Owner. Eater. Drinker.
I really can’t remember not thinking about food. Actually, it’s more than thinking, I love cooking too. I was interested early on in my life. In grade school my mom worked part time and in the 60’s that wasn’t very usual. She needed help when she got home from work and gave me a couple of recipes cards to get things started. Ideas the nurses shared and pizza burgers were a huge hit at St Mary’s!
After success with that pizza burger, I was certain that being a chef was my future. I read and re-read the only two cookbooks my Mom had, Betty Crocker and a spiral bound Bisquick Cook Book. I watched Julia Child on Saturday afternoons and later The Galloping Gourmet and Mr Food.
I moved from pizza burgers to cinnamon rolls and then… cheese soufflé! The kitchen seemed to calling me, because my first job was a candy girl at the Oakview Theater. Well ok… Candy, popcorn and hot dogs, that’s food when you are 15! But, then I got hired at Madonna Towers as a part time salad and dessert prep cook at 16. I loved that job. I never did master tomato aspic though, the celery always floated to the top. But, I made a great rhubarb crisp and mastered wedge salads.
Marrying into the restaurant business 9 years later keep the love affair with food, (and my husband) going. Jerry was a cook at the Bank Restaurant, I was a waitress. I didn’t know that he actually owned the place. I just thought he was funny and knew a lot about cars. My 1970 Nova seemed to always need repairs. So we fell in love, got married and for the next 30 years we did restaurants. Mostly him, I stayed home with my three kids but dabbled from time to time with menus and the like, when needed.
With the threat of an empty nest coming I decided to take one more plunge into the food world. I wanted to open a specialty food shop. I wanted at my fingertips, all the things you read about in Bon Appétit but couldn’t find in a regular grocery store. Rochester lacked artisan and imported cheeses, so I began to research how to add cheese, and how to actually run a cheese shop. It was daunting and even though it was only a few years ago, specialty cheese were just starting to show up in the midwest. There was not a lot of information or help out there. But I did it!
My first little shop was all mine, but kind of limping along. The thing that made sense was to add a café, so I could highlight all those things from the market. So, I dragged my husband out of retirement and right back right into the soup. My little shop moved to a bigger shop. We went through a lot of gyrations over the next 5 years.
In the middle of all of that, The American Cheese Society announced the plan to certify people that work with cheese, like sommeliers. I wanted that certification. I had to study. Study a lot. Not my thing. I whined about it for a year. I flew to Raleigh NC and took the test in Aug of 2012. I fretted while I waited for the results and finally found out a couple of months later that I had joined the ranks of the first class, of 121, world wide, first time ever, cheese professionals. That number grows each year as does the love for cheese. It’s all a good thing.
So we juggled the market/café combo and decided to split them up. It was a little emotional for me. In the end though, I now have three distinct places, (hey! just like my 3 kids!) and I love each one for what it is. And yes today and everyday, I’m still thinking about food.