An Ahousaht woman honors her grandmother by spreading her love for charcuterie

Burnaby, BC – Victoria Redhead is an extremely busy woman. She works full time at a dentist’s office and spends the remainder of her time crafting elegant food spreads to be enjoyed at events and functions.

Although it’s a fairly time-consuming task, putting together a charcuterie board is an art form. There isn’t a ‘cookie cutter’ style to an Owl Aboard spread either, some trays and boards have to be crafted with partially or fully vegan friendly options, which isn’t too easy with a board traditionally filled with meat and cheese.

Redhead is always up to the task though, offering to craft her boards to suit people’s needs for recent events like Indigenous Fashion Week or a night at UBC Longhouse.

Mary Holmes, a frequent customer and long-time family friend of Redhead’s says one of Redhead’s Owl Aboard charcuterie boards was a highlight at a Musqueam ceremony not too long ago.

“Owl Aboard was kind of the vehicle and as Musqueam artist, Thelma Stogan said, whenever we gather, we always put food on the table, whenever we do work, we always make sure there's something lovely to eat,” Holmes explained. “Victoria's food was just so immaculate and beautiful. It made the work so peaceful and loving and caring like it was supposed to be.”

As more and more events come together finished with Owl Aboard charcuterie boards sending people home happy with full bellies, it is important to look at where and why she started making them in the first place.

“It all started as fluke,” said Redhead with a laugh. “I had just been making charcuterie boards for my family and stuff and then one day I put it on Facebook. Right away I had a bunch of people messaging asking where I ordered it from, and it just took off from there.”

The instant demand for great food and presentation was apparent, with friends and family recommending early on that Redhead begin building her charcuterie business. It wasn’t long before Owl Aboard was born, according to Redhead it’s been about a year since she opened up for business. Aside from events, her orders are often built for gifts, road trips and family functions while accommodating for all kinds of tastes and styles.

Being based in Burnaby, Redhead says she has an array of options to source meat, cheese and produce locally for her product as well.

Owl Aboard wouldn’t have been possible without family however, Redhead says her mother bought her the meat slicer she uses to this day, and a major source of her inspiration came from her grandmother Peggy August, right down to her business name.

“She was born and raised in Ahousaht and she loved owls, there owls were all over her house,” said Redhead. “So, when she passed away, my sisters and my mom and I all took all her figurines and paintings of her owls and now our whole houses are full of owls because of my grandma's collection.”

When it came time to come up with a business name, all the cheesy charcuterie puns in the world couldn’t compete with the chance to honor her grandmother. Redhead says the Owl Aboard logo itself is actually the same design as a tattoo she previously got done in memory of her grandmother.

Mary Holmes says Owl Aboard is the perfect way to continue Redhead’s grandmother’s tradition and legacy. Between the owls and the adoration for enjoying good food together, it’d be right up her alley. Victoria’s grandma, Peggy August was a big proponent and star in terms of understanding food but doing it beautifully and immaculately and with lots and lots of love,” explained Holmes.

Redhead’s Owl Aboard work brought her over to Vancouver Island for a workshop just a few weeks ago. She was asked to put together a team building class, teaching about ten people about some of the finer points involved in making charcuterie boards.

People in the workshop learned how to make tasty roses out of things like cucumber and salami, and where on a board to place the more decorative pieces in order to give it the right design. Redhead says everyone involved was very willing to learn, one woman was even creating little trees before the workshop started.

“It was really good. Everybody's just so creative. I even kept telling them charcuterie is just limitless. You can pretty much make charcuterie out of anything nowadays,” she added.

Through her Owl Aboard Instagram and Facebook pages, Victoria Redhead has shared a lot of her creations and received positive feedback. With one woman even requesting she build and ship a charcuterie board all the way to Ontario.

For now, Redhead says she’d like to keep things local around her home base in Burnaby, but the goal eventually is to own and operate a full Owl Aboard storefront and really have her creations on display.

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