Andres started out not knowing much about Wisconsin cheese culture, but now he is a seven-month cheesemonger at Fromagination.
“Well, I didn’t know a whole a lot about cheese,” he said. “I felt like this was a good way really to acquaint myself with the world of cheese.”
Andres had already decided why Fromagination was his first pick for employment.
“I always enjoyed coming into the shop. I feel like the environment and the atmosphere Ken [Monteleone, Fromagination’s founder] is trying to convey here in the shop is just the kind of place I wanted to be apart of.”
A cheesemonger’s first day on the job is always a chance to learn. Andres arrived at the shop in early March.
“It was a learning experience,” Andres said. “There were so many kinds of cheese towards winter. It was a relaxed day and I got time and attention to my training.”
According to some customers, Andres has already become an expert!
“I made a cheese plate for some people…actually I made a few cheese plates and they loved them. They were calling me ‘the cheesemaster’ and they were just overjoyed,” he said. “It felt good to be able to make people feel like that.”
But Andres hasn’t always been in the Wisconsin cheese community.
“In South Dakota, [I] worked with kids, [and] graduated school for art…I’m a painter. Met my wife here, and now I work at a cheese shop.”
As with most cheesemongers, Andres has his favorite cheesemakers, one of whom lives here in Dane County and founded Bleu Mont Dairy.
“Willi Lehner, he’s my favorite cheesemaker. I’m sure there are a lot of really cool, awesome people making cheese, but Willi really appeals to my…I guess, independent spirit, and [it] doesn’t hurt that all of the cheeses he makes are basically like my favorite cheese.”
Andres thinks that cheese is a universally popular food.
“Cheese is one of those things where you know even if you don’t have much experience with it… [I] mean it’s delicious,” he said. “And it’s not really an acquired taste…it is an acquired taste, but I would say a lot of cheese isn’t. It’s the kind of thing anybody can pick up and recognize, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’ you know?”
And what is Andres’ favorite part of the cheesemonger job, you may ask?
“Being able to help people find what they love and the joy on their faces,” he said.