Rose Mary Schaefer takes cheese seriously. As the manager of Surdyk's Gourmet Cheese Shop for more than two years, she's traveled in Europe to eat and learn all she can about cheese. In her shop, there are about 350 different varieties of cheese.
Schaefer, who studied family and consumer sciences, combined her passion for cooking and food to become a cheese expert. She is responsible for buying all the products for the gourmet shop while managing her staff.
"I always strive to make us unique," Schaefer said.
How did you come know so much about cheese?
A lot of it was on-the-job learning. I worked with Dayton's for 24 years as a selling manager. I also worked at the Franklin Street Bakery [in South Minneapolis]. My interest in food and all this work experience helped me. I even went on a scholarship to a culinary school in Paris for a six-week short course.
What aspect of your job keeps things interesting for you?
I do a variety of things for my job. But overall, I enjoy working with the customer. I like working with the product, too. I love teaching our wine and cheese class that we have in the shop. It's a great way for me to combine a lot of interests.
How would you describe your customers' attitudes toward cheese?
Obviously, you have a wide range, but I find that a lot of people are intimidated by goat cheese. They're not eager to try them. Often, though, they're pleasantly surprised. I think they just don't have a lot of knowledge about it [goat cheese]. Once they taste it, then there's no longer any intimidation.
You deal with food all day long. Do you even use your kitchen at home?
All the time. There's always so much out there to try out. I like having small dinner parties for friends. I really get something out of hosting an event at home. It's just lot different at home. I can try things out that I'm interested in, like doing meals in the European fashion. I think my friends always like to come over.
Is there any cheese you wouldn't eat, or any unusual cheese?
I'm probably not going to leave Limburger cheese in my fridge. It's a pretty potent cheese. We have cheese that looks a bit like a teardrop. Then there's the classic blue log, which is a goat's milk cheese, that has blue mold on the outside. It's pretty unusual.