What's going to be 500 feet long, covered with local cheese, and protected from seagulls?
The world's longest charcuterie board, if all goes to plan for Wes Levesque.
He's the owner of Shelia's Catering Co., a catering business operating across Metro Vancouver, but mostly in South Surrey and White Rock. Interested in world records since childhood, Levesque is combining his love with his business to make a go of entering the record books while raising money for local charities.
Devastation leads to inspiration
There were a few things that inspired this plan, says Levesque, but it was when the White Rock Pier was badly damaged a few years ago that the idea started to coalesce.
"It all started with the storm back in 2019. When the White Rock Pier was hit by a huge storm a big section got destroyed," he tells V.I.A.
As a business, Shelia Catering participated in some of the fundraising to repair it, like buying a plank for the pier. There were also events on the pier that interested them; add to that the company's history of doing big, fancy charcuterie boards, and his personal interest in world records and a plan began to come into focus.
And then the pandemic hit.
Going for the record
Summer 2023 seemed like the right time to make a real go of the records, Levesque says. When they started planning, the world's longest charcuterie board was measured at 155 feet, but a high school in California recently broke that record, setting the high mark at 200 feet.
Levesque and his team are going to try to more than double that.
"We wanted to make it difficult to break this record," he says of their 500-foot goal.
While the attempt won't be until Sept. 2, they've reached out to Guinness World Records to get them to adjudicate the massive grazing board.
How to do a 500 ft. charcuterie board
The logistics of a 500-foot presentation of meat, cheese, crackers, jams, and fruits is not altogether straightforward.
"The food part of this, even though it sounds daunting, that's probably the easiest part for us," says Levesque.
They're working with a variety of local businesses on all the supplies, with some already lined up. Altogether they'll need large amounts for quite a few things, like 200 pounds of cheese, and 200 pounds of various meats. But given their business and connections he doesn't see that being a huge issue.
Shelia's has even hired a couple of people to help focus on the attempt.
There's also the issue of keeping the seagulls away; Levesque says that's the most common issue people bring up.
"Of course, we thought of the seagulls; we've got a pretty good plan there," he says.
That plan includes volunteers guarding the food and special ice blankets to keep the food cool and protected from local wildlife. They're also working on lining up a falconer like at Granville Island. And they plan to have at least one drone in the air for photos and videos, which will double as a sort of aerial bodyguard. And of course, there's the crowd that'll be on hand for the food.
What it's all for
Creating the massive charcuterie board isn't just a world record attempt. It's also a fundraiser for a trio of local causes.
Fittingly, one of the main causes is Sources Community Resource Centre, which provides a variety of services in the community. The event will focus on raising funds for the food bank arm, with ticket sales and sponsorship heading there.
In all, there will be 1,200 tickets sold with multiple tiers. Tickets won't go on sale until June 1, though early access is being granted to people who sign up for the event's newsletter. Levesque says 700 people have already signed up for it.
After the event is over, the boards used for the event will be sold as well, raising money for the Friends of the Pier society.
The Semiahmoo Rotary Club will also be selling drinks and collecting the net profits for their own causes.
Along with the direct financial aid the vent will raise, he hopes it'll bring attention to White Rock and help raise interest in the Metro Vancouver community.
And for those worried about food waste, the plan is to donate any leftovers from the world record to Source's food bank program as well, so long as Fraser Health allows it. Levesque says they're working to make sure everything is done afterward in accordance with Food Safe rules so all the food is eventually consumed.
"There's a lot on the line not just for our business, but for the community and charities as well," Levesque says, noting they have a goal of raising $50,000 with the event.
While the charcuterie board food will just be for ticket holders, there will be a public party at the same time, on the shore with live music and more.
Levesque hopes the event exceeds their goals and proves there's an appetite for this sort of event.
"I think there's a really big demand in our community for events on the pier," he says. As long as everything goes smoothly I foresee us doing it again next year."