Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Who doesn’t love cheese?
In the Twin Cities, one man’s love for cheese has turned into two shops.
“This is the most delicious cheese you’ve never tried before,” Benjamin Roberts said.
And Roberts knows more about cheese than most of us. He’s the cheesemonger-in-chief at France 44 Cheese Shop in Minneapolis.
“The number one difference with us and a grocery store is we’re cut to order,” Roberts said. “All of our cheese are in their natural format. They’re in their whole wheels.”
Those wheels can be huge, and a French Comte cheese is like a Swiss Gruyère.
Benjamin used to be an analyst for AIG in New York. He learned about cheese from an importer named Daphne Zepos.
“I ended up going on European trip with her to go visit some cheese makers with cheese-aging facilities,” Roberts said.
That delicious Comte comes from Essex Street, Daphne’s company, and so does the incredible two-year gouda.
“I never saw orange milk, so they do dye the milk orange with annatto seed,” Roberts said. “It’s a natural plant derivative, so it’s not like yellow dye No. 5.”
When Daphne died of cancer last year, her friends in the cheese world created a scholarship to help young would-be cheesemongers get an experience like Roberts did.
“We would be a fraction of the cheese shop if it weren’t for my relationship with her,” Roberts said.
And his cheese shop is amazing, interesting, and boasting delicious cheeses selected and sold with love.
“How many? At any moment we have between 80 and 100 cheeses.,” Roberts said. “We’d rather have less cheese than try to blow you away with 300 cheeses.”
But they will blow you away. Thanks to one man, and one mentor.
Roberts also runs the St. Paul Cheese Shop on Grand Avenue. Both shops will be donating a percentage of their sales to Daphne’s scholarship fund on April 26-27.