Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Q&A: The Cheese Boards of Lilith Spencer (via CheeseNotes.com)

Feast your eyes on these artistic, creative cheese boards.  Lilith Spencer, monger at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe sat down with the folks at CheeseNotes.com to chat about her intricate displays.  Read on to learn about negative and positive space, the cheese scene in the Southwest, and the best food pairings for your favorite cheeses.

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If you follow the cheese world on Instagram, you might have seen some of these striking cheese boards on feeds like That Cheese Plate or regrammed by yours truly at Cheese Notes. These beautiful edible constructions are the work of Lilith Spencer, currently cheesemonger atCheesemongers of Santa Fe in New Mexico (@cheesemonggrrl on Instagram).

Photo Credit: CheeseNotes.com

Before she headed West though, she was a monger in NYC, and could be found behind the counter at shops like Brooklyn Larder, working the Vulto Creamery stand at the farmer’s markets, or competing at the Cheesemonger Invitational. The mountain air of Santa Fe seems to have sparked a particular creative streak, however, for soon after she moved out there, photos of her cheese mandalas started popping up in her Instagram account. Recently I had a chance to catch up with her and ask her about the boards, the cheese scene in Santa Fe, Georgia O’Keefe’s influence on her plating, and more. (You can see the full photoset here)

  1. Where did you start with these kinds of more complex cheese boards, were you doing similar boards in your Brooklyn days?

My current style of cheese plating really took off here in Santa Fe. The platters at BKLYN Larder were very simple, focusing largely on the cheese & usually plating charcuterie or accompaniments separately, partially for efficiency (the volume is much higher at a store that has been around longer; a larger percentage of employees are tasked with creating cheese plates, so they have to be fairly streamlined) & partially, I suspect, to accommodate different diets & allergies without having to customize to the Nth degree during exceedingly busy times of year.

This isn’t to say that we aren’t busy here at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe (we certainly are!), it’s just that here in the Land of Enchantment, people are perhaps a little more laid back than in fast-paced, on-trend, diet-abiding Brooklyn (example: “the vegetarians can just not eat the meat, separate it with a line of olives or something,” or: “no one’s told me they have any allergies, I’m sure it will be fine.”). I remember having the opportunity to help out with a Brooklyn wedding or two, where the boards were a little larger & more aesthetically complex; I made a cheese platter more along the lines of what I’m doing today for my friend’s NYE party once–but I suppose it never occurred to me that a regular, any-day-of-the-week catering platter could take on a funkier, more jubilant kind of flair.

Read more here.

About 

Scott is the GM of Jerry's Kitchen. He blogs about food, eating, restaurants, and catering. Philadelphia, PA - Atlanta, GA - Charlotte, NC - Miami, FL - Washington D.C.

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