What do you get when you cross Swiss cheese with a Hershey’s chocolate bar? If you are celebrated cheesemaker Sid Cook, you get inspired to create Cocoa Cardonna, one of the Carr Valley Cheese Co.’s award-winning cheeses.
Schnucks Markets announced that Cook will be on hand to showcase some of his company’s award-winning cheeses at the 11th annual St. Louis Food & Wine Experience at the Chase Park Plaza from 7-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25. The premier tasting event kicks off three days of wine and food pairings in the event benefiting the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Cook, a celebrity in the American cheese world (featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal), is a fourth generation cheesemaker who literally grew up in a cheese factory and began making cheese at age 11. Over the past 50 years, Cook has become known for unique cheeses, five of which earned awards at the World Cheese Contest in London last year. He currently is the most decorated Master Cheesemaker in the world, according to a news release.
The Carr Valley team specializes in Artisan cheeses, including American originals like the award-winning Apple Smoked Cheddar with an acidic finish tempered with paprika.
“Our four manufacturing plants create nearly five million pounds of cheese each year, a third of which is sold directly to consumers through eight stores. The rest is sold to customers with a variety of needs, from grocery stores to top chefs,” Cook says. “We’ve created 80 different cheeses. We now have 120 employees and buy (milk) from 30 to 40 different family farms—supporting about 140 families with our operation.”
While in St. Louis, Cook will meet with Schnucks cheese experts, sharing information they can pass on to customers.
“Cheese is a very age-old thing. It’s been around for tens of thousands of years. In other parts of the world, cheese varieties are very well known. However in America, it’s Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, Swiss and Blue Cheese…there is so much more out there a cheesemaker can do other than six or eight varieties and the idea of treading on new ground and making new flavor profiles and new products is exciting,” he says.
That includes Carr Valley’s Snow White Goat Cheddar, named best cheese in America in 2008.
“It’s covered with cheese cloth to hold it together and wiped with salted butter to seal it. We use apple cider vinegar and water to create a wonderful and beautiful rind and then it is cured in a similar fashion to that which cheesemakers used 100 years ago,” Cook says.
For Cook, the secret to keeping cheese making exciting is “all about developing the new flavor while preserving the cheeses traditional flavor profile. Things have a tendency to go in circles in this world; the new becomes old and the old becomes new.”
Tickets for the 11th annual St. Louis Food & Wine Experience are available at www.repstl.org/foodandwine. (Online sales conclude at 1 p.m. Jan. 25.) The event runs from noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and 27. Tickets are available at the door.
Schnuck Markets operates 100 stores (including five Logli and six Hilander stores) and 96 in-store pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Schnucks operates 22 specialty cheese shops in stores across the company.