A Michelin and A Mom is pleased to welcome Lisa Futterman as our first guest blogger! Cheese. Everyone loves cheese – we’re a family that goes through more cheese than milk (and no, not those big blocks of orange cheese – we like the “good stuff”). Lisa is friend and colleague to Jason and readily agreed to be our very first guest blogger. Read on……
My name is Lisa Futterman and I am a cheesemonger. There, I said it! More precisely, I am the wholesale cheesemonger for Pastoral here in Chicago, which means I sell cheese to more than 45 local (and not so local!) restaurants, hotels, caterers, and specialty grocers. I met Chef J when we worked together at the Elysian Hotel…they have had a tremendous cheese program from the beginning, and are doing a great job promoting domestic artisan cheese.
Honestly, I love my job, because it perfectly fits my personality and skill set. As a former chef and cooking instructor, I know my way around the professional kitchen, and my “paid hobby” as a freelance food and wine journalist got me introduced to just about everyone worth knowing in the Chicago restaurant scene. Now I get to talk to chefs every day, help them curate their cheese programs, train their front of house to improve sales, and eat a lot of cheese. To start out my term as guest blogger, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about Pastoral Artisan Cheese Bread and Wine, (www.pastoralartisan.com) the company I work for. This post is timely, as we are hosting our first Artisan Producer event this Saturday, April 30, and if you are in the area you just ought to stop by. It’s free, and it represents exactly why the owners, Ken Miller and Greg O’Neill, opened Pastoral in 2004. (http://www.pastoralartisan.com/ArtisanProducerFestival.pdf)
Here, in Greg’s words, is what the festival is all about:
“We have cheese makers who produced the top 3 cheeses in North America at the ACS judging and competition (out of nearly 1500 cheeses) – Uplands Dairy (WI), Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery (VT) and Spring Brook Farm (VT). We are also thrilled to welcome Georgia’s Sweet Grass Dairy, maker of our beloved Green Hill! We have our award winning Pastoral bread baker who was part of the first American team ever to win the prestigious coupe de monde de la boulangerie (Jory Downer of Bennison’s Bakery.) We have cheese makers from every region of the country, including ACS past presidents David Gremmels (Rogue Creamery, OR) and Allison Hooper (Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, VT) and a slew of amazing producers from our own backyard in the Midwest – from Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc.
We have two of the most beloved local breweries, upstart Half Acre and established success Goose Island and its master brewer Greg Hall, plus we have some of Michigan’s finest wine makers represented, including Shady Lane and L Mawby.”
Can you feel the passion? This excitement about artisan products represents exactly why I work at Pastoral. I get to sell the best products to the best people. Simple as that!
Now, Jay asked me to challenge him and his sister to source and cook with a particular cheese, a tough assignment as I am not as familiar with West Coast cheeses. But one that I do know happens to be a favorite, Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk. This washed rind triple cream is made from organic milk, so it is rich and stinky and just fun to eat. Washed rind cheeses can be difficult to cook with, as they get even stinkier as they heat up…so I challenge you two to create a warm appetizer dish that celebrates the funk!
Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Until next time…Lisa
Let the cheese hunting begin!