Updated: May 19
We plan to celebrate our 25th year of cheesemaking all year long, and part of that celebration includes honoring some of the rock stars that have supported us along the way. First in this series is Chantal's Cheese Shop in Pittsburg, who happen to be celebrating their 5th year in business!
How did your business start?
"I have to go back to the story of how I became a cheesemonger in the first place! I was getting married 11 years ago, and my mom and I went to pick out some cheeses for the cheese plate (very small wedding) at Country Butcher in Kennett Square, PA, they had only a 4" case, and this little old lady talked to me about cheese like it was poetry!
Being French, I thought I knew about cheese, because I just ate so many cheeses in my life, but no one ever really TALKED about cheese! And this changed my life. As we were leaving, I told my mom that this is who I wanted to be! My mom told me that maybe one day I will have my own little cheese shop, and at the time I laughed. But after getting married, Chris and I went back to NYC where we lived at the time, and I started my career as a cheesemonger! A year later my mom passed away unexpectedly, and we moved to Pittsburgh shortly after. In Pittsburgh, I couldn't find a place where I could be this old lady talking about cheese to people, so after a few years, we opened Chantal's Cheese Shop. Named after my mom who saw my future!"
What's your philosophy/what sets you apart?
"We are a very small cheese shop that does fresh cut cheese, with a focus on small artisan cheese makers from the US and from around the world. We also believe that cheesemongers are the storytellers of the cheese world, and we are really focused on education! We do a ton of classes where we deep dive into everything about cheese... cheese history, making, culture, etc.. We're putting a ton of effort into turning our education philosophy into reality, and this includes supporting our employees in their personal cheese journeys too! We have started a 4-day work week for our employees, including 3 hours of dedicated study time. We really believe that education is key. And also fun! The more you learn about cheese, the more you want to learn about it!"
How did you discover/find/hear about our cheese?
"At this point... I do not even remember how your cheese came into my life, as I feel it was always around me, but I know that it was one of my favorites! We have carried your cheese at our shop from day one! Proof is that on our grand opening day 5 years ago, we sampled Appalachian tomme all day!"
What's your favorite cheese dish/presentation/or pairing?
"I cook with cheese all the time! I am French... so cheese is part of my diet! But I really love making pizza! Sometimes you take the time to make the dough, the sauce, etc... or you buy a frozen dough (or even buy a frozen pizza!) and then just put some of the best cheese you have, and it is always satisfying. Pizza lets the cheese shine! And you can have a million combinations! You can never get it wrong, so long as you are using quality artisan cheese!"
What have you got coming up in the near future that you'd like to share?
"We are celebrating our 5-year anniversary this month! I still can't believe how fast time goes, but this year is a big year, as we've managed to hire an extra person to finally be able to establish a 4 day work week, (and no, they do not have longer days) where everyone is on salary instead of hourly wages, 2 weeks paid vacations, study time, and incentive plan. We're ready to move into this next phase of our business where we continue to develop our reputation as a place that celebrates and loves cheese!"