Mariah Christensen has every cheese lover’s dream job — traveling, tasting and deciding which of the world’s cheddars, goudas and mozzarellas should be sold at Harmons Grocery Stores in Utah.
The 32-year-old specialty cheese buyer is good at it, too.
She recently was inducted into the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, the French name for the International Cheese Guild. She’s only the second Utah resident to be accepted into the worldwide organization that promotes the art of cheese making and education.
At any one time, Harmons carries between 150 and 200 cheeses, with new and seasonal items rotated in regularly, said Christensen. In addition to being the “big cheese” and putting together the selection, Christensen leads the cheese monger certification program for all 18 Harmons stores, said co-owner Bob Harmon.
“When it comes to cheese, Mariah’s knowledge and excitement is contagious,” he said. “She is proud to share her knowledge with other Harmons cheese mongers and our customers.”
Utah cheese fans can take a cheese class from Christensen — and other Utah experts — during The Natural History Museum of Utah’s fifth annual Chocolate and Cheese Festival, Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25, at the Rio Tinto Center east of the University of Utah. (See box below for more details.)
In advance of the event, we asked Christensen how she got her start, her favorite cheese and how to go beyond orange cheddar…