Tasia Malakasis, president and head cheesemaker, Belle Chevre, Elkmont, Ala.
First food-related job?I worked in a gourmet-to-go deli under a French-trained chef in order to get the experience and recommendations I needed to get into the Culinary Institute of America.
Where did you learn to make cheese?When I found out about Belle Chevre, I bugged the founder to teach me how until she let me into the creamery to learn first-hand.
Favorite way to eat cheese?Our chevre mixed with wild, organic honey on a bagel in the morning, or crackers if it’s afternoon.
What should the public know about cheese?Goat cheese is a superfood. It’s 2012’s healthiest cheese, lower in fat and calories than cow’s milk counterparts. Plus, it contains probiotics, nutrients. It can get a bad rap, cheese, but it’s really so good for you.
Who is your cheese idol?My own cheesemakers who, day in and day out, love what they do, and it shows up in the taste.
First memory of cheese?Well, I am an American and a child of the ’70s, so honestly, it was Kraft singles. But, when I was in Greece for the first time at 15, I had really great feta and some amazing aged cheeses that set me on fire.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a cheesemaker?My road to cheesemaking began at culinary school, so perhaps I’d have a catering company or a restaurant.
Best book about cheese you’ve read?Steven Jenkins, “The Cheese Primer.”
Would you bait a mousetrap with your cheese?My first response in my head was “no way,” but then I thought if I was about to die and my last taste was Belle Chevre, I would be a happy mouse, so maybe I would.
Know any good cheese-related jokes?Not really a joke, but I do like the phrase “Praise Cheeses!”