Chair of the board

Launched as pandemic therapy, a handcrafted cheese and charcuterie board business takes on a life of its own

Photo: Penny Rumming, owner of The Posh Cheeseboard Co.

IT’S A FRIDAY morning and ­production is bustling at The Posh Cheeseboard Co. on Bathurst Street, as owner Penny Rumming zips around the small shop.

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In the back rooms, her staff busily assemble the company’s handcrafted cheeseboards and charcuterie boxes, filled with local cheeses, meats, fruits and veggies.

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As an operation, it has the look of a well-oiled machine — an accomplishment, no question, for a business that has gone from pandemic side hustle to online business to brick-and-mortar service in just a couple short years.

“I had been doing charcuterie and cheeseboard-type things for friends and family for a couple years,” Rumming explains. “When Covid hit, I wondered if people might be interested in getting the boxes and contactless porch delivery. I put it out there — and yep, they did.”

Chair of the board board Food ServicesPhoto: Rumming with employees Nicole McCauley (left) and Robyn Smith

When the pandemic first hit, Rumming was operating the Posh Pedicure Lounge, a downtown spa, and also worked as a customer ­service agent for WestJet Airlines — two industries that came to a rapid ­standstill. And like so many upstart businesses launched in those early Covid days, The Posh Cheeseboard Co. was born out of some combination of earning extra income, bringing comfort into people’s altered lives and simply filling the hours in a day.

“I think it was just something ­different,” she says. “Something different than the usual.”

“Whatever I’m doing, I’m always looking to come up with new ideas — new layouts, new types of cheeses, new themes. I’ll even wake up in the middle of the night with ideas” —Penny Rumming

Boards and boxes from Posh are, to say the least, packed affairs — artistic arrangements of cured meats, cheeses, crackers, fruits, vegetables, spreads and sweets offered in a variety of sizes and themes, and also catered to dietary restrictions. They’re also a vehicle for Rumming’s ­creativity and passion for food and entertaining.

“Whatever I’m doing, I’m always looking to come up with new ideas — new layouts, new types of cheeses, new themes. I’ll even wake up in the middle of the night with ideas.”

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As the early pandemic restrictions faded, Rumming opted to return to her spa business. But by that point Posh Cheeseboard had grown into something formidable that she wasn’t about to give it up. “When the spa reopened, I was doing both for a while,” she explains. “But I ended up selling my spa in October 2021 — to my manager at the time — and I’m doing this full-time now.”

As the business community makes its way back to the office, Rumming says there’s been a growing demand for her products as a welcome-back treat or as a way of improving the office environment. “For example, ­businesses will do a breakfast and a lunch box when it’s their first day back,” she says.

Chair of the board board Food Services

Posh has also found a niche market as an ­alternative to traditional bereavement and condolence gifts. “Sympathies are huge for us,” she says, “a grazing box is a perfect food for that.”

What Posh Cheeseboards has done for Rumming is also give her some of her time back, and as she and the business emerge from the pandemic, she’s keen to keep it that way.

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“I’d like to grow, but not too huge,” she says, adding that she gets to work with family members (her dad makes the actual wooden cheese and charcuterie boards, and her mom comes in once a week to help out), and the balance is ideal for her right now. She is aiming to grow the corporate client side of the business and wants to expand the types of catered food she offers going forward. “We’re trying to become more of a one-stop shop for catering,” she says.

But she’s not rushing. “I like how manageable it is right now,” she says. “I travel a ton, so I like to keep things busy, but not busy enough that it’s not easily managed by my staff. I still want to streamline and do what we do best, and I’m in a good position.” Chair of the board board Food Services Kieran Delamont

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