Meet Your Monger: Brie
Meet your Monger: Brie Hurd aka Cheese Buyer aka Breezus aka Knower of All Things Cheese
Welcome to Meet Your Monger! We stand behind the counter, asking you to try this and that, but who are we really?? I, Kiri, pose questions to the crew here at the Cheese Shop and see what they have to say. This week: Brie aka Cheese Buyer aka Breezus aka Knower of All Things Cheese.
What draws you to cheese? How did you get into the cheese business?
Well, as many people in the industry, I kind of got into it by accident. I thought that the Cheese Shop of Concord would be a fun place to work and learn during the summer when I was in college. At the time it was really just a job, and I enjoyed learning the business aspect, tasting all day long, learning customer service, and gaining what I saw then as transferable business skills. Cheese was kind of the avenue for that, but it really wasn’t what I was aiming towards. I haven’t spent my entire life obsessed with cheese, despite my name.
My mom is an amazing cook, so I’ve had a lifelong love for food and I’ve always loved eating, but I don’t think that I really appreciated food until I discovered cheese. Cheese taught me about the individual producers, how they create traditional food with care, and why that is important. Then I started to think differently about the other stuff that I ate. The only job I’ve ever had is cheese, so I feel like it was my avenue to learn about a lot of other things including business, leadership, agriculture, environmentalism, the economy, fair trade, the international market, geography, climate change, cooking.
Tell me about a food memory you have.
The memory I have chosen is probably not what you would expect. Growing up, I went every year with my family to the Cape where we rented a little cottage on Duck Pond in Wellfleet, and we had the entire half pond to ourselves. It was so serene; those are some of my best childhood memories. That was the one week each year when my brother Cam and I were allowed to have Lucky Charms. We would pour ourselves these huge, HUGE bowls of Lucky Charms and go sit at the end of the dock with our feet in the water. We would eat all the cheerio pieces first and then have a huge bowl of soggy marshmallows left…just such joy.
Have you heard they are making a Lucky Charms that are just the marshmallows?
Yes. I am no longer interested in that. But at the time, it was wonderful.
Would you say you are more of a soft cheese person or hard cheese person? Why?
I’m more of a soft cheese person. I think I only realized it because I kept going for the soft cheeses, and even though I love a hard cheese, it’s just not as indulgent or satisfying to me. When I reach for a hard cheese, I like an Alpine because I tend to enjoy the semi-firm texture and the smooth paste, which adds richness. And I think I’m looking for richness in cheese. Recently, Harbison and Epoisses Coupe are like my top, top soft-ripened cheeses. I’m just always in the mood for them. And I also like crackers a lot as opposed to bread, and there’s something so satisfying about the contrast of the creamy, gooey texture of a luxurious soft cheese, and the crispy crunchy of a cracker. That never gets old to me.
I would agree with you about Harbison. I think about it a lot, just in my daily life.
I do, too.
It just comes up sometimes in my brain.
Yes, it’s like a friend. My friend Harbison. I really may name my child that. Stay tuned.
You have some fly sneakers. Which pair is your favorite to wear behind the counter?
I’m gonna say my Supra Skytops because they are breathable, comfortable, I don’t think about it and then I look down and I’m like, whaaatt’sss uuppp. You’re so fly.
Who is your cheese celebrity crush?
Oh my goodness…I feel like there are so many. Can it just be the person I’m a fangirl around?
Ok, Ari Weinzweig [co-founder of Zingerman’s, a gourmet food store]. But that’s also more business, too. The people that I look up to are the people who have mastered the appreciation of cheese, but they’re such good businesspeople that they’ve found a way to leverage cheese, which mean they’re really making a contribution. I think Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman’s is probably number one. Also Betty Koster [affineur a.k.a cheese ager, of our goudas], she’s just so awesome. She’s like the mother of cheese.
Which celebrity, living or dead, would you most like to come visit the store?
It would be Julia Child because I think it would be very comical and entertaining and I think we would have a lot of fun together. And I’d probably try to feed her every single cheese we have.
What is a cheese adventure you would like to go on?
I would say my cheese life will feel complete when I get to see Gruyère being made by hand in a copper vat over an open fire in a chalet on top of a mountain in Switzerland, and I can hear the clanging bells from the cows outside. That’s like a bucket list cheese dream, where I’d just be like "I’m good, I'll be happy forever now." There’s a lot I’d like to explore. I’d like to go to the Savoie, I’d like to go to the Basque, but I think Switzerland and high elevation cheesemaking in the Alps would be all I could ask for.