15 January 2013
Masters of Cheese Highlight: Gordon Edgar
Rainbow Grocery San Francisco
And we're back! We've got the Masters of Cheese blog series back for another interview with Gordon Edgar from Rainbow Grocery Coop in San Francisco. This established cheese-buyer and all around cheese fan has a published book, as well as years of cheese-mongoring experience.
RCC: What is your background? How long have you been in the cheese business?
GE: I grew up in the Bay Area and have been the cheese buyer at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco since 1994. My cheesy memoir, Cheesemonger: a Life on the Wedge, was published in 2010 by Chelsea Green
RCC: When buying cheese, what are the most important aspects that you look for?
GE: First, does it taste good? A great story means nothing if no one wants to eat the finished product. Second, is care taken in the shipping/packaging? There's no use making great cheese if it doesn't make it to the store in good shape. Third, does it fill a niche or is it an udgrade on a cheese we already have? Fourth, OK you can tell me your story now.
RCC: What are some of the trends you see happening in today's cheese market?
GE: This isn't exactly breaking news, but more and more people are asking for locally-made or locally-sourced food. We're an old hippie natural foods co-op so a lot of our customers were ahead of that curve, but even they would happily buy imported cheese until a few years ago. Now they practically want to go milk the cows themselves. Customers are also increasingly asking for grass-based dairy products as well, for their own health and for the health of the mammal getting milked.
RCC: Rumiano Cheese Co. is the first cheese company to receive Non-GMO verification by the Non-GMO Project. Do you think we will start to see more companies get verified? How important do you think it is for the future of cheese, and food in general?
GE: It's a huge issue for our customers. I hope other companies follow this lead. It's too bad Monsanto defeated Prop 37, eh?
RCC: What advice do you have for people when selecting cheese?
GE: Ask for tastes. Don't buy anything the looks ugly in a bad way. Only buy from someplace that sells a lot of cheese. Buy something you know you'll like and something adventurous on the same trip. Ask your local cheesemonger for help.
RCC: What is your favorite cheese? Any particular reason why?
GE: If I picked one the others would be upset. Hahaha.
Right now I'd go for the Rush Creek from Uplands Creamery in Wisconsin. Uplands is a raw milk, grass-based dairy and Rush Creek is a bark-wrapped cheese in the style of Vacherin Mont D'or. It's earthy, grassy, mustardy, rich, creamy, oozy, and all-around awesome. It's only around for a couple of months a year so it's my favorite today.
RCC: Is there any advice you would like to give about cheese and what it takes to be a "Master of Cheese?"
GE: Taste everything you can get your hands on. Even if you don't like it, it'll teach you something about cheese.
You can contact Gordon at the email listed below. Be sure to check out the links below for more information on Gordon and the art of cheese-mongoring.