BEL AIR, Md. — With ornate designs on densely-packed boards – heart-shaped strawberries, salami roses, jagged cheese and deli meat arranged like ribbon candy – Dana Berbenich has become a prominent local star in the world of charcuterie boards.
Now the Bel Air resident is turning her business, Boards by Dana, into an actual storefront in downtown Bel Air. Berbenich announced on social media that she’ll open a store called The Grazing Room, in the Terlyn Square shopping center on Churchville Road.
The festive charcuterie boards are not just a job or a way to capitalize on a trend for Berbenich; they’re her true passion.
“It’s very much a creative outlet for me. I say, ‘This is my art…’ I am doing it because I absolutely love it. It is truly like this passion that I’ve been able to tap into.”
Her artistry and creativity with food has taken off on social media, giving her 121,000 followers on Instagram and 108,000 on TikTok.
The Grazing Room will be “cheese shop >>> meets gathering place >>> meets specialty store >> meets event space,” she wrote. Berbenich plans to offer grab’n’go items (with pre-made smaller boards), and retail items so she can partner with local artists to sell the actual boards as well as some of the food commonly used for charcuterie (cheese, meats, crackers, olives).
Berbenich is leaving her full-time job as an account manager to focus on building her business. She always had a creative side and loved food and entertaining, but when she started Boards by Dana in late 2021, she thought it would be just a side hustle.
The positive response from the community showed her it could evolve into a real business, and she now teaches classes on making the boards and does large-scale catering.
Her long grazing tables are among the more impressive offerings, as well as the occasional venture into a different food design, like a watermelon cake that she created for summer.
Boards by Dana delivers within 20 miles of Bel Air but will drive farther for larger events.
Berbenich said the board is “like a canvas” for her, and no two boards are the same. She likes to get in the zone and just channel the creativity, thinking about adding vibrant color but also what foods will complement each other. For example, she loves the contrast of Brie cheese with fresh berries, both for the color and the flavor combination.
She also loves to shop Trader Joe’s seasonal cheeses and sample the specialty cheeses to see what foods they could work with.
One of her proudest displays has been a grazing table for 600 people at a library gala, done last November. She had had never done anything on that scale before.
Berbenich said she would advise people to push through self-doubt and pursue their passion in life. She said she always criticizes herself, has intrusive thoughts, and is super-critical of herself.
“I am my own worst enemy… I guess what i would say to people is, don’t let those thoughts take over, and if you have an idea or a vision, and it’s something you’re really truly passionate about, I think you need to just go for it because it comes through… If you love something and you’re passionate about something, and you go after it and go for it, you’re going to be successful at it.”