Meet the Cavemaster: Josh Windsor

Cavemaster Josh

January is Caves Month at Murray’s, and in order to understand our caves and the cheeses that come from them, you have to meet our Cavemasters! From daily cheese care (known as affinage), to coming up with new cheeses and much more, the Cavemasters are the reason Murray’s Caves are able to produce thousands of wheels of innovative, delicious cheeses each year.

A love of beer and a lifelong passion of cheese brought Josh into our Caves program from an 18 year career in building automation. After finishing the Murray’s Caves Internship Program (*Editor’s Note: This 12 week program has a launched many a Cavemaster, and we’re always look for interns, check out our Careers Page for more info) Josh stayed on and is now an integral part of the Caves team. We sat down with him to talk what inspired him to make the career switch, his favorite cave, and more.

Where are you originally from?

Cincinnati, OH

How did you first get into cheese?

I have loved cheese longer than I can remember. In my mid-20s I created a weekly routine called “Beer and Cheese Sundays” where I would buy a new-to-me beer and take it to my local cheesemonger to recommend pairings. I would then have an afternoon of trying amazing beers and cheeses. It was my version of high tea.

How did you start working in the Murray’s Caves? 

I spent about 18 years working in the building automation world, but had opportunity to switch careers a few years ago. Cheese was always a passion of mine, and I quickly found the intern program at Murray’s Caves. I jumped at the opportunity and was fortunate to be offered a job at the conclusion.

What’s your favorite thing about working in the caves at Murray’s?

Using the term “cavemaster” in casual conversation.

Josh (right) working in the Washed Rind Cave

What do you love about Murray’s in general?

I love the passion for cheese from everyone who works here. For someone who could have 90% of their conversations be about dairy, this is the place to be.

Which cave is your favorite? Why?

Really, favorites? I’m horrible at these questions. My answer will always change. I like the tranquility of Alpine, the steady rhythms of Bloomy, the quixotic nature of Washed, and the rinded beauty of Natural.  I couldn’t pick just one.

What is your favorite Cavemaster Cheese?

Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Project X

Depends on the day, or the hour, or the last one I just tried. My current obsession has been Project X. After the shelving renovations last summer, this cheese became very temperamental. It’s been a lot of work to get it back on track and the results have been fantastic. This is my go-to snacking cheese.

Josh is a huge part of our Caves Team, but he’s not just a one man show, meet the rest of the team:

Meet the Cavemaster: Krista Jacobsen

Cavemaster Krista

January is Caves Month at Murray’s, and in order to understand our caves and the cheeses that come from them, you have to meet our Cavemasters! From daily cheese care (known as affinage), to coming up with new cheeses and much more, the Cavemasters are the reason Murray’s Caves are able to produce thousands of wheels of innovative, delicious cheeses each year.

Krista Jacobsen is the resident doctor of our Caves team, with a background in animal and dairy science — in fact, she chose dairy goats for her doctoral research. This experience allows her to dig into the various microbes, treatments, and variations inherent in affinage (cheese care), with extra attention spent on milk quality and type. Krista proves that working in the Caves is just as much a science as it is an art. We sat down with her to talk how she went from studying animal science to washing cheeses, her favorite types of cheese, and more.

Where are you originally from?

Short Hills, New Jersey.

How did you first get into cheese?

I was an animal scientist for a long time, specifically focusing on ruminant nutrition and management. Having grown up in a very cheese-friendly home, I wanted to apply my dairy science background to specialty American cheese.

Cavemaster Krista during her doctoral research with one of her subjects

How did you start working in the Murray’s Caves? 

I started as a caves intern in April 2015 (*Editor’s Note, Murray’s has a Caves Internship Program open to any and all that apply, check out our careers page for more information). That July, at the conclusion of the internship, I was hired as Assistant Cavemaster.

What’s your favorite thing about working in the caves at Murray’s?

The caves team is very small, which enables flexible collaboration using our diverse skillsets.

What do you love about Murray’s in general?

The wide variety of cheese that we carry.

Which cave is your favorite? Why?

Probably the Washed Rind Cave. Affinage in this cave is the most varied in terms of potential treatments. Although the environment and microbes in the cave itself are critical towards young cheese maturation, the washes enable us to directly manipulate the conditions on the developing rinds.

The Caves team at work in the Washed Rind Cave

What is your favorite Cavemaster Cheese?

Can be one we’ve done in the past. Impossible to identify a single favorite, but I love the stinkies (aka washed rind cheeses), such as a perfectly ripened Greensward or Cornelia.

Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Greensward

Krista is a superstar, but she’s only one part of our Caves team, meet the rest of the team:

Meet the Cavemaster: Peter Jenkelunas

January is Caves Month at Murray’s, and in order to understand our caves and the cheeses that come from them, you have to meet our Cavemasters! From daily cheese care (known as affinage), to coming up with new cheeses and much more, the Cavemasters are the reason Murray’s Caves are able to produce thousands of wheels of innovative, delicious cheeses each year.

First up, meet our Head Cavemaster, Peter “PJ” Jenkelunas. After years of Cheesemaking in the Hudson Valley, PJ moved to NYC and joined the Murray’s team. Four years later, he is our Head Cavemaster, is responsible for every aspect of our Caves program. Read on to learn his favorite cheese, his favorite cave, and more!

Where are you originally from?

 Farmington, CT

How did you first get into cheese?

Like most people who pursue a career in cheese, I think it tastes pretty good.  In addition to the obvious, I’ve been really interested in fermented foods ever since I started studying food science back in college.  Harnessing the power of microbes to create unique flavors is inherently fascinating to me.  For these reasons, I decided to work as a cheesemaker in the Hudson Valley immediately after graduation.  I’ve been hooked ever since. 

How did you start working in the Murray’s Caves? 

I’ve known about Murray’s Cheese for quite some time.  I knew that Murray’s bought a ton of the cheese that I made up in the Hudson Valley, and I knew they had a great reputation for affinage.  When I moved down to NYC, I noticed that they had a job opening in their caves.  It seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about affinage.  It turned out that I was right, and I’m still learning more 4 years later. 

What’s your favorite thing about working in the caves at Murray’s?

Experimenting with new cheese treatments is a lot of fun.  We always have something new in the pipeline, and it’s exciting to see how our projects pan out.   

What do you love about Murray’s in general?

We have an awesome selection of cheeses.  It’s great to work for a company that puts such an emphasis on quality.

Which cave is your favorite? Why?

Our alpine cave is a very therapeutic place.  A few hours of methodically washing Annelies will put your mind at ease.

The Alpine Cave

What is your favorite Cavemaster Cheese? Can be one we’ve done in the past.                

I’ll go with Stockinghall.  We spent so much time developing this cheese, and I couldn’t be happier with the final result.

Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Stockinghall

PJ is our Head Cheesemonger, but he’s only one part of our Caves team, meet the rest of the team:

Meet the Monger Special Edition: Holiday Hero Francisco “Pako” Munoz

Francisco “Pako” Munoz

For a special edition of our Meet the Monger series, where we introduce you to some of the great cheese lovers across the Murray’s team, we wanted to highlight a monger that went above and beyond during the Holiday Season, the busiest part of our year! Our Holiday Hero this year is Francisco Munoz, who goes by “Pako” behind the counter at our Grand Central Location. Originally from Mexico, Pako has risen through the ranks at Murray’s to becoming a star monger, and if you’ve spent time getting cheese at Grand Central, especially during the Holidays, we’re sure you’ve had the pleasure of meeting him. We sat down to talk his favorite cheeses, craziest Murray’s Holiday story, and more!

Where are you originally from?

I’m from Veracruz, Mexico.

How did you get into cheese, and what brought you to Murray’s?

My ex-girlfriend worked in a cheese store and talked a lot about how fun it was and how much she enjoyed recommending new cheeses to customers.  I loved cheese and the idea of sharing that feeling with others, so Murray’s was the place for me.

What is your favorite cheese at the moment and why?

My favorite cheese, especially around the holidays and winter time, is 2 Year Comte. Because it’s aged an extra year than the standard Comte (a great cheese in its own right), it’s more rare and only comes around once a year. The wait is worth it!

2 Year Comte

What’s your favorite thing that your Murray’s sells?

My favorite that Murray’s sells is Leonora, it’s perfect to pair it with chocolates and sparkling wines, and an all around delicious cheese!

Mitica Leonora

What do you love about Murray’s?

The thing I love the most about Murray’s, and especially at the Murray’s shop in Grand Central, is that I can meet new people every day from around the world with different cultures, including my coworkers.

Got any wild Murray’s Holiday stories?

Well, during the holidays, everyone needs their cheese (*editors note: the last 8 weeks of the year are Murray’s busiest stretch of the year). A few years back, a costumer didn’t want to wait on the line with everyone else, and actually went behind the counter to grab a cheese! I told him he couldn’t go behind the counter, and he had a fit. Safe to say, that guy did not get his holiday cheese.

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

This may be predictable, but I want to sell a lot of cheese!