San Francisco Days: Chevoo
When I tell you that I really did the most in San Francisco, I'm not exaggerating. From working the Fancy Food Show and the Cheesemonger Invitational to sitting on a rooftop hanging with some Cheesemonger friends, I did it all. One thing that I was very excited about was being able to visit a couple of my favorite producers. If you follow me on Instagram maybe you've seen the pictures of me promoting a company by the name of Chevoo come across your feed more than once. I've been actively apart of their street team since October and I've been trying to get Seattle really excited about this new product. In that vein, I went to the production facility and got to see how it all gets put together and to hear the story of its creation.
Gerard Tuck used to work in finance. Maybe you've heard a similar story and have wondered "How does someone working in finance end up in the cheese world?". In Gerard's case, he had a bit of luck on his side. Gerard had Will Studd as a close connection and had done some financial advising for Will's Australian import/export business that tied Gerard directly to the cheese world. When Gerard was ready to leave the world of finance, he found himself with an opportunity to work with Will in that business. It was a steep learning curve but he maneuvered through the years of bumpy roads to become very successful and knowledgable. Through this time, he noticed some keys trends that were happening in AU. Marinated cheeses were dominating in a way that demanded a closer look. They were used as a food to bring people together and nearly everyone always had them in their fridge most of the time. The American market, on the other hand, had no concept of marinated cheese so Gerard saw an opportunity to share something new. He took his family to California so he could study business at Stanford and as the time on his visa quickly ran out, he knew it was time to get to work.
Within the past year and a half, Chevoo has grown quickly. While this is great for any business, it also comes with its fair share of difficulties. They out grew their space rather quickly so money was needed to invest in a more long term facility that could supply their rapid growth. The conveyor machinery had to be custom made for the hand packing of each jar and made to accommodate the future needs of up to 16 hand packers at a time. The area in Healdsburg is also home to wineries, breweries, bakeries, and even a pickle production plant (which is actually right next door to Chevoo so in certain rooms you get the sweet smell of pickles being made!). The support for artisan producers in Sonoma is really like no other place so it makes good business sense to set up in a community of other products being made with the same attention and care.
OK, so we have discussed how Chevoo got started but WHAT IS IT? Well, it's a delicious marinated goat cheese. So, I don't know the history of marinated cheeses and a quick google search didn't reveal anything outstanding but I DO know that pickling and marinating foods has been a sure fire way of preserving foods for eons. Once we as humanity figured out that if you keep something drenched in oil it stays better longer, we also started figuring out that if you add flavor to the oil it will impart itself on the cheese. This is exactly what Chevoo does. They infuse the oil with a flavor for 4-8 weeks and they mix another flavor in to the actual curd of the cheese so each component has flavor. The way that they mix in your mouth is what makes it so heavenly. Often you will get a strong flavor up front and it will end on a completely different note. I think the Aleppo-Urfa Chili and Lemon shows that the most. It starts with a bright, lemon flavor and it ends with a warm heat that builds on the back. It's a long process but that's what makes it so delicious. It's unique and there is really nothing else quite like it on the market.
That being said, Chevoo has hired me to do demos in the Seattle metro so I've had a constant stream of product in my house at almost all times. The joy of the work that I do now is that I get to decide which products I support and so while Chevoo has supported me, I support them. I love their products and am happy to have a working relationship with them.
Hopefully, you are now hungry and want to find some in your local stores. Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market, and PCC should have at least a couple flavors on their shelf in Seattle. The distribution is growing in other markets around the country so be sure to check the website for an updated list in your area. A new smaller size 4 oz "Picnic pack" should be starting to make it's way on to the shelves soon but the 7oz "Party pack" should be more readily available.
Now go get you some!