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Meet the Cheesemonger: Katrina De Hoyos of Uncultured Chz

Meet the Cheesemonger: Katrina De Hoyos of Uncultured Chz

Katrina De Hoyos photo credit Uncultured Chz

Like many cheesemongers before her, Katrina De Hoyos fell into cheese at Whole Foods. This experience became the stepping stone for her to discover small producers, farmstead selections and ultimately led her back home to oversee the cheese program at Tasting House in Los Gatos, California. When the concept at Tasting House changed, she struck out on her own with Uncultured Chz, a Bay Area cheese and charcuterie catering business, where she creates cheese boards and grazing tables of various sizes as well as cheese cups and cheese cones that are popular as party favors. 



How did you start working in cheese?

It was honestly just an accident. I was working at Whole Foods. I decided to move out of California to New York, looking for jobs out there and wanted to either work in the produce department or the cheese department, and I just got lucky and landed in cheese and stuck with it.

Tell us about some of your favorite cheeses and makers at the moment

My favorites are usually always American. I think American cheese has been in a renaissance for a while but hasn’t caught up quite yet.

I feel that as a cheesemonger in America I should be promoting American cheese as much as I can.

I really like Bamboozle, a beer washed-rind cheese made by Goat Rodeo, a 130-acre family-owned farm near Pittsburgh.

Chällerhocker from Switzerland was my gateway cheese, and still one of my favorites.


Which cheeses do you feel are underappreciated, and why?

Goat Rodeo Bamboozle courtesy of Third Wheel Cheese Company

As silly as it is to say, washed rind cheeses are underappreciated in my mind. I think that it can a big range, that people end up liking when they try them. They get a bad rap for what they are, as “stinky cheese”.

Other underappreciated cheeses are the ones with small namesakes that are being sold at local farmers markets. These are makers that might not have broken into your local grocery store but they are just as amazing and taken care of more than you realize.


Which wedge is always in your fridge?

Grana Padano photo credit Consorzio Tutela Grana Padano

Parmesan. Or Grana Padano. Read more about Grana Padano. Something we always have to chop off or throw into a salad or put into a quick pasta. It’s a handy cheese to throw into a meal.


What’s the pairing you just can’t get enough of right now?

Uncultured Chz board photo credit Uncultured Chz

That’s a hard question! We are at the beginning of BBQing season, my brother and my dad are always bbq-ing so halloumi cheese is our go to. We like to make a halloumi pesto tomato salad, it’s like a caprese, but instead of mozzarella we’ve been using halloumi.

What’s your favorite thing about working in cheese?

There’s a lot of perks to it. And while you are learning about the history and what you’re selling, you’re also supporting those smaller makers and farmers. Being able to showcase what American cheese is and smaller producers in Europe has been super fun for this demographic, and to tell the stories about these makers that we are working with to the people who are interested.

What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned over your cheese career?

I have learned a lot. One of the biggest lessons is to respect cheese. How to store it, how to serve it, how it should be taken care of. When I was first learning I just put the cheese in a plastic bag in the fridge. Now I know that you should never serve cold cheese. You grow up with this mindset that food shouldn’t be sitting out. I think cheese etiquecy has been my biggest learning curve.


What’s your cheese industry dream job?

Uncultured Chz grazing table photo credit Uncultured Chz

I feel like I’m currently living it. Starting my own business has not been easy and there’s things I never saw coming. But I also feel well prepared with the experience I have taken on in my previous jobs that are helping me push through and break a new barrier. The only other dream aspects I could see myself adding would be helping console people or companies wanting to up their cheese game. And/or having a storefront one day.


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