I first met Nathan Aldridge in Dallas, Texas at Murray’s Cheese Basic Skills and Red Jacket Training classes. June in Dallas was hot and muggy; miserable weather and I was in heaven. I had just joined the Murray’s National Retail Operations as a Set-up Specialist for Kroger. Nathan was training our class; taking us through the hoops of opening, merchandising and training for the Murray’s shops in Kroger stores.
For me, it was love at first sight. Nathan is one of the nice guys; down-to-earth; funny; what you see is what you get. A not so common trait for some New Yorkers**… but wait… Nathan’s not from New York… Had I been thirty years younger (you have no idea how hard it is to admit that number…) and single (you have no idea how glad I am to admit that… actually I have been married almost as long as Nathan has been alive…ouch…). For all you single gals out there, this guy is one hell of a catch…
I am thrilled to have Nathan participate in my 2015 Virtual Q&A with Cheese Professionals!!!
Briefly tell me about yourself. How did you come to cheese? When did you realize you were a cheese geek?
“My first interaction with cheese dates back to the early 1980’s when I was a young boy growing up in rural Alabama. It was then that a family friend, Mrs. Turner, whom I called ‘Aunt NayNay’ would watch me after school. She ran a small, cinder block gas and grocery on the side of HWY 10. The building was rather unremarkable, but the wonderful treasures inside would always make my chubby cheeks squeeze into a wild grin! She had at the time a Hoop Cheese Cutter, which is a large contraption with a turning wheel, a handle and huge blade for slicing off exact measurements of Hoop Cheese. She would slice off a few chunks and set them on the radiator while I ran around behind the property with her hound dogs…exhausted and hungry I’d come in (with the dogs) and ask if she had any of that cheese heated up for me. And as always, she did. Plus a few slices of house cured salami or venison summer sausage. Those were fond memories for me…so much so, that years after the store closed, Aunt NayNay dug that old cheese slicer out of the attic and gave it to me last year….it’s a real treat to have the cheese cutter that sliced my first piece of cheese from a wheel. That experience may not have made me a cheese geek, but it did ignite the spark that currently fuels my cheese loving fire.”
Where do you work and what is your job title? Describe a “typical” work day.
“I work for Murray’s Cheese as their Director of National Retail Operations. A “typical” work day for me includes, traveling, training employees on cheese, training on customer service and planning the expansion of our Murray’s shops in Kroger grocery stores. Like me, my days are anything but typical!”
Do you have a favorite cheese or type? What would be your perfect pairing with this cheese?
“This is a tough one…a favorite…I guess it all depends on how my ‘typical day’ treats me. On a rough typical day I like to indulge in my favorite soft ripened Harbison from Jasper Hill Cellers. Most other days I tend to lean towards Upland’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve or Sharffre Maxx. I like to pair them all with salami and anything pickled! And I just wouldn’t be me without pairing everything possible with a pour of sweet, oaky bourbon.”
Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?
“Yes, it matters to a point. I find that RAW milk cheeses are generally more flavorful and can taste different from batch to batch. This satisfies my ‘cheese purest’ side, but there are plenty of pasteurized cheeses that rock my world. ”
Should the US create a system similar the European scheme of protecting, controlling and/or regulating specific cheeses?
“Yes, it is about time that we Americans take pride in our hand crafted products and take steps to ensure that we protect our precious, unprotected delicacies.”
Tell me about one of your “cheese journeys”. Was it traveling for pleasure or maybe “on the hunt” for an obscure cheese you just had to taste?
“I live and breathe cheese….the farms, the animals, the makers and the sellers are all involved in my typical day. So my journeys come to life in my explorations of the history of cheese in America. Besides tasting and discovering a new cheese, I like to find trinkets of how cheese was made, stored, cut and sold throughout time. I like the romantic side of dairy production that can only exist in cheese/dairy paraphernalia.
Please share with me one fun, non-cheesy fact about you.
“I have never been arrested on charges of ‘possession of cheese paraphernalia’!”
If you could do one thing, anything, all day long, what would it be?
“Help give people a reason to smile.”
Nathan has no Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest accounts; no blog; no website. He is on Facebook, occasionally… However, he regularly “Rolls Tide”… where as I “War Damn Eagles”… solely to annoy him…
You can check out his bio here.
My thanks to everyone participating in my 2015 Virtual Q&A with Cheese Professionals. I hope all of you, my loyal readers, are enjoying this as much as I am…
Interviews will continue throughout 2015… sometimes, they will be “stand-alone” and sometimes they will be presented as round-table discussions with several Cheese Professionals answering the same question. Those participating include Cheesemakers, ACS CCPs™, Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.
List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.
List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.
Please “Like” MarcellaTheCheesemonger Page on FaceBook.
Taking the 2015 Exam? Please see my page on Tips for Studying for the Exam.
** Obviously, none of my NY friends fall into this category…