Hooked On Cheese: Interview with Erika Kubick of Cheese Sex Death
I first met Erika Kubick at the 2018 American Cheese Society Conference & Judging in Pittsburgh, PA. I was familiar with Kubick’s website Cheese Sex Death and I’d already joined the ranks of her 22,000 Instagram followers and 14,000 Facebook friends, but I’d never had a chance to speak to her in person. While she’s made her name as a sassy cheese gal, I soon found out that she wasn’t just about provocative posts: she is a real cheese connoisseur who’s extremely knowledgeable and passionate.
Raymond Hook: What is your cheese work experience?
Erika Kubick: I became a cheesemonger in 2013 and worked at Pastoral for a little over a year.
How do you describe the cheese events you host?
My events usually follow the same format, and I like to think of them as [cheese] church services, complete with a sermon and Eucharist. We learn how to worship “Cheesus” with a brief 101, then taste through about five cheeses, each with their own accompaniment. It's intimate so as to facilitate a lot of discussion about each person’s tasting experience.
What is the source of your passion for cheese?
Mainly, it's delicious! But I'm also intrigued by cheese’s story and cultural significance. I love old world cheeses for their history, and I love how American cheesemakers are making their own riffs on the classics. I do feel very spiritual when eating cheese. Cheese is a product that results from a perfect, controlled collaboration between man, animal and earth. It's a labor of love worthy of worship! It definitely goes beyond pleasure for me, but the fact that it's so delicious and fun to eat is what pulled me in and keeps me around.
Where do you want your love of cheese to take you professionally?
I've only just gone full-time with my business and my head is constantly swirling with ideas for new events and activations. I don't know where it's all going for me, but my overarching goal is to make artisan cheese a larger part of the American lifestyle. People always think it's so "European" to have a cheese plate for a meal, but why isn't it American, too? I think people just need a little nudging and education. It's a privilege to be a part of this movement.
What are your three all-time favorite pairings?
Easy: Dark chocolate and blue cheese, pickles and washed rinds, and candied nuts with Alpines. They're all obvious to me at this point, but I'm always in the mood for those snacks!
Who in the cheese world inspires you?
Tenaya Darlington is my hero. Her blog was the first one I ever read, and it's what made me want to be a cheesemonger. I adore her. My first cheese books were by Max McCalman, so he is definitely a big inspiration, too. I love his descriptions and approach. I also adore Tia Keenan and Liz Thorpe for their brilliant writings. Of course, the American goat ladies, too. The whole cheese family inspires me – it's a tightknit group of amazing, accepting people.
Beer, wine or cocktails: which pairs better with cheese?
Cider, if I have to choose one. It's so easy. But I'm always a beer person. A wedge and a chilled brew are the perfect meal, and it's my dinner more often than not.
What do you do when you are not cheesing it up?
Usually, I'm eating dumplings in Chinatown. I love discovering cultures through my stomach! When I don't have any more room to eat, I'm at the movies, thrifting, or planning out the next meal with my friends. I love traveling, too!
Last question: are the majority of your followers male or female?
It’s about 2/3 female and 1/3 male. My target audience is definitely female. I consider my brand very feminist, and am really looking to empower people with new knowledge.