Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/68592

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Page 157 of 207

BRAND SPOTLIGHT The Cowgirl Way The California cheese producer and retailer Cowgirl Creamery has survived banking upsets and bad timing by focusing on what's most important—supporting artisan producers and sustainable agriculture. BY DEBORAH MOSS Peggy Smith and Sue Conley F ifteen years ago Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, two Bay Area chefs, combined their culinary expertise and pas- sion for food to create a small batch of fresh cheeses that they sold at their specialty food store in Point Reyes Station, Calif. These two college friends from the Washington, D.C., area were inspired by European markets and, in that tradition, wanted to make their own cheeses from local ingre- dients. Those first fresh varieties helped launch a business that now includes three retail stores, two cheesemaking facilities and a line of Cowgirl Creamery cheeses that are sold to more than 500 local stores, farmers markets and restaurants and nationally through Whole Foods Markets, independent cheese shops and restaurants. Cowgirl Creamery also dis- tributes artisanal cheeses from more than 60 of America and Europe's most prized producers. Early Inspirations and Challenges In 1993, Conley left her job as chef and co-owner of Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley, Calif., and moved north to Point Reyes Station, where she came to know the family that owned Straus Family Creamery, a local dairy farm. Conley witnessed the Straus Family Creamery's transition to an entirely organic opera- tion. "Sue started working with Albert Straus to promote his milk," Point Reyes store JULY/AUGUST 2012 135 PHOTOS: COWGIRL CREAMERY

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