Chris, Oryana West’s cheesemonger, knows a thing or two about cheese. Before Chris landed at West’s cheese island, he worked at the Wheatsville Co-op in Austin, Texas for 11 years. While there he learned about ordering cheese and also learned to make big batches of fresh mozzarella, 70 lbs at a time. He visited Texas dairy farms and also received some cheese training from Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor.
Questions for Chris:
What is your favorite hard and soft cheese?
My favorite hard cheese is Ewephoria. It’s an aged sheep’s milk gouda made in Holland. Soft cheese would have to be the Delice. Left out at room temperature it practically melts on its own.
What is something new and interesting you recently learned about cheese?
A professor in Nottingham, U.K., is developing a method to create other colors to produce what makes “blue” cheese. Such as red, green and pinks!
What cheeses sell really well?
We sell 45 lbs of Leelanau Cheese raclette every week. That’s a lot for a single cheese. It’s made right here in Leelanau County and people come in just for that.
I cut 90 lbs of Parmesan cheese every 2 weeks. The Parmesan wheels weigh between 88 and 92 lbs. Parmesan gets softer as you cut toward the center of the wheel. The rind is naturally hard from the maturation process and it’s stamped with the generation of the family that made it. This one had the number 20 stamped on it, so 20 generations of Italian families have been making this cheese at the same creamery.
Are you doing tastings every week?
Actually, we have tastings every day, so no matter when you come in you’ll get to try something.