Prior to my dream job of Cheesemonger, I was working as a Certified Public Accountant at Deloitte & Touche. In search of my professional passion, I quit my job, began to study food, and found myself attracted to cheese. The more that I read, ate, and learned, the more I wanted to keep going. That’s when Kendall and I started hosting Grilled Cheese Club events for friends at our house. While the dinners were designed to revolve around gourmet sandwiches, they quickly evolved into guided cheese tastings and pairings. I began to travel as much as I could, visiting dairies and cheese shops collecting as many samples as possible. I followed that with a trip to France to intern with affineur Herve Mons, and then traveled with Kendall through the Alps stopping whenever we saw a “Fromage” sign. It was an amazing experience. Eventually, with the support and commitment of Kendall, I begin to build our business.
Now I am a full-time cheesemonger with part time accounting responsibilities (old habits die hard). In 2012, I was elected to the Board of Directors for the American Cheese Society where I continue my work as a member of the Judging and Competition Committee through which we (along with other amazing committee members) plan and manage North America’s largest cheese competition. Although job duties often demand otherwise, I have been behind the case since we opened and hope to be there for the rest of my life.
- Favorite Cheese: The one in front of me!
- Favorite Pairing: Ossau-Iraty (Onetik) with Hennepin (Ommegang)
- Ideal Cheese Plate: A single cheese – either a perfect Rush Creek, Epoisses, or Vacherin Mont d’Or and a spoon
- Dream Trip: Whatever trip takes me to find the next great cheese for our case
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Fleur de Sel. Or Tupelo Honey. Or Finocchiona. (I give up. Tough question).
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Come in and find out!
- Cheese-y Nickname: The Cheese Man
- Favorite Milk Type: Mixed Milk
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: Pleasant Ridge Reserve because I’m a little nutty, a little sweet, a little earthy but always very dependable.
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Making you smile and hopefully becoming your friend.
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: Because they would hire me.
- Other Hobbies: Being with Kendall, eating, talking and traveling. Isn’t it great when your job is your hobby?!
How does one exactly become a cheesemonger? I’m still asking that question myself. With a Georgetown University degree in Culture and Politics and a UT masters degree in Latin American Studies, I was working at a local non-profit running a program for immigrant survivors of crimes like human trafficking. John and I knew we wanted to work together someday. (To be honest, I always thought it would be at my nonprofit!) But after running the cheese club out of our house, I quickly realized it wasn’t only John who was becoming obsessed with molds, milks, breeds, producers, and the like. And from there, the rest is history. In a way, it all makes sense. A significant portion of my youth was spent rodeo’ing (yes- even being forced to run for rodeo queen!), showing sheep in 4-H, and occasionally being dragged before sunrise to help my step-father move cattle on his ranch. From watching him, I know exactly how much work goes into maintaining a ranch, caring for your animals, and trying to make a living. (I also know I’m not cut out for it, and therefore quickly nixed any idea of moving to the country to make our own cheese!) By working behind the cheese counter, I can speak to just how much work producers put into their craft. My appreciation and awe for what they do makes every bite of cheese that much more delicious and my excitement for telling you their story that much more important. Years ago, I couldn’t have guessed I’d become a cheesemonger, but I’m very proud today to say that I am one.
- Favorite Cheese: Unanswerable, like choosing your favorite child
- Favorite Pairing: Tomme Crayeuse (overly ripe) and summer tomatoes
- Ideal Cheese Plate: Bijou, Ossau Iraty, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Hopelessly Blue
- Dream Trip: Any trip! Wanting to hit up Ireland and Greece for next two ideal trips...
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Raclette Machine – with Raclette cheese of course! (And cured meats, cornichons, bread, and tomatoes…)
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Creminelli’s Salame al Tartufo
- Cheese-y Nickname: Cheese Ball
- Favorite Milk Type: Blasphemy. Please see answer above about favorite cheese.
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: Winnimere because I’ve always dreamed of being washed in beer, plus I’m firm on the outside but a softie on the inside.
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Meeting new food-loving friends and watching kiddos grow up on our cheese!
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: I couldn’t let John have all the fun for himself.
- Other Hobbies: My life is pretty cheese-centric these days.
I'm not exactly what you would call a "gourmet." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy good food and drink as much as the next guy, but I never really formed a passion for it. Or, more precisely, I hadn't formed a passion for it until my first visit to Antonelli's a little after it opened, becoming one of the first 150 customers. Before that first experience with real, actual cheese, I had no idea how diverse and even outright strange (though entirely wonderful) this once seemingly simple subsection of the dairy category could be. I've found that my appreciation for the tastes and textures of cheese mirror my taste in music: I love the romantic and refined beauty of opera and Beethoven, as well as the unbridled ferocity and raw emotion of thrash metal. Similarly, I savor and have a real appreciation for the milder, subtler cheeses that seem to caress your taste buds just as much as stronger, more complex, and pungent cheeses that dropkick your entire olfactory system.
- Favorite Cheese: Fresh Brebis
- Favorite Pairing: Blue cheese and Blue Heron Farm cajeta
- Ideal Cheese Plate: The one that's in front of me.
- Dream Trip: Whirlwind cheese tour of Spain, Italy, and France
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Salumi!
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Abbaye de Belloc
- Cheese-y Nickname: The Mongerel
- Favorite Milk Type: Sheep
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: EATEN because I’m DELICIOUS.
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Let's be honest - it's the discount.
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: It's the place where I fell in love with cheese.
- Other Hobbies: Pretending to be a writer.
- Favorite Cheese: As if I could pick just one?! It really depends on my mood, the season and what taste sensation I'm craving at the moment. That being said... Red Hawk, Dancing Fern, Sophia, Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Bohemian Blue always put a smile on my face.
- Favorite Pairing: Red Hawk on a Maple Castleton Cracker with a Widow's Kiss cocktail to wash it down.
- Ideal Cheese Plate: Again, totally mood/seasonally dependent. Come in the store and let's make one together!
- Dream Trip: A toss up between a Neal's Yard Dairy inspired tour of the UK or anything involving baby Nubian goats or just baby any goat
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Blue Heron Farm Bourbon Cajeta
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Robert Lambert's Raspberry Champagne Jam on a Dick Taylor Fleur de Sel Chocolate Bar
- Cheese-y Nickname: DJ Creme Fraiche--my choice samples get the party started! Woop! Woop!
- Favorite Milk Type: They're all delightful, but I do love my goats!
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: Coolea, because I'm sweet, a bit nutty and good with whisky!
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: There are so many reasons I love what I do! My favorite monger luxury is sharing the first taste of a freshly opened wheel!
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: Amazing atmosphere-- who wouldn't want to spend their days surrounded by the best cheese and cheese-lovers in town?
- Other Hobbies: Classic Cocktails--making them, drinking them and geeking out far too much about their history; Record collecting (especially old Bollywood); Vermouth! I make my own & am always looking for flavors to play with; Film (see you at Terror Tuesday!)
My passion for cheese has grown with my passion for beer. My Dad began brewing when I was about seven years of age, so it doesn't make it difficult to understand why I started brewing about a year and a half ago. The homebrew store in Austin also happened to sell cheesemaking kits and the ball started rolling from there. In pursuit of expanding my knowledge of cheese, I took a cheese making workshop with Pure Luck Dairy in Dripping Springs in January 2011 and have been making basket chevre anytime I get the chance ever since. I continued to drop off samples of my goat cheese until the cheese shop hired me, and I am thoroughly excited to be apart of the team and cannot wait to help you friendly folks with some cheese and beer pairings. Cheers and see you soon!
- Favorite Cheese: Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. Coupole
- Favorite Pairing: Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout with Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue
- Ideal Cheese Plate: All goat’s milk cheeses, including Coupole, Kunik, Chevre d'Or, Chevre Noir, and Montenebro. I’d also want an abundance of duck salami, speck and petite jesu, along with an assortment of berries, blackberries, raspberries and Strawberries, some pistachios
- Dream Trip: A U.S. brewery road trip with a trunk full of cheese to pair along the way.
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Laguiole Bread knife
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Widmers 10 Year Cheddar with our Shallot Confit
- Cheese-y Nickname: Cheese Mongol
- Favorite Milk Type: I'd hate to be bias when it comes to cheese because I love it all but I'm obviously a sucker for the Goat. By the looks of my ideal cheese plate, I think I gave myself away with that one.
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: triple creme because everyone loves a good triple creme.
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Figuring out people's palates and giving them a taste of something that they'll love.
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: To try lots of different cheeses and have the opportunity to collaborate on beer and cheese pairing events
- Other Hobbies: Brewing beer, making cheese, gardening, cooking and collecting VHS tapes
Stumbling upon a Cheese Festival in Seattle in 2009, my first experience with the world of real cheese was honestly a bit overwhelming. Hoards of people in line sampling every single cheese imaginable; my palate not yet trained for the complexities of the flavors, they sadly all tasted fairly similar to me. One year later, I would be working behind the cheese counter expanding my palate. A chance job as cheesemonger at Forward Foods in Oklahoma City ignited and nurtured my passion for all things cheese. My favorite hobby became breaking into that new wheel and discussing its flavors. After a brief stint at an office job while finishing my pre-med classes, I realized that my heart is, and will forever be, in cheese. So I relocated to Austin and contacted Antonelli's Cheese Shop with hopes of possible employment. After seeing the shop and meeting with John, Kendall, and the rest of the team, I knew that the shop was the right fit for me! And lucky for me, the feelings were mutual. Come on in and let's talk cheese!
- Favorite Cheese: Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Wait, no, Dante. or Midnight Chevre. Who am I kidding, it changes minute to minute.
- Favorite Pairing: Adelbert's Tripel B and Le Marechal. This nutty and herbal pairing won my heart. It was love at first bite.
- Ideal Cheese Plate: Rush Creek Reserve and a baguette. That's it. If Rush Creek is not in season, I'd go for, I don't know, whatever is in season and is blowing my mind.
- Dream Trip: Take up Mary Quicke on her offer to visit her farm in England. Then off to Spain for goats and sheep!
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Cour-Cheverny Wine
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Cajeta from Blue Heron Farm
- Cheese-y Nickname: Dreamboat Cheesedealer
- Favorite Milk Type: Though it's always been sheep, goat is starting to come out ahead.
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: dancing fern because, well, it's pretty obvious if you're around me long enough.
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Exposing people to the world of cheese, whether artisanal cheese in general with cheese newbies or new cheeses to those who are more experienced.
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: So I could surround myself with other cheese lovers. Nothing is better than a cheese lover, other than cheese itself, of course.
- Other Hobbies: Making up new dance moves, strolling on my bike, unintentionally creating a sing-song environment (sorry, everyone).
I fell for Austin when visiting years ago and initially moved here to be the lead sausage-maker at local charcuterie-producer and "butcher shop", Dai Due. I always stayed in touch with Kendall and John, however, knowing I'd be returning to my foremost culinary passion (ahem, cheese) soon enough and wanting to work specifically for such an enterprising and creative business as Antonelli's - clearly, it all worked out! All the honing of my palate throughout my food-loving career has led me to a greater appreciation of the process behind and applications of these gorgeous products we sell at ACS. I look forward to using it to help our customers plan their dinner and holiday parties- I am so looking forward to seeing y'all in the shop!
- Favorite Cheese: These days it would have to be Pure Luck Feta- so simple, but such a gorgeous representation of seasonality and of the high quality of a local cheesemaker's milk. I'm loving crumbling it over all the spring greens that are popping up!
- Favorite Pairing: La Quercia Speck Americano with INNA Jam's Seascape Strawberry preserves and Manchester from Consider Bardwell Farm...plus a bottle of Tripel B from local brewer Adelbert's, while we're at it! The flavor combination = Perfection!
- Ideal Cheese Plate: Saint Maure, Dancing Fern, and Pecorino Riserva- these sunny Austin days have me craving fruity, grassy, piquant flavors.
- Dream Trip: Back to Ireland! I went for the first time last year and was lucky (ahem: pushy) enough to visit every cheese shop in every town we stopped in, but a cheesemaking apprenticeship in County Cork would be a dream come true.
- Other Favorite Shop Product: I am completely smitten with Katz's Rock Hill Olive Oil: peppery, just buttery enough, and with notes of bitter greens, it brightens fresh cheeses and helps merge them with the dishes I make at home. I go through a great deal of this stuff!
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Dick Taylor's Fleur de Sel chocolate bar: who doesn't love salty-sweet combos?! I have loved pairing the Fleur de Sel bar with salty, firmer blues like La Peral or Bayley Hazen in our cheese classes.
- Cheese-y Nickname: I'm going to give this one to my coworker Dan, who dubbed me "Cave-Aged Kara-dona" after one of our Antonelli's cheeses, the Cardona. I've had others, but I've got to hand it to him for uniqueness!
- Favorite Milk Type: This varies seasonally - if not daily - but I'll give it to goat's milk. Bright, lactic, zesty, and earthy, goat's milk flavor spectrum runs the gambit while always staying true to its terroir.
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: hmmm...Ticklemore. Earthy and quiet at first, but packs a bite, is zesty, sweet, and gets along with people!
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Being the messenger: learning the stories behind the cheesemakers and their herds and sharing those tales with my customers. Cheesemakers have such rich, personal histories and it's my honor to represent them and share their passion through my own.
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: The contagious passion of all who work here. I've been told that we mongers are a "hyper" group and it's true: it's a career that, if you love it, you get entirely enthused and inspired by.
- Other Hobbies: Reading, writing, photography, scouting out swimming holes,hiking with my dogs, traveling as much as can be, limitless dinner parties with my friends.
Honestly, my true appreciation for good food didn’t develop until Michael Pollan’s writing introduced me to the farm-to-table and slow food movements in America. The ideas combined many of my personal interests, from health and animal welfare to culture and society. Eventually I realized I wanted to work in advocacy of good food but wasn’t yet sure in what capacity. I started out in the field, literally, volunteering with various local farms and eventually some out of state as well. While I love getting my hands in the dirt and hanging out with farm animals, I also gained more fascination and appreciation for artisan food production – especially cheese! It’s so satisfying to learn the stories of the artisans, their animals, and how a cheese is crafted. I’m a proud native Austinite and I feel grateful that I’ve been given the chance to exercise my passion at one of the best businesses in town! Come see me!
- Favorite Cheese: Rush Creek Reserve, a spoonful of heaven
- Favorite Pairing: not fixed, whatever delights my taste buds at the moment
- Ideal Cheese Plate: St.Maure, Coolea, Stilton
- Dream Trip: Tour of some of the best cheese operations in Europe, working with animals on the land, in the creamery, and then enjoying the fruits of the labor!
- Other Favorite Shop Product: Alle-Pia Tartufo Salami
- Go-To-Product To Evoke Customer Happy Dance: Blue Heron Cajeta
- Cheese-y Nickname: Queso Queen
- Favorite Milk Type: Impossible to choose!
- If I Were A Cheese, I'd Be: Tomme Crayeuse because I’m soft and pleasant, yet earthy and interesting.
- My Favorite Thing About Being A Cheesemonger: Sharing the love and appreciation for great food and expanding my palate.
- Why I wanted To Work At ACS: I had a feeling that this team was an amazing group of fun and talented people. I wanted to be in an environment where I was constantly learning and felt inspired by others.
- Other Hobbies: Yoga, reading about food, farming, and culture, aspiring to be a decent home-cook, and when possible, traveling and checking out the food culture in other places