First food-related job? I grew up on a farm in Olympia, Wash., and participated in 4-H in the late 1960s and ‘70s. 4-H introduced me to the concept of farm to table. I sold fresh farm eggs door to door.
Where did you learn to make cheese? At the vat with the late Ig Vella and Cary Bryant, Rogue Creamery’s co-owner. Ig was a masterful cheesemaker and mentored me. Cary is there to guide us everyday in making delicious cheese. In addition, I took two courses at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese, a course at Oregon State University and another at UC Davis and have read almost everything published on cheese.
Favorite way to eat cheese?I prefer cheese on its own, as a starter and following a meal. Often I pair it with preserves, fruit paste, dried fruit, honey, nuts, artisan crackers and bread strategically aligned with wine, beer, hard cider, juice, tea or coffee. I enjoy cooking with cheese and find it easy to include in every dish.
What should the public know about cheese? I refer to artisanal cheese advocate Max McCalman’s quote that “Cheese is the most perfect food.”
Who is your cheese idol?Ig Vella will always have this place for me.
First memory of cheese?Tillamook Cheddar and Oregon Blue Vein cheese were always a part of our household. I have fond memories of grilled cheese sandwiches with Tillamook Classic Cheddar and iceberg lettuce wedge salads with Oregon Blue Vein cheese. My first memory of American artisan cheese was at DeLaurenti’s at Pike Place Market, experiencing one of Sally Jackson’s leaf-wrapped creations [from Sally Jackson Cheese] and a Spanish Cabrales. How ironic.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a cheesemaker?I have a list of things. However, I am passionate about cheese every day. I can’t think of anything except opening a cheese bar.
Best book about cheese you’ve read?I refer to all of them. I appreciate the content for their specific purposes whether cheese making, historical, pairing, cooking, regional or cheese mongering. I am currently enjoying the series of videos by Will Studd titled “Cheese Slices.”
Would you bait a mousetrap with your cheese?Without a doubt. I use peanut butter on the farm. It works every time. The creamery has a third-party organically managed pest control program.