type of cheese that you like to feature on one of your boards, what would it be?
This is the question I get asked the most and it is the most difficult one to answer! I always recommend including “crowd-pleasing” cheeses like aged cheddar or gouda, but my personal favorite is Saint André. It’s a triple cream cow’s milk cheese that’s produced in France. It’s a member of the brie family, but it’s extra creamy, buttery, and decadent so it pairs beautifully with honey, berry jam, fresh fruit, or spread on a slice of baguette. Its versatility and beautiful, creamy texture make it a great addition to any cheeseboard.
What are some of your favorite things to include for your spring cheeseboards?
Fresh produce! It’s really difficult to find great fruits and vegetables in the Midwest during the winter months – a girl only eat so many apples and oranges – so I get very excited about incorporating fresh spring veggies (like asparagus, radishes, and snap peas) and fruit (strawberries are my favorite).
Where are some of the places you shop for fresh produce (Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s or do you also visit farmers markets?)
I live in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood and am lucky to live within walking distance of Mariano’s, Trader Joe’s, and the Green City Farmer’s Market in Lincoln Park. I tend to rotate shopping trips between those three and try to support local farmers and producers as often as I can.
I have an ever-growing collection of jams and honeys (and I absolutely agree that they make the perfect hostess gift) what are some of the brands of jam/honey that you like to feature?
We should compare collections sometime! 😉 I love to include products from small businesses and artisanal makers. My favorite honey comes from Bee Seasonal Honey. Based in Arizona, Bee Seasonal is run by a husband and wife team who travel the world sourcing the most incredible honey. They’ve launched two collections so far and the variety of the honey in each offers endless flavor pairing options. When it comes to jam and preserves, there are endless options! Some of my favorite local jam makers are Rare Bird Preserves and Bushel and Pecks. I’m also a huge fan of the unique flavors and gorgeous packaging from BRINS Jam.
Last week you offered a wonderful live cheeseboard class via your Instagram, and you also teach workshops as well. What do you enjoy the most about teaching the art of creating cheese boards with others?
Cheese Board Queen workshops and private classes combine two of my passions: cheese boards and hosting events. These events bring my platform to life, allowing me to gather people around a table to enjoy good food, meet new friends and learn a new skill.
What should attendees expect from a typical workshop experience?
I cater each workshop to the venue and audience, but my curriculum always includes a masterclass on my best tips and tricks for shopping and styling, a crash course on the various types of cheeses, and a live demo. From there, my guests take what they’ve learned and built their own mini cheese boards to take home with them (the board is theirs to keep).
Where do you find the boards for the cheese boards you’ve featured on Instagram?
I think of the board as the canvas and I like to think outside the box when sourcing them. I have some traditional wood and marble boards that I’ve collected from Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma, HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, Target, etc. but some of my favorites have come from antique stores or local boutiques – and some aren’t even boards at all! Cake stands, trays, and even pretty serving dishes can double as a cheese board and add a bit of extra flair and visual interest.
Have you considered writing a book?
Yes! This is something I have dreamed of doing since the early days of Cheese Board Queen. If I found the right opportunity and a way to balance it with my full-time job, I would do it in a heartbeat!
Follow along with the Cheese Board Queen via Instagram.