A Namas-Day In the Life

This week, we’re experiencing a Namas-day in the life of “The Cheese Impresario” Barrie Lynn.

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1. Name, occupation, company/organization you work for. 

I am Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario, a former advertising executive who changed her life to follow her passion for cheeses and all that rides down The Cheese Highway with them. I am now a nationally known cheese expert, cheese educator, cheese writer, cheese + beverage pairings expert and cheese entertainer.

2. What’s a typical day in your life like?

I have no typical day, that’s what’s been part of the joy of becoming The Cheese Impresario. I feel as if I am surfing reality. If something interesting comes into my mind or crosses my path…I follow it. My motto is “If it feels good do it. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.”

3. How did you become “The Cheese Impresario”?

I was interested in food from an early age as my Mother didn’t cook and I grew up on frozen TV dinners. I learned to cook and then, as an advertising executive, I entertained my clients and I learned about fine food, wine and spirits. Some years ago I took an advertising client to a fundraiser for Slow Food, it was an artisanal cheese tasting. I tasted one bite of a cheese that is the famed Pleasant Ridge Reserve. It’s a cow’s milk cheese then made by Mike Gingrich from Uplands Cheese Company in rural Wisconsin. The depth of flavors blew my mind and Cupid’s Arrow hit me and, at that moment, I fell in love with cheese and the cheesemakers who take such pride in what they produce.

I joined The American Cheese Society and went to their national conference. As a launch specialist in advertising I was trained to look for opportunities for what needs to be done that isn’t being done. I could envision these artisanal cheeses that were made by family cheesemakers someday being available in the supermarkets. I thought if these cheeses could reach a larger market, everybody would win.

I lived in Hollywood at the time and thought popular culture and celebrity was an unexplored opportunity that could help these cheesemakers grow. I started at the top and pitched the Oscars to be in their famous and what turned out to be their final Goodie Bag. My proposed gift was my Artisanal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventure right in the star’s own home. Lo and behold, I was actually chosen by the Academy Awards and the media went wild. The headlines read “The Cheesiest Gift in Hollywood History.” I figured, why not go for your passion and I stopped working in advertising. My family cried and my friends thought I’d lost my marbles.

My first Oscars Celebrity Artisanal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventure was with the Oscar-winning rap group Three 6 Mafia. They won the Academy Award that year for Best Song. I was kind of scared because I had never met a rapper before. They turned out to be loving and also food lovers. We had a blast while I taught them about how to enjoy artisan cheeses paired with wine. We are still great friends.

I’m sure glad I decided to follow my passion. I continue to have amazing adventures as I travel along The Cheese Highway!

4. First flavor of Om Cocktails that you tried:

I actually tried all three flavors on the same evening as I was working on an artisanal cheese pairing for Natalie Bovis, The Liquid Muse. I found a delicious pairing with OM’s Meyer Lemon/Ginger Cocktail. The cheese is Salemville Amish Blue, a cow’s milk blue veined cheese that’s made by an Amish community in Cambria, Wisconsin. I actually visited this creamery and learned this cheese is sustainably produced and the cows are hand-milked without the use of machines or electricity. The OM Meyer Lemon/Ginger Cocktail and the Salemville Amish Blue Cheese is a fabulous sweet/savory pairing.

5. Favorite song for a dinner party: 

Right now I’m listening to John Cragie’s music. My friends are loving his work and he is coming to St. Louis soon so I’ll have a chance to meet him and see him in person.

6. Can you share a cheese—cocktail pairing tip?

Yes, experiment, experiment and experiment! It’s such fun to gather a group of family and friends around to enjoy artisanal cheeses with a variety of libations and see what people delight in. The cocktail scene is very robust right now so you can serve up several flavor profiles and purchase five different cheeses and go for it. It’s really a blast to talk about what deliciousnesses emerge as you are tasting, sipping and laughing.

7. Every cheese plate should include __________, ___________ and_____________:

I usually serve three to five different cheeses because to me, your palate gets confused after five different flavors. I serve one ounce per cheese per person and include a variety of unsalted nuts and fruit on my cheese board. I love dried fruit like figs and dried apricots, it’s easy to take these out of your cupboard and make designs on your cheese plate. When I’m creating a cheese presentation I love to decide on a concept. Concepts like an All- American Artisanal Cheese Plate and an all Artisanal Cheddar Cheese Plate with different ages of Cheddar from 2-years to 10-years old. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

To learn more about Barrie Lynn, visit www.thecheeseimpresario.com

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