New Year's Reflections | December 2015

Wow.  This year has been epic and I shouldn’t expect anything else, really.  Living in New York comes with all sorts of adventures.

I often think incredulously about the day I decided to pursue the development of my cheese cave product. I knew I was stepping off the edge of some cliff, and I hoped I would magically grow a pair (of wings), and make my dream world a little more of a reality. Approximately two years have passed since that first day I stayed up late: drawing on pieces of paper, and imagining an alternative reality where people would be obsessed with naturally made cheese with the same fervor as I. Could artisan, naturally made cheese become popular?  Would the history of naturally made cheese become something sacred and something to behold?  Could old-world cheese making traditions be revitalized, or would they be sacrificed?  On the one hand, the natural cheese world is so niche. My experiences in the artisan cheese world have been intimate and seem to exist within a world unto itself.  The question has always remained in the back of my head: how do we develop an increasing awareness and appreciation for naturally made cheese? My conclusion: it will happen through a combination of epic recipe development, tools to enhance the cheese experience from Farm to Table, and access to events and classes on the subject.  What I feel I need to emphasize is that food is a crucial component of our daily existence, save the occasional spiritualist who has miraculously discovered the secret to eliminating the necessity to eat.  Food at its most basic serves as nourishment, but it can also be an extremely productive form of meditation.  Food encompasses environmental, ecological, cultural, gustatory and biological elements of our lives. For that reason, engaging with food in a mindful manner – cooking, eating, and learning – makes me feel whole.  I see it often has a similar effect on others as well.  So I’ll say it:  Food is my religion if I’ll ever have one.

I’m so happy to be juggling my myriad of projects in New York City.  I look forward to the year ahead bringing more positive advancements toward this larger goal: To educate and engage people in the diverse, nuanced world of naturally made cheese. Below are a list of my New Year’s Resolutions for the year of the company.  I’m excited to share advancements with you as they come along!

New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Eat More Varieties of Cheese: Continue to celebrate cheese diversity.
  2. Collaborate with Food and Design bloggers: We’ll kick off the year as FeedFeed’s new CheeseFeed editor.  We’re so excited to collaborate with this amazing resource platform that brings together phenomenal recipes from around the world. This will only be the beginning for us as part of our mission to spread the “curd” about cheese.
  3. Finalize the Cheese Grotto home model: After over a year of testing and tweaking, we’re seriously looking into launching our home line of cheese storage in 2016.  This will be a year of pitching to investors, and making friends with the people in the industry who believe in our product.
  4. Curate monthly cheese events: The past year of events was encouraging and inspiring.  Every month, many people turned out to celebrate.  We took a break during November and December for the holiday season, so January will be devoted to organizing the coming year
  5. Teach more cheese:  My new private workshop offerings are a step in the direction, but I also look forward to developing three day intensives that completely immerse you in the art of cheese making.  Fingers crossed, they’ll be one coming your way this summer.
  6. Cheese Caramels Continue…My co-founder, Steve Earthman, and I, have really stumbled onto something special with the cheese caramels.  So we will continue with a limited run for Valentine’s Day, and we hope to be at Smorgasburg by the summer. We’ll also be tweaking the recipe so that they are less expensive to ship.
  7. Pair more cheese with drink: It’s funny to say that one of my resolutions is to drink more, but I still don’t believe that I’ve done enough drinking for all the cheese I’ve been eating.  Pairing projects to come in the near future.
  8. Melt more cheese: It’s undeniable that people love melted cheese.  My melty cheese posts have gained the most traction, and it is always an undeniably positive response.  So onward to a year of stretchy, gooey grilled, fried, and baked cheese.
  9. Meet more cheese, food, and design lovers: This is a never ending quest, but I do believe we are stronger in numbers.  So bring it on!  I want to meet and connect with all of you!

What happened in 2015?

  1. Krazy cheese politics: The world of naturally made cheese has been threatened by burgeoning regulations, as discussed in previous Monthly Reflections posts.  It’s been a series of cheese people coming together to protect common interests, while facing brutal business realities.
  2. Advancements in cheese technology: My happiest cheese tech moment was the development a whey fueled electricity plant in France.  Whey is a huge by-product of cheese, and it often proves an environmental problem when produced in large cheese making facilities.  Like nitrogen, too much whey in soil and in water will become toxic to the ecosystem.  France is the leader of integrating cheese making into routine life practices, and this advancement reflects that mentality
  3. I developed an electric version of the Grotto: I’m excited to have updated the model to include electric temperature and humidity controls, to create the most optimal unit available.  The design is modular and very exciting, so I can’t wait to share more in the coming year.
  4. I launched a new website: Our website and blog was given life this year.  Thanks to the help of Sarah E Crowder, I have been able to flex the visual beauty of cheese on nearly every page on the site.
  5. I curated monthly cheese pop ups: As mentioned in the resolutions, cheese loving people came OUT to celebrate cheese culture with me.  Let’s do it all over again, my people.
  6. I gained a full tuition fellowship at The New School that is devoted to Cheese Grotto business development: How convenient it was to attain this fellowship while I am starting my own business.  For the rest of my time at the New School, I’ll be designing my own project proposals for credit.  The results will bring more quality to the Cheese Grotto business as a whole