“Cutty Boards started our business during the pandemic to brighten someone’s day,” said Mission-born Daniela Lencioni. But the cheese and charcuterie delivery service she started with her husband, Farid Lancien, is more than just a feel good idea: The couple’s concept is to bring people together over simple food, all within reach of every budget.
“Here we are so close to the Napa Valley, yet wine, cheese and charcuterie can be inaccessible and expensive,” said Lencioni. We decided we wanted to start a business that everyone could enjoy, in their homes, in the park as a picnic, with friends or in their pod. We want to claim space as people of color in this industry. ”
The couple met 11 years ago, when Lancien was a sous chef at Chez Spencer on 14th Street.
“After Chez Spencer burned down, he worked in various restaurants in the Bay Area,” said Lencioni. The pair knew they wanted to work in food together, but first, their combined love of travel set them on a journey of discovery across Europe.
“At the end of 2019, we decided to move to France. When we came home to visit in 2020, we weren’t able to travel back because of the pandemic,” she said. They’ve relied on family, friends and their delivery business to make the best of the situation.
“We’d always been interested in making food for our friends,” said Lencioni. “When people would come over we would make cheese boards or bring them to parties.”
Lenconi grew up in a close, hospitality-orientated family that gathered frequently at family homes in the Mission.
“I lived at South Van Ness and 22nd Street and my Grandma lived next to the Women’s Building, on Lapidge,” said Lencioni. “All of the women in my family cook amazingly well. As a young person, I always wanted to bring people together, for people to feel safe and have a community,” she said.
“My parents are from El Salvador and I was raised in the Mission eating Latin food: Pupusas, tamales, Mexican food, tacos, burritos,” she said. She was also encouraged to try all varieties of local cuisine. “Japanese, Chinese…my family made available to me and my sister appreciation of all sorts of foods. As I got older, I became more interested in wine, cheese and charcuterie from Italy, Spain and France.”
But it’s Lancien, a professional chef of Algerian and French heritage, who’s the cook in their house.
“He was raised with traditional Arab and French foods in an amazing city like Paris with its rich history of food. He has the food and beverage experience and I love to create and have the artistic eye,” said Lencioni, her professional background in administration. Her carefully selected arrangements of foodstuffs, often including fresh flowers and a tiny jar of honey with a mini-dipper, are especially sweet.
I found out about Cutty Boards during the pandemic, when a friend surprised me for no occasion with a beautiful board delivered to my doorstep: It was packed tightly with bite-sized pieces of manchego, gouda, crispy flatbreads, artfully rolled prosciutto and salami, and a delicious candied orange. There are also vegetarian, gluten-free cracker and vegan cheese options. Regular readers of this space know I’m not in the business of pitching goods or products, but the love and care put into Cutty Boards was worth celebrating.
“We support local ingredients and local farmers, especially those who are Black and Brown and people of color,” said Lencioni. The couple’s deep ties to their local community is reflected in other aspects of their business.
“Cutty means quiet, low-key,” said Lenconi, for those who need local slang translated. Cutty Boards has truly traveled the underground, catching on through word of mouth and social media. Its logo, designed by NorthCoast Graphics, conjures “Mission District meets vintage Art Nouveau cheese labels from France,” said Lencioni, an intentional nod to the couple’s roots. They even have a tagline: “Keep it Cutty.”
“Definitely word of mouth, community sharing and support has kept this little business going,” said Lencioni.
“Mother’s Day was a beautiful experience. A lot of mothers were surprised to get boxes from family members they hadn’t seen during the pandemic. You couldn’t see their faces because we were all wearing masks, but you could see how happy and surprised everyone was,” said Lencioni.
In addition to doing deliveries on Saturdays, Cutty Boards caters meetings and special events; and pop-ups are another possibility. With the future unknown, for now Cutty Boards is serving the East Bay, The City and northern San Mateo County through cuttyboardssf.com, by phone and instagram @cuttyboardssf.
“Ideally we’d like to open a small brick-and-mortar or food truck in San Francisco, but it can be inaccessible with the soaring rents,” said Lencioni. “We love to travel and it’s something we plan to do forever. But Cutty Boards will stay with us, wherever we go.”
Denise Sullivan, an author, cultural worker and editor of “Your Golden Sun Still Shines: San Francisco Personal Histories & Small Fictions,” can be reached at denisesullivan.com. SFLives/Live Talks live streams every second Sunday at birdbeckett.com.