Hooked on Cheese: Cheese Shopping with Cheesemakers, Part II: Judy Schad

Here's what pioneering cheesemaker Judy Schad of Capriole Goat Cheese has to say about cheese shopping

In this two-part series, Raymond delves into what cheesemakers value most in a cheese shop. This week, he interviews beloved cheesemaker and maître fromager Judy Schad of Capriole Goat Cheese, producer of award-winning goat cheeses and one of the pioneering women of the American Artisan Cheese movement. (Read Part I here.)

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Raymond Hook: What are some of your favorite places to shop for cheese and why?
Judy Schad:
We have very limited specialty cheese shops in Louisville. The Whole Foods Market in Louisville has the widest variety, and the staff alerts us when they have something special coming in. I also order direct occasionally from cheesemakers, distributors, and Zingerman’s.

What are a couple of attributes you think make a cheese shop great?
Selection, handling, sampling, and a willingness to cut and wrap for the customer.

Do you always introduce yourself when in a cheese shop?
Not always. Sometimes it feels pretentious and/or I want to know how a normal customer is spoken to and treated by the staff.

What do you do when you see your cheese in a shop and it’s not being displayed well?
I give the staff suggestions on better packaging and handling. The geotrichum-ripened cheeses are the hardest to handle. In the early days, I always checked out cheeses like Lingot to see what they looked like; if they were tightly wrapped in plastic and couldn’t breathe, or were gnarly looking and old, that was a red flag for me.

What are some of your personal favorite cheeses?
The list is a long one! Fresh cheeses still sing of the milk with which they were made, and if I could have only one, of course it would be a fresh goat cheese; but really great cottage cheese, fromage blanc, mozzarella, and ricotta are also fantastic. I love Portuguese Azeitão, Comté, Parmigiano, and Montgomery’s Cheddar; as well as French Munster, St. Maure, Pouligny St. Pierre, Lancashire, and anything from Uplands Cheese. For cooking: Gouda and San Joaquin Gold. Whatever is good and on my plate that particular day is my favorite.

Would you ever own a retail cheese shop, or have you in the past?
I briefly owned a small retail case and would love to have a retail shop (if someone else would run it!).

What is your most important suggestion for a new cheese customer on their first visit to a cheese shop?
Sample. Always.


Follow Raymond's food escapades on FacebookInstagram and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James.