HOUSTON — In traditional meal settings, bread historically served as the opening act before the main event. But as consumer lifestyles evolve with each generation, traditional meals are about as common as cable television.

In today’s snacking culture, sit-down family meals have given way to drive-thru noshing or “friendsgiving” gatherings where charcuterie boards allow guests to graze.

In recent years, boards have taken center stage for anything from holiday parties to family brunch at home. They can be beautifully made in the kitchen or left to the professionals in the supermarket deli.

These boards serve as a centerpiece, with meats and cheeses taking the main stage. Now, bread is making its way out of the basket and onto the board.


During the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s IDDBA 2024 conference, Aspire Bakeries — parent company to La Brea Bakery — showcased its latest product innovation and demonstrated how bread can snag the spotlight on charcuterie boards.   

“People know we have great bread,” said Brie Buenning, Aspire Bakeries’ director of marketing for La Brea Bakery. “But they don’t always know how to use it. So, we have created perfect pairings with La Brea Bakery bread.”

With a focus on consumer education, La Brea Bakery offers its users advice and inspiration for using its products along with other items found nearby in the grocery perimeter. A great charcuterie doesn’t have to be complicated. It only needs a few key pieces — including a specialty bread — to create an elevated experience at home.

“We’ve created several pairings using only three ingredients that can be found in the in-store bakery and deli,” Buenning said.

“This is the opportunity for different varieties of bread to bring diversity to the charcuterie board.” — Jon Davis | culinary innovation leader | Aspire Bakeries


During IDDBA, the team showcased boards using La Brea Bakery Three Cheese Semolina with prickly pear spread, cotija cheese and sliced chorizo; Italian round loaf with ricotta cheese, blackberries and spicy balsamic; and Pecan Raisin sourdough with blue cheese, fig and honey.

“It’s no longer about placing slices of bread off to the side,” said Jon Davis, culinary innovation leader for Aspire Bakeries. “We can play with textures and use grilled bread or toast with parmesan. There are just so many things you can do with bread as opposed to simple slices; this is the opportunity for different varieties of bread to bring diversity to the charcuterie board. It’s a starting point to build on.”

The brand is not only showcasing these pairings on its social media pages, but La Brea Bakery is also working with its retail partners to develop new ways to educate their shoppers through in-store demos, QR-coded recipes and board inspiration.

“People don’t need to be ‘charcuterie makers’ to create boards like this,” Buenning said. “We can help them take four ingredients and build out a board. That’s where we’ve been focused: helping our retail partners provide consumers with good information.”  


While younger demographics are all about snacking, they’re also hugely concerned with waste. Charcuterie is a great place for consumers to reduce waste in the breads they buy, and that’s another area where La Brea Bakery can offer educational tools.

“There are so many uses for bread outside of table bread and sandwiches,” Davis said. “It’s an ingredient as well as a standalone.”

Davis noted ideas such as thinly slicing sourdough and caramelizing it as an accompaniment to ice cream or using different types of La Brea Bakery breads in casseroles. Additionally, La Brea Bakery has shared usage suggestions for the second, third or even fourth day of its products. It can start with fresh sandwiches on day one, grilled cheese on day two, move into casseroles the third day, and, finally, breadcrumbs and toasts on day four.

“It all comes from a need to make things go as far as they can,” Davis said. “There are so many different uses, and we are constantly playing with how to stretch it further.”

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