While we’d love to chat with our favorite cheesemakers any day of the week, International Women’s Day provided an incredible opportunity to talk with two of the most influential women in cheese. On Tuesday, March 8, Murray’s Cheese’s Elizabeth Chubbuck shared the virtual stage with Adeline Druart of Vermont Creamery and Lynn Giacomini Stray of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. on Instagram Live. As they talked and tasted their way through an engaging cheese-filled hour, viewers got an inside look at what it means to be a leading woman in the industry and how these women are working to influence the food world.
Kicking things off was Murray’s CSO Elizabeth Chubbuck, who leads the company’s strategic growth initiatives across a diverse ecosystem of businesses. She welcomed Lynn Giacomini Stray, who serves as co-owner, COO, and president of sales at Point Reyes Cheese, overseeing dairy operations, cheesemaking, marketing, and more; and Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery, an artisan cheesemaker who has scaled the New England business into a leading national goat cheese brand.
Lynn, Adeline, and Elizabeth each brought a cheese to share what their brands are all about—as they tasted through them, their excitement about their own and each other’s cheeses was palpable. Lynn shared Point Reyes Original Blue, a kitchen workhorse with a creamy texture. Bright milk flavors up front, with the classic blue cheese peppery pungency in the finish. They enjoyed the balance of the salty blue with the rich and coffee-tinged Zotter Chocolates Tiramisu Bar. Adeline’s pick was Vermont Creamery Coupole, a buttery goat’s milk cheese with a gorgeous wrinkled rind and texture like whipped cream cheese. Elizabeth rounded out the array with Murray’s Cave Aged Original Buttermilk Basque, a snackable sheep’s milk cheese with a springy, mouthwatering bite.
Between tastes, each participant talked openly about the impact they’re trying to make in the world of cheese and beyond. One topic that continued to come up was sustainability, a key issue for both businesses. Speaking in front of a brightly colored background of cows in a grassy pasture, Lynn highlighted that Point Reyes is a third-generation family business, which brings with it the important role of ensuring the land is viable for generations to come. She also discussed the farm’s methane digestor, which collects methane from wastewater and turns it into energy. Adeline explained that Vermont Creamery, a certified B Corporation, partners with existing infrastructure to stay sustainable. The creamery has also started sending its byproducts—whey and buttermilk—to a farm that turns it into natural gas.
Elizabeth also asked Lynn and Adeline about who has inspired them. “I don’t think there’s any other industry that is quite like the cheese industry as far as its support and collaboration,” Lynn shared. She specifically shouted out Cowgirl Creamery founders Peg Smith and Sue Connelly for helping to build a community of cheesemakers in Marin County, which has transformed into a thriving cheese epicenter. Adeline spoke about Allison Hooper, co-founder of Vermont Creamery, who supported her in her journey from intern to president. She also highlighted how the company has worked to support women in manufacturing, often a male-dominated industry. Vermont Creamery served as an advocate in the creation of a Vermont bill for universal childcare—a concrete way to support women and parents in the workplace.
And as for that elusive work-life balance that often plagues women in business? For Lynn, there’s no distinct separation between the two; she describes it all as part of her lifestyle. And for Adeline? “Work-life balance is overrated,” she said, explaining that attaining a perfect balance is impossible and everyone’s just doing their best. Elizabeth noted the concept of “work-life integration” and the importance of budgeting your own personal energy.
While each of these women has had their unique journey in the food world, they all share a vision and a passion for building businesses that support other women and the environment. “Cheese is really just the platform for us to do all these other great things,” Lynn explained, highlighting a concept that surfaced throughout the event. For more inspiring insights from Lynn, Adeline, and Elizabeth—on everything from gender parity to beverage pairings—and to shop from women-owned creameries, visit our website.