Written by Ashley Davis of Kifani Press for Project Green Fork

Cristina McCarter loves to bring people together through good food and good company. She is the owner of Feast and Graze, a thriving charcuterie delivery business in downtown Memphis. Charcuterie boards are hand-crafted selections of meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables. Cristina uses locally-sourced delicacies and fresh, in-season produce. Although cheese boards are her specialty, customers can also enjoy a variety of salads, sandwiches and gourmet items. By keeping things local and in season, Cristina is able to highlight other Memphis artisans while also keeping her business sustainable.

As a part of Clean Memphis’ Project Green Fork program, her team works to reduce their environmental impact on the city. In addition to using locally sourced products, Cristina ensures that all of her packaging is environmentally friendly. She uses green-certified products such as Green Paper Products, Bio and Chic and EcoProducts. Her team also composts daily and responsibly manages food waste.

She thinks it is important for businesses, especially restaurants, to do their part for the city.

“It is important and crucial. We can be very wasteful and that opens the doors for dangerous effects in this world,” she said. “We can set an example, whether it be good or bad. I chose good.”

For Cristina, taking care of the environment, reducing waste and keeping things local are all good things to do. However, she says these practices also ultimately help build a strong community.

Community is a part of her motto.

She is grateful she gets to live out her food philosophy everyday. “Good food brings people together,” she said, “but good company keeps them there.”

“When someone walks through our doors, they can expect great customer service and tons of smiles and laughs. They’ll hear us jamming Memphis soul music,” she added. “They’ll get to smell and eat fresh ingredients. We want to create an environment that is welcoming, fun and one they’ll want to come back to and visit.”

The idea to start Feast & Graze was born after hosting a cheese board inspired event in 2019.

“I started Feast and Graze after organizing the Craft Food and Wine Festival benefiting Church Health in 2019. This annual event opened my eyes to starting a cheese board delivery service and catering company,” Cristina said. “With it being so new and niche it was well received. Even during 2020 with all of its challenges, we were still successful because we were a delivery service. We adjusted our product offerings and stayed contactless.”

Cristina and her team jumped on the opportunity to fulfill this niche demand. She says customers love having creative, artisan cheese boards delivered straight to their door.

In 2022, she was offered a year-long storefront opportunity through the Downtown Memphis Commission. Her pop-up location is a part of the Open on Main program which allows entrepreneurs opportunities to test their business concepts in a brick-and-mortar location.

Visitors to the shop can expect delicious flavor combinations like apple-bacon jam on a multigrain cracker or whipped goat cheese with lavender and hot honey on a baguette. Many of the fresh greens, like arugula and kale, are sourced directly from local farmers. The handmade jams, jellies and spreads are crafted right here in the city.

Cristina says using local ingredients helps everything taste better, but it also helps to eliminate the waste of buying products in bulk.

Customers ultimately get to taste the benefits of sustainability.

“We hope once you open your cheeseboard or sandwich, you smell the freshness and the herbaceous efforts we put into it,” she said.