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Daily Inspiration: Meet Sarah Dowling

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Dowling.

Hi Sarah, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
San Diego has always been home for me; I went to San Diego State and have worked at UC San Diego for the past ten years as a research coordinator. With a very science-focused career, food and food art have always been a creative outlet for me. While this has always been true, when the pandemic hit, I went all in. I probably spent 80% of my time cooking and 100% of my time thinking about my next culinary project. I loved how food could be art, and art could taste so so good.

As restrictions began to lift in early 2021, I was able to make more food for friends and family to finally get to show what I have been doing during lockdown. This is where charcuterie and graze boards came in. I am drawn to interesting and high-quality ingredients, as well as discovering new flavor combinations. I began learning more about food styling and the art of charcuterie and took the leap. Forage San Diego was born in January 2021, and I had my first friend/customer by the end of the month. By March, I had found a commercial kitchen to operate out of and was in full swing come Mother’s Day in May where I had a record number of orders. Currently, I am focused on building out the Forage San Diego Website and ordering system, cultivating a community of small business entrepreneurs through my Fridays With Forage Instagram Live every other Friday, and preparing for large event orders as weddings, parties, and group celebrations return.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In the world of social media, it is easy to be intimidated by the talent that already exists in charcuterie, food art, and food photography. It is multiple times a day that I will see a charcuterie board that is so creative and beautiful that I kick myself for not thinking of it or doing it first. This is when the jealousy, imposter syndrome, and feelings of defeat start creeping in. It takes everything in me to not throw in the towel some days. While the daily struggles of figuring out Instagram Reels, being your own marketing manager, learning how to put a website together, and making all the orders yourself are challenging, it’s the doubt and the fear that really gets me.

There have been almost as many tears as there have been feelings of accomplishment and joy. Luckily, in the Instagram charcuterie community, many women are very transparent about also experiencing these feelings. I have found that when I start feeling jealous or competitive with other businesses that it means it’s a perfect opportunity to collaborate! There is no way that I can do all the charcuterie business in San Diego as a one-woman company. Through creating relationships with other women-owned businesses, we have found ways to learn from each other and mutually refer business when we are unavailable.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I offer beautifully crafted and curated charcuterie and cheese grazing boards for all occasions. From a casual picnic with your friends to large, lush, eye-catching tables for weddings and high scale events, Forage San Diego is dedicated to making it unique and special. No two boards are the same, and I love to get creative with a customer’s food preferences and tastes, all while making sure the board also looks stunning. All boards come with my signature cucumber stars, a variety of cheeses and meats, unique jams made by local companies, assorted nuts, seasonal fruits, & dried fruits so that every bite is new and interesting.

With Forage San Diego being just me, I truly enjoy working closely with the customer to customize and build something that is perfect for their event or occasion. I am most proud of my ability to adapt to new foods and ideas to continue offering high-quality ingredients to every type of customer, including vegan boards, vegetarian boards, and pork-less boards. Have a strange request? Want to add the birthday boy’s favorite dessert to a board? or perhaps you love pickles and all things pickled and want to add extra olives! I will make it happen. Even if it means going to multiple grocery stores across San Diego in a day!

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I have always valued learning new things. As long as I am learning and growing in something that I love and enjoy, that is the definition of success to me.

Pricing:

  • Small To-Go Boxes Start at $30
  • Small Boards Range from $60 to $80
  • Medium to Large Boards Range from $100-$200

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Tam Flesser Photography

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