As the oldest of five children, Ericka Mitchell lovingly recalls Sunday afternoons when she and her father would travel from their home in Delaware to the Italian markets in Philadelphia to roam among the vendors and sample their goods.
“Over time we got to know some of the vendors because my dad loves to talk,” Mitchell said. “Di Bruno Bros., one of the more well-known markets, always had something special for us to try. I think this is what really sparked my interest in cheese and charcuterie. I loved visiting the market.”
Mitchell quietly launched Grateful Graze, a company specializing in graze boards and boxes, in 2019, providing edible experiences to friends and family. In early 2020, she applied to make her business a limited liability company, and was granted a license the same week as COVID-19 shutdowns began last March, forcing her to put the business on hold for much of 2020.
Despite this early setback, Grateful Graze is now fully operational and offering a variety of graze boxes and boards, each carefully crafted to create unique flavor pairings.
Mitchell emphasized that while her boxes and boards include cheese and charcuterie, there’s much more to the experience, including items such as dried fruits, olives, cornichons, hot-sweet jalapenos, nuts and chocolate. Each box or board also includes three dips – a mustard, a fruit jam or preserve, and local honey.
Working from a commercial kitchen in Monkey Junction, Mitchell offers boxes in five sizes, as well as boards, which allow for a bit more customization based upon the customer’s requests. For instance, some customers will ask her to create a board that pairs well with a certain wine varietal.
“I really enjoy the research aspect of creating pairings,” Mitchell said. “And I like to make sure that everything that is included will pair with five or six other things within the box.”
In addition to making sure the pairings are spot-on, Mitchell said there is a visual component to the boxes and boards that is equally important.
“There has to be a balance of color,” Mitchell said. “I love the visual aspect of food as art.”
Mitchell sources much of her product from retailers such as Tidal Creek Co-op, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and also purchases some imported cheeses online.
She hopes to increase the number of locally produced items in the boxes, beyond the honeys she uses currently.
“Since the holidays I’ve gotten lots of good feedback,” Mitchell said. “I hope to eventually have a brick and mortar location where guests can enjoy a customizable board along with some wine.”
For more information on Grateful Graze or to place an online order, visit its website
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