It’s About More than Cheese: A Conversation with Leading Women in Food 

Elizabeth Chubbuck, Murray’s Cheese CSO

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. 

Adeline Druart, Vermont Creamery President

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 Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Cheese Co-Owner, COO, and President of Sales

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. 

Murray’s Cave Aged Original Buttermilk Basque

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.  

Point Reyes Original Blue

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.  

Vermont Creamery Coupole

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

Makers We Love: von Trapp Farmstead 

Any family that’s three generations deep into dairy is one that we respect. Enter von Trapp Farmstead, a family-owned farmstead cheesemaker nestled in the rolling hills of Vermont. And their award-winning cheeses, each one a testament to the family craft, can now be found at Murray’s—pungent, puddingy Oma, buttery Mad River Blue, and toasty sweet Savage

The history behind von Trapp cheese is extensive. Owner Sebastian is carrying on the legacy of the von Trapp family, specifically his grandparents, Erika and Werner, who brought their knowledge of agriculture from Austria and established the family farm in Waitsfield in 1959. To modernize the family business, each generation has given it their own unique twist. While Sebastian’s parents gained organic certification for their milk, Sebastian was the one to incorporate cheesemaking, adding the on-site creamery in 2009. A mixture of Jersey, Normande, Montbéliarde, and Ayrshire cows roam the verdant farm, producing milk with the perfect ratio of fat to protein for cheesemaking. 

With a single bite, you can taste the care that the family pours into their cows and cheesemaking. Oma is steeped in family history, named for Sebastian’s grandmother Erika. Washed in brine, this cow’s milk cheese develops a pungency that balances with its innate sweetness—think browned butter and roasted nuts with cured bacon. The pudding-like consistency is soft and melts over the tongue, but it’s never runny, the roasty notes best with a Belgian-style dubbel ale

Oma

Mad River Blue, meanwhile, highlights the family’s deep roots in Vermont. Named for the Mad River valley where the von Trapp farm has stood for decades, this buttery and mild cow’s milk blue is made from the farm’s certified organic milk. Its natural rind encases a dense, fudgy paste streaked with moderate blue veining that lends a gentle bite. Flavor-wise it’s complex, with notes of anise and cocoa layered against a strong savory undertone. Delicious with dark chocolate and juicy berries for dessert. 

Mad River Blue

And last but not least—Savage. Don’t let the name fool you, as this cheese is fairly easygoing. A cave-aged Alpine beauty that bursts with toasty notes of caramelized onion and beef broth. Ideal for melting: incorporate into a quiche or frittata or a truly exceptional grilled cheese. You can tease out the subtle sweetness of the certified-organic milk by pairing Savage with savory treats like beef salami or french onion confit

Savage

Not only are their cheeses unique, but the von Trapp family is also committed to sustainable regenerative farming. So go ahead and take a bite of these carefully crafted cheeses that are fresh in at Murray’s. To learn more about von Trapp Farmstead—from their incredible products to their earth-friendly ethos—visit their website


Five Delicious Reasons to Take a Murray’s Virtual Cheese Class  

Calling anyone who’s hungry for cheese! But also anyone who’s hungry for cheese knowledge, cheese pairings, and a sense of connection with the cheese-loving community. Murray’s has launched another month of virtual classes and our virtual instructors can’t wait to see your virtual faces for some virtual cheese tasting. Let’s take a peek at why this at-home gourmet experience is one that’s truly unique. 

You get to take a curated journey through the world of cheese. 

From your kitchen table or your living room or even your bed, if you want. Each of our virtual classes has a well-chosen theme, whether it’s seasonal (think Cheddar Weather or Beer, Whiskey, and Cheese for St. Patrick’s Day) or evergreen (like Cheese 101). Whatever you choose, a diverse selection of cheeses is expertly curated, carefully wrapped, and sent directly to your door. All you need to do is plate your cheeses (using a Murray’s guide) and click the Zoom link, and you’ll be in the knowledgeable hands of a Murray’s instructor as you taste your way through the world of cheese, from bloomy to blue and everything in between. It’s an incomparable and easy opportunity to explore new cheeses and to discover why you like certain varieties (be sure to take notes so you’re prepared the next time you go to the cheese counter!). 

It’s not just the facts; it’s a full sensory experience. 

In an hour-long class, you’ll gain wheels of new cheese knowledge, all of which will come to life as you taste together with your classmates. In one recent wine and cheese pairing class, for example, John from Murray’s education team shared that sheep’s milk has twice the amount of fat of cow’s milk—as attendees soaked up this knowledge, they got to experience the extra creaminess that coats your palate with a spoonful of sheepy Brebirousse d’Argental. When John encouraged everyone to take a sip of prosecco after a ripe, gooey bite, it became clear how a sparkling wine can reset your taste buds. Every piece of information is rooted in the joy of experiencing new tastes. 

Your instructor will always remain accessible and interesting—never didactic. 

If you’re imagining this as a boring Zoom lecture, think again. You won’t find any monger-splaining here. Murray’s instructors aren’t just cheese experts—they’re genuinely excited to share the joy of cheese with the world. That enthusiasm is apparent even on the computer screen as they bring a sense of knowledge and passion to every cheese and pairing. They taste along with you and excitedly share their favorite anecdotes and facts, from exploring how the tongue processes flavor to explaining why American and English Cheddars taste different. And while they’ll guide you through general tasting and pairing principles, you’re always encouraged to discover what pops for your particular palate. 

It’s a fun way to find a community of fellow cheese lovers. 

While our classes are hosted in a webinar format, the chat is always open. That means you can ask your instructor all your burning questions about cheese making, cheese eating, cheese pairing… whatever’s on your mind. Plus, you can chat with your classmates, individuals from across the country who also wanted to spend their weekend eating cheese—we think you’ll have a lot in common. You can share what beverages you’re pairing or where you go for cheese board ideas with people who share your passion. 

You’ll impress your friends with a perfect cheese board made from leftovers. 

A few days in advance, you’ll receive a box with all the cheeses you’ll be tasting in class. And we send way more than a single bite! It’s enough for four people to take the class together at your home, making for a super delicious social gathering that’s full of conversation starters. But if you take the class alone or don’t make it through all the cheese within an hour, you can always craft an incredible cheese board in the days following your class. As you share in a cheese and wine tasting with friends, you’ll be the expert, sharing everything you learned as you spread, slice, and crumble your way thought a delicious evening. It’s a class that keeps on giving. 


As we reach the tail-end of winter, don’t get bored—get board. Explore all of our March virtual cheese classes here and choose the one that’s right for you. 

Meet Quin of Butter Be Ready

We recently partnered up with Instagram-influencer and self-taught chef, Quin of @ButterBeReady, to develop a meaty deep-dish pizza recipe, featured on Great Taste. (If you haven’t tried it yet , you must!) True to style, she created a picture-perfect pie that may taste even better than it looks. We sat down with Quin to find out more about her background and what inspires this black maker.

How long have you been creating dishes? What inspired you to start cooking?

I started my blog, Butter Be Ready, in 2016. I loved going to farmers markets and immersing myself into all of the food. I enjoyed the cooking process as a form of therapy and loved the various ways of bringing a dish to life. Back in college, I really wasn’t a good home cook. (I ate out more than I care to admit.) So, I wanted to learn better ways to make food at home. It wasn’t long before I created my own recipes (after testing and testing). Friends, co-workers, and family began asking me for the recipe. Butter Be Ready was a way to document and keep track of whatever I was making and to share it with folks.

What’s your favorite meal to make for a group of friends?

My favorite thing to put together is often an assortment of goods. With multiple people, I always find it important (and fun) to lay out all kinds of food for everyone to nosh on. I usually have a few appetizers like chicken wings, dips/spreads, and a cheese plate. If I had to make a meal, specifically, it would be some sort of pasta dish. My friends and I love pasta—anything creamy and extra saucy is my go-to meal.

Are there any chefs who have had an impact on you and your cooking?

Yes, absolutely! As a home cook with a black, Caribbean ethnicity and background, I’m deeply inspired by the works of my ancestors. Edna Lewis, Leah Chase, Carla Hall, and a few more had an impact on me and my cooking.

What’s your favorite thing about life as a content creator?

I’ve been a food entrepreneur for a little over 2 years now and it is wildly fulfilling. My favorite thing about creating recipes and other content is the level of freedom that I have built for myself. In addition to that, I enjoy having full creative control and autonomy of the work that I produce. Being able to develop recipes, share them with others, and then hear the feedback… that’s gold to me. I love the work that I do because food, photography, and creating art surrounding food is my passion. 

Do you have any pizza secrets you’re willing to share—how to get that perfect crust and your go-to cheeses?

For the perfect crust, I’d say get the oven up to the highest temperature that it can go-to. Don’t be afraid to oil your pan or skillet super well—this leads to a lovely crispy crust. My go-to cheese for pizza is definitely mozzarella! Pizza is nothing without the cheese pulls, and you’ll want lots of mozzarella for that melty goodness. Honorable secondary mentions include fontina and provolone.

Who would you invite to your ultimate pizza party?

Great question! I’d love to invite Oprah Winfrey, Ina Garten, Julia Turshen, and Michael Twitty. 🙂

Love what you see? Check out more of Quin’s recipes on her web site, Butter Be Ready.

You’ll find southern-inspired snacks, Caribbean-style meals, and more! And don’t forget to explore products from more black makers at Murray’s!

Valentine’s Day Wine & Cheese Pairings with Shanika Hillocks 

Shanika Hillocks. Photo by Nora Varcho

Cheese and wine go together like you and your valentine—with each bringing unique characteristics to create a shared experience that’s truly magical. For perfect Valentine’s Day wine and cheese pairings, we called on Shanika Hillocks, one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers. Here are Shanika’s picks for what to pour with some of our favorite cheeses to create a delicious date night. She also shares how she got into the industry, why red Gushers are a valid tasting note, and what she’d bring to a dinner party. Plus, more foolproof pairings from the Murray’s team! 

SHANIKA’S PAIRING PICKS 

Annelies and Sangiovese Red. Photo by Nora Varcho

Murray’s Cave-Aged Limited Annelies Reserve + Sangiovese Red Blend 

“A heavier red wine would have masked the taste of this cheese. Easy and enjoyable, this light-bodied red balanced out the light cocoa notes and sweet flavors of the Annelies.” 

Murray’s 18-Month Aged Comté + Champagne 

“Fruity with notes of brioche, this beverage held up well against the nutty notes of this cheese. Since both are from France, it made sense they’d go together brilliantly.” 

Colston Bassett Stilton + Dry Riesling 

“The Finger Lakes region produces some great rieslings. A drier one with a higher mineral content, with the addition of stone fruit, married well with the minerally tang of this buttery blue.” 


Q&A WITH SHANIKA 

Why did you choose these cheeses for these three wine categories?  

Comté. Photo by Nora Varcho

Pairing One – SH: The name on the packaging drew me in immediately: Annelies. After finding out that this was a tribute to the cheesemonger’s wife, I had to add it to this Valentine’s Day roster, because how romantic? I found this cheese a bit sweeter, with light cocoa notes that went well with dark chocolate. That said, I opted for a lighter-bodied, quaffable red wine and found that a sangiovese red blend from my favorite local wine shop was balanced enough to carry the cheese’s flavors without masking it as a heavier red wine would do.  

Pairing Two – SH: Champagne is my favorite sparkling variety. It’s the bottle of wine I always bring as a host gift or dinner party because it pairs well with everything from the start to the finish of a meal. Champagne can only be classified as such if it’s produced in the Champagne region of France. Comté is an AOC-protected cheese, also from France. There’s even a certification mark on its rind to showcase the authenticity. Standards aside, I chose this pairing because of the full-body mouthfeel experienced after the first bites. Notes of brioche from the wine hold up against the nutty-tasting notes of this beautiful cheese.   

Stilton and Marcona Almonds. Photo by Nora Varcho

Pairing Three – SH: Traditionally, I think blue cheese gets a bad rap. This Stilton Colston Basset changes that. During my first taste of this selection, the salt notes on the tip of the tongue lingered. To balance this out, I enjoyed the cheese on a cracker with a bit of quince paste. I could have gone either way on the wine—dry and minerally or something with higher residual sugar content. I opted for the former and paired it with one of my favorite white varietals: a Finger Lakes. The acidity of this wine and the presence of stone fruit marry well with the tang of this cheese.  

When did you get into the wine industry, and what drew you to it?   

SH: It has been eight years since I formally entered the wine industry in NYC, but I was a waitress in college and introduced to wine tastings during seasonal menu rollouts and training. For me, it was, and still is, about the ability to center on a moment through the senses. I’m most intrigued by the subjective experience of tasting wine through one’s contextual experience. I’ve never tasted a boysenberry, but I do know what the red Gusher tastes like, and that description is valid in the lexicon too.   

Are there any professionals in the industry who have had a big influence on you?  

Photo by Nora Varcho

SH: Andre Mack! He was one of the first wine professionals who welcomed my curiosity with open arms. I admire how he has moved and honored the multidimensional person he is—father, partner, businessman, producer, talent—not just a sommelier.   

What do you personally look for in a good wine?  

SH: If you can’t quite tell, I’m a foodie, so a food-friendly wine—something with light acidity that’s fruit-forward—is always top of mind. 

What is your go-to wine style to share with someone who is not necessarily a wine expert or enthusiast?   

SH: I love sharing a sparkling wine. Several varieties offer different flavor profiles and price points that make the category super approachable.   


MORE PAIRING PICKS FROM MURRAY’S 

Murray’s Burrata + Bubbly 

Burrata and Champagne are practically made for each other. A bite of burrata coats the mouth in creamy, sweet flavor, but once a sip of bubbly Champagne washes over your palate, you’ll be ready for the next bite. A very popular pairing! 

Murray’s Young Manchego + Spanish White 

Photo by Nora Varcho

A good policy to keep in mind when pairing is, “What grows together goes together.” Our Young Manchego from Spain has a milder, more buttery flavor than the more aged version. It’s a great pairing for a Spanish white wine like verdejo or albariño. 

Appenzeller Extra + Hearty Red 

The meaty, mushroomy flavors you experience in an Alpine like Appenzeller beg to be paired with a hearty red. Melt this cheese over roasted potatoes and your date night is complete! 

When you show up to your romantic dinner with a curated Valentine’s Day cheese board and some perfectly paired bottles of wine, your date is sure to swoon. All thanks to Shanika! For more of Shanika’s spot-on thoughts about wine, visit her website