Along the way, The Lady and I have allowed a few of our cheese friends to become “regular” friends. Kala Nyx is one of those.
The Lady and Kala worked together when The Lady was the Cheese Whiz at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer and Kala was a merchandiser for DPI… yep, the same DPI that once blocked my website from access by its employees… but I’m not bitter… and after my “Call Out”
, DPI lifted the ban and we all made nice… well, most of us made nice…
The Lady moved on; Kala moved on; I stayed right here writing about cheese; but we stayed in touch and then the strangest occurrence of all, I fell in love with the enchanting Kala… The Brain was not happy; I was “written up”… how annoying… it was my second warning… one more and The Brain
threatened all kinds of havoc to be wreaked upon me… I think he’s bluffing… but I digress…
Spaulding Gray: Kala, ‘sup? Since your move the Market of Choice, I miss seeing you as often; but you’re always in my heart…
Kala: Spaulding, it’s no secret how I feel about you. My own felines hiss when I come home after hanging with you and The Lady.
SG: Kala, let’s start with a little bit about you for our loyal readers who may not know you the way I do…
: I’m honored to be a part of your Year of the Cheesemonger
! I remember when I first started “doing cheese” and people would ask if I was a Cheesemonger and I said no that I was a Cheese Steward because I sent the cheese off to happy homes. I thought mongering dealt with mass and more of a company buyer type of thing. Now I am the company buyer and I guess I am a Cheesemonger after all!
I’ve worked with food in one way or another for over 24 years, mostly on the restaurant side of the biz. In August of 2006 I went on a quest for insurance and a 401K which are not always available in the family owned places where I usually made my living. I found myself with a job as a cashier at Market of Choice
in Eugene, Oregon. While I was happy with the company, I was quickly restless in the check stand and got remarkably lucky when I had the chance to apply to be a Cheese Steward, even though I had no idea how to steward cheese.
During my interview for the position I had the eerie feeling that I had found where I was supposed to be, all my past work in kitchens and dining rooms had led me to this magical new land of cheese and other fun goodies! I was a Cheese Steward for Market of Choice in Eugene, then in West Linn,OR for almost 5 years when I decided to see what was happening in other parts of the industry. I was a Merchandiser Specialist for DPI Specialty Foods for a year and value the experience I gained through my time there. I was able to work all over the NW opening cheese counters for various retailers and educating people on the products I’d come to feel such a connection to. I even got to meet, befriend and slave in the Cheese Mines with The Lady! I returned to Market of Choice in June of 2012 as the Buyer and Merchandiser for the Specialty Cheese Department. I’m honored to be back with the talented tribe of people that I get to work with and represent. I’m humbled by the opportunity I have to promote our amazing producers. I’m thrilled to have a job that is connecting our customers to where their food comes from and who it comes from. This are the things that keep me bouncing out of bed everyday and why I’m proud to be chosen by the Cheese! (SG: Cheese does cheese us; it’ almost as though we have no choice in the matter…)
Spaulding: And now for those pesky questions I like to ask:
1. Your favorite Cheese Pairing:
Kala: I’ve got an insatiable sweet tooth so here are some of my favorites: Delice de Bourgogne with Harvest Song Sour Cherry Preserves; Gorgonzola Dolce stuffed in dried dates then sprinkled with raw sugar; Saint Agur with Boatstreet Cafe Pickled Plums and Bellavitano Gold with chunks of dark chocolate. (SG: Holy smokes, my sweet tooth is aching just thinking about these pairings…)
2. Local Hero’s Cheese Plate:
Kala: Fern’s Edge Blueberry Ginger Chevre, Jacob’s Creamery Bloomy,Ancient Heritage Juniper,La Mariposa Pepper Chubut, Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue, Olympic Provisions Saucisson d’Arles, Albina City Nuts Sweet and Spicy Hazelnuts, Our Favorite Foods Rose’s Rosemary Lemon Beans, Rose City Pepperheads Thai Mandarin Pepper jelly, La Panzanella Sesame Croccantini. (SG: Now that’s a cheese plate; how many folks are you feeding?)
3. Favorite grilled cheese:
Kala: Double Creme Brie with Duck Prosciutto, fresh tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, caramelized onions, Fallot Walnut Dijon on a nice seedy, nutty bread.
4. Tell us something non-cheesy about yourself:
Kala: I’ve officiated at 30 weddings, some traditional, some far from traditional!
5. If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or historical, who would it be and why?
Kala: Mae West-She was a revolutionary, a rule breaker and an amazing woman that I’ve quoted for years. I’d just love to sit and hear her talk! (SG: I am reminded of that quote: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”)
SG: Kala, thank you for taking the time to sit with me and answer a few questions. You’re definitely a 4 Paws Cheesemonger…