MaKaylen Genung never expected to be so busy so soon after launching her new business – Olive Branch Platters, where “Charcuterie Board” trays are the star of the show.
“Charcuterie – I don’t like that word … I’m from Olive Hill – I say ‘meat and cheeses’,” Genung said with a laugh before explaining Olive Branch Platters also offers “fruit and veggie” platters.
Genung, who is a member of the West Carter High School Class of 2011, said the name of her new business is a reflection of her western Carter County roots.
“Olive for Olive Hill and Branch for Dry Branch where I was raised,” she said.
She studied social work at Morehead State University and later earned a Masters Degree from The University of Kentucky, Genung said she had just gotten started working as director for Active Day of Ashland when she learned she was expecting twins.
“So, I’m a social work major making platters,” she chuckled.
Her artistically arranged platters first gained attention when she made them for family functions. Genung said someone suggested she offer them for sale.
“I asked around and there was a lot of interest. I thought it would be good for holidays and events and things like that but by the third week I was making platters every day. It has been a blessing. There’s nothing else like it around here,” she said.
No Two The Same
Fruit and veggie platters may tend to follow a few basic patterns, Genung said, but each meat and cheese platter is an individual creation.
“The creativity is what I enjoy. Each is unique. The fruit and veggies trays are pretty standard but the meat and cheese platters – there’s no two the same.”
Genung said she’s learned most her her regular customers favorite foods, and works with each new client to make something they and their guests will enjoy.
“Some people will be really specific and others let me go with my choices. Those are my favorites because I get to be really creative,” said.
Pinwheel sandwiches are one of the most popular components of Olive Branch Platters’ creations, along with cream-cheese jams and goat cheese in blueberry, vanilla, cinnamon cranberry and honey.
“People sometimes react to to the idea of goat cheese because it’s not typical in this area. After they try it, they want more.”
New Kitchen & Tea Room
Genung is now making trays in the kitchen at the Olive Hill Historical Society’s “Tea Room” on the renovated former Olive Hill High School campus. The kitchen was a “turnkey” facility with no additional equipment required, and the 100 seat Tea Room will allow additional growth as a site for events including reunions and showers.
“It is a blessing,” Genung said, explaining she hopes to develop monthly events such as “Mommy & Me Tea” or “Daddy/Daughter” dances.
“The Tea Room is a whole other side of it. To have a place for local people to have events will be just wonderful. There’s nothing else like this place anywhere around here.”
For now, Genung is the sole employee of Olive Branch Platters although she hopes to soon add another person in the kitchen and hire another to make deliveries.
“It all just grew so fast,” she said, her head shaking slightly from side to side. “It’s crazy. That’s all I can say.”
Family & Fun
Genung is an Olive Hill resident along with her husband, Dylan, and they have three children, Nia, Teagan and Theo. The family’s only pet is Nia’s Betta fish. She describes herself as “a nature person” and “a thrift store junkie.”
“I like hiking, photography, kayaking … I’m a creek girl!”
If her business continues to grow, Genung said she would like to start a non-profit community resource center to help families with things like food and clothing.
“That’s the social worker in me seeing the community need.”
Easy To Reach
Many of Olive Branch Platter’s orders come from the business’s Facebook page, or with a call or text to 606-316-2806. Platters are typically priced between $35 and $45.
“I’m pretty easy to get hold of,” Genung said with a smile.
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON