But don’t just take our word for it, we caught up with a Washington dairy farmer, cheesemonger, and chef to follow cheese all the way from the farm to your taste buds. If they can’t convince you of the quality and flavor of local cheese, then go out and try some to see for yourself!
It all starts at Anna Groeneveld’s dairy farm in Sultan, WA. In addition to caring for a herd of 250 cows, Anna truly cares about the quality of milk that’s being produced – which is processed and used in Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. “It’s impressive to see that something small and local can have that impact to make people recognize it,” says Anna, “it comes back to feeling good about what we do.” While proud of being a part of the Beecher’s name, Anna adds “…we make our quality product with the care we provide the animals. It is what you do as a dairy farmer – you take care of your animals.”
Brian Gilbert, the Head Cheesemonger at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is a self-professed “curd-nerd”. A vibrant character working the cheese counter at the Pike Place market Brian jokes “this cheese curd was grass yesterday” though that is not far from true by any means. Because Beecher’s is made with local milk, the milk can become cheese available for sale in under 36 hours – which leads to the unbelievable freshness and taste that the cheesemaker is known for. “I believe that if people know more about their food, they’ll be happier, healthier and just have a greater appreciation of what it is that farmers and food makers, specifically cheesemakers, do” states Brian.
While some of the cheese goes home with shoppers, Beecher’s Cheese is sold to restaurants around Seattle and throughout the state as well. Beecher’s is a favorite of Brock Johnson, the head chef at Dahlia Lounge in Seattle. As a native to the Pacific Northwest, Brock strives to include nothing but local and seasonal ingredients in the dishes he creates. “Cheese is one of my favorite ingredients. It’s really dynamic,” Brock notes. And “When we back up all the way to our farmers that we’re getting these great products from, there’s a ton of work from start to finish that goes into all of our dishes.”