If you've ever wandered into Star Provisions, you've likely met Tim Gaddis. Atlanta's resident cheese-man can, more oft than not, be found quietly flitting about his cheese room, helping customers make the best cheese decisions of their lives, and slicing the cheese to order. Ten years ago, this former police officer made the switch to dairy and he been loving every second of it. And now he's here to answer every cheese question we've ever had, and gently guide us toward our new favorite. (You're our new favorite, Tim. *aww!*)
WHERE DOES CHEESE COME FROM?
Farmers! Oh, you meant besides the farmers. Much like people, it's the culture that makes it. But even the finest of cheese-crafting starts with just a little milk (goat! cow! sheep!), a little rennet and a heaping helping of salt. It was this simplicity that mesmerized Tim while he was at the French Culinary Institute. "I mean, what other food can you find with hundreds…thousands of varieties, all made from only three ingredients?" he asked (rhetorically, of course).
WITH WHAT SHALL I PAIR IT?
Looking into the Refrigerator of Wonders that is Tim's cheese room is a bit…overwhelming at first. So, take a breath. First of all, there's no need for us to worry our pretty/handsome little heads over making decisions—that's Tim's department. And he, the cheese expert, thinks people can get overly concerned about picking the right cheese. Cheese, he reminds us, was originally invented so farmers could preserve milk. Yes, that crunchy aged gouda? It's practical, y'all. It's worth eating. But if you insist on getting all matchy-matchy with your cheeses, Tim can help you there, too. He successfully and deftly guided our uncertain tastebuds to a local, Many Fold Farm Brebis, a fresh and creamy sheep's milk concoction that we fell in love with almost immediately. "It's just cheese," he explained, "get the ones you like, eat 'em and enjoy 'em."
All of 'em? Roger that.
WHO AGES THE STUFF?
While Tim focuses mostly on procuring and then caring for the cheeses and keeping track of things like temperature, humidity and cleaning, he's not the cheese-ager. He's the cheesemonger, remember? And, as we were surprised to learn, often the farmers aren't aging the wheels and blocks either. Nope, as it turns out, there are dedicated "agers" who help take care of business, everyday, like the Cellars at Jasper Hill, for example. Expert agers hand-select the best cheeses from regional farmers, age them in controlled environments, and then sell them at their peak. Now let's bring Tim back in (hello, Tim!): He spends the first part of each week talking to farmers and agers alike to find the best of the best. Ah, the circle of cheese…wheel of life?
For Tim's latest antics, follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Otherwise, stop on by Star Provisions, where he'll be the one behind the counter in the cheese room.