Dawn Cleveland left her nursing job to start, From The Diner, a custom, hand-crafted charcuterie company specializing in boards, boxes, tables, and much more!
From The Diner Podcast Transcript
Stephanie Hansen 0:11
Hi, this is Stephanie Hansen from the makers of Minnesota podcast, where we talk to cool people doing cool things. And today we are talking to Don Cleveland and she is with from the diner. And they are doing should coterie boards for all occasions, but also doing classes and I really like she cookery boards. I like the idea that it’s real artistry because there are so many different ways you can put it together. Don, how did you get started in this?
Dawn Cleveland 0:41
Well, always being a foodie person. I guess I started in about November of 2020. I’m a registered nurse. Sure. But I recently resigned to that position and do this full time. But I started in November 2020. I just woke up one day and thought, you know, I’m going to start doing this. It was just something that I wanted to do. And I thought that it would just be through the holiday season, maybe making them for Thanksgiving, Christmas and into New Year’s. But then I kept getting orders. And I realized that this is something that people really want. It’s not just for holidays. It’s for all occasions. Like I’d mentioned earlier, people want them for birthdays, weddings, picnics, date nights, just every occasion that you can think of
Stephanie Hansen 1:24
Do you like when you started? Did you take a class? Or how did you learn to put them together? And is there a science to it?
Dawn Cleveland 1:31
I don’t know if there’s necessarily a science to it. I just kind of looked at other people’s photos on Instagram. It’s really self learning. I’ve always been artsy. I’ve always liked to do themed parties for my children and things like that. So I wouldn’t say there’s a science I think I think that anyone can do it with some teaching, which is why I do my classes. Yep. But just Instagram Food Network University inspiration by other foodies like yourself
Stephanie Hansen 2:02
are their basic components. Like when you’re compiling a cheese board, you know, you generally want to have like one hard one soft one stinky is there like components for sure coterie to there.
Dawn Cleveland 2:17
There certainly is. And that’s one thing that I teach in my classes, about seven components of putting together a board, one being picking your board and what type of occasion you’re having. You might want to match the board to the occasion. But the food Yes, absolutely. Especially with the cheese, there is a general rule, you want to have a cheese from each of the animal milk categories. So a goat’s milk cheese, a sheep’s milk, cheese accounts, cow’s milk cheese. And if you think about those types of cheeses, the goat’s milk is soft. The sheep’s milk is sometimes you know, like semi hard. And then the cheddar is cow’s milk cheese are hard cheeses, typically. And so those are all different varieties, textures, flavors of of cheeses that you would have on your board that’s visually appealing to your eye, and then also your palate,
Stephanie Hansen 3:07
I have been taught that you put the cheeses down first. And then you kind of build around the cheeses. Is that just a personal thing? Or
Dawn Cleveland 3:15
I think it’s a personal thing. I agree with that somewhat, where I lay down the largest items first, and then start building around the largest items. So typically, the largest items would be like my bundle of grapes, or maybe a large wedge of cheese. But it really all depends on how you’re going to style the cheese. If you do lay a whole wedge on then yes, that would be something that I would put on first, but typically, typically, like I said, the large items I would put on and then start building around those things to fill up my board.
Stephanie Hansen 3:47
And then do you do like some people like jams some people like fruit some people like dried fruits and nuts? Do you just do that kind of based on what your field is,
Dawn Cleveland 3:58
I will typically add those things because I think that they are an essential part of a charcuterie board. And I do teach that that’s one of one of the components of adding so whether we’re adding nuts, you know, could be almonds, pecans, walnut, that would be an essential part of a board that I will almost always add, and they’re also used as fillers to fill up open spaces on the board. And then the condiment is an essential component as well whether it’s honey jams, jellies, different types of mustards, and in the American way of building charcuterie boards, which is called a grazing plate or a grazing board, we’re adding homelesses and different types of dips as well. So condiments are an essential part of a board.
Stephanie Hansen 4:42
And do you like the idea of the board has kind of morphed into like there’s bagel boards and there’s brunch boards and bloody mary boards? Are you writing like a lot of those different varieties to I
Dawn Cleveland 4:56
have? Yes, I do. I do brunch boards. I’ve done What I call a pup to reboard for dogs. Cute. Yeah. What else have I done, I’m going to be doing a class at a Greek restaurant coming up. So that’s going to be a Greek themed board fun. So there’s all different types of things that you can do that are really fun. In in addition to those themed boards, there’s charcuterie cups, there’s charcuterie boxes, there’s grazing tables. And those can all have different themes as well.
Stephanie Hansen 5:27
Did this really take off during the pandemic where people were more at home and didn’t have access to, you know, restaurants, charcuterie boards and wanted more of an elevated experience, but in their homes,
Dawn Cleveland 5:39
it really did. And it started before I started doing this, but I think that was part of it, people, people, since they couldn’t go out to restaurants, they would bring these fancy plates into their home. And then once the pandemic pandemic started to kind of lighten up a little bit and restaurants were opening, that’s when people started coming to me and wanting to have me teach classes, because it was something for people to do. People were itching to get out and, and find events and find fun things to do, as well as establishments. They were trying to get people in and find new things to do as well. So it definitely did have something to do with a pandemic.
Stephanie Hansen 6:18
Do you teach classes online? Or do you go to an actual location?
Dawn Cleveland 6:23
I do not do online or virtual classes. My classes are primarily breweries and wineries. I do private in home classes. And now corporate classes are really starting to pick up for me for not only team building, but just corporate events, and things like that.
Stephanie Hansen 6:42
Generally, how much is it to participate in a class
Dawn Cleveland 6:45
classes range, depending on the establishment and type of party? It is anywhere from 65 to $85? Each,
Stephanie Hansen 6:53
and you leave with a shokudo every situation you do. Right? How do you market yourself? Because you’re really a service? So is the social media where it’s at? Or is it word of mouth? You’ve got a pretty good following already.
Dawn Cleveland 7:08
It I think it’s both and and honestly, it’s very tough to get a following. And it just takes time. So yes, Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth, going out to events and just kind of being a part of everything that I can to get my name out there.
Stephanie Hansen 7:24
What pressure marketing
Dawn Cleveland 7:25
myself by sending out emails?
Stephanie Hansen 7:27
Yeah, what percentage of the time do you spend marketing your business versus working in your business?
Dawn Cleveland 7:33
Well, earlier on, I would say at least 75% of my time was marketing. Wow. Now that my name is out there a little bit more. Wow. It’s it’s it’s a lot of everything right now. Marketing the classes, responding to emails, responding to orders, so it’s just, it’s it’s an overload of all of it right now.
Stephanie Hansen 7:58
Is it becoming a job? And like a lot of people start out with hobbies, and then they get into their hobbies full time, and then the hobbies become jobs, and they kind of like it less. Are you in danger of that happening?
Dawn Cleveland 8:12
I don’t think so. It is my job, but it’s also a passion. So I had mentioned earlier that I’m a registered nurse. And back when I was starting my career, I was I was touring the court on blue, I was going to be a chef. And then I decided, well, nursing is my passion and cooking and food can be my hobby. So I did nursing. And then like I said, I started doing this charcuterie in November 2020 eventually resigned my nursing job and I do this full time. So I would say that it is my passion. And I always tell people that if you can do something that you’re passionate about and make a living doing it, go for it. And your your original career can many times be a backup if something doesn’t work out for you,
Stephanie Hansen 8:57
right? Did you leave nursing because of the demands of what was happening with COVID So I
Dawn Cleveland 9:04
was in a very busy hospital, hospital RN worked with many COVID patients, the actual COVID In working with patients never scared me. I loved working with COVID patients, but the staffing was very difficult. The long days, 12 hour days very difficult. And the reason I became a nurse is because I I love people, I love to connect with people, I want to educate people, I want to care for them. And I was finding that I wouldn’t I was not able to do my job that way. I didn’t have the time to give the people the love that I wanted to give and the care that I wanted to give in such a fast setting. So I gave that up for now. It’s always there if I want to go
Stephanie Hansen 9:47
back, my sister in law’s a nurse and she’s just talked about how different the job has become in the last three years. And with staffing challenges and just the speed with which you guys have to move Have and you know, she said it’s no wonder a lot of people are leaving the business. It’s just it’s so stressful.
Dawn Cleveland 10:07
It’s absolutely true. A lot of my co workers have went on to do different things different types of nursing that’s less stressful.
Stephanie Hansen 10:16
Yeah, and the tele nursing two is like a whole nother you write work for three months and make as much sometimes as you could in nine months at a regular nursing
Dawn Cleveland 10:27
and, and travel nursing the other that’s the other thing.
Stephanie Hansen 10:30
Yeah, a lot of that. So are there people that inspire you that are business people that you’re just like, Oh, I love their business, or I’m so impressed by them?
Dawn Cleveland 10:40
Absolutely. There’s other businesses as well as just people I would say, some of the food influencers are great inspiration. My son is one of them. He’s soda eats. Oh, this is my son Zack. Yes. I
Stephanie Hansen 10:56
love your song.
Dawn Cleveland 10:57
He’s He’s delightful. Isn’t he delightful? And he’s an inspiration to me. He’s, he’s positive. He’s friendly. He’s a hard worker. He just he’s a go getter. He’s, he’s just a great inspiration. You and Stephanie March have been one of my earlier inspirations. I started listening to your show back in 2005, when I was driving home from Children’s Hospital at 3pm at seven. And you know, there’s some other charcuterie companies that are on the other side of town that are that are super inspiring as well.
Stephanie Hansen 11:31
Are there like flavors of cheese that you’re just like crazy about that? You’re like, oh, I always have to have this kind or
Dawn Cleveland 11:39
so it varies. I have trends of what I love. But right now, I would say it’s it’s the Toscano cheeses, the Merleau Tuscana was so good. I like to have a cheese that has a little bit of tartness, and it kind of gets here right in the jowls. So that’s one that that I like to have. I typically don’t put that on the boards for my classes, but I like to do samplings of it in my class. That’s one of them right now. I’ve always been a huge blue cheese fan. I love blue cheese. And I think people either love or hate it. I’m a lover of it.
Stephanie Hansen 12:11
Do you have any favorites of blue cheese?
Dawn Cleveland 12:13
Um, I don’t think so. Okay,
Stephanie Hansen 12:16
yeah. And then in terms of any condiments that you really like to put on a board,
Dawn Cleveland 12:21
I think it depends on on the feel of my board. You mentioned earlier that the boards are never the same. They’re one of a kind, each one that’s created as one of a kind. So I might have a sweet board. I might have a savory board. So but I guess I really like mustard. spicy mustard. Me too. That’s a fun, a fun condiment to add some savory to a board.
Stephanie Hansen 12:42
Have you heard that last Capital Foods mustard? I haven’t been finding it. Very spicy. But it’s made locally. They’re going to be at the stone arch festival coming up can find it there. And you can find it online. And in some markets. It’s called Oh, I have it in my refrigerator right now. It’s called something it’s just lost Capital Foods makes it I can’t think of the name of it. But their local. Yes. And it’s delicious. I’ll actually send you a link when we get off the podcast. So alright, so if people want to find your classes or order boards from you, where should they go?
Dawn Cleveland 13:16
So my website is from the diner.com classes are listed there under boarding school. I do have level one and level two classes. So depending on which class you want, they are listed under level one level two, you do not have to take level one to take level two. There’s just so much that you can talk about with with a charcuterie, right? So from the diner.com you can always message me on Facebook from the diner and then Instagram from the diner as well. All right,
Stephanie Hansen 13:48
Don, it’s been lovely to chat with you. And thank you I now will always connect you with my friend from soda eat. So that’s nice. Thank you for being a guest today on makers in Minnesota. I love it. Thank
Dawn Cleveland 13:58
you for having me.
Stephanie Hansen 14:00
Yeah, we’ll talk soon. Bye bye.
Dawn Cleveland 14:01
Take care. Bye bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai