“It still amazes me that a handful of ingredients are the foundation for thousands of different types of cheese. It’s a magical thing.”
Cheese Education Guild (currently completing Level 2) – Toronto
Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute, Basic Cuisine Certificate – Ottawa
Smart Serve certified
Business Marketing Diploma, Algonquin College – Ottawa
Q. What is your role as Savvy Company’s Cheese sommelier?
Vanessa Simmons: I complement the wine sommeliers. Just as every wine has a story, so does every cheese. I take great joy in sharing the stories behind the cheeses—where they come from, how they’re made and who made them. There’s a little bit of science and a lot of love that goes into artisan cheeses. Their makers are nurturing by nature: they create these delights for others to enjoy. It’s my job to help spread the enjoyment of wine and cheese.
Q. What inspired you to learn more about the world of cheese?
VS: I’ve worked as a chef and seen the joy food brings. During my time at one restaurant, I was really struck by people’s reactions to the artisan cheese plates. I could see the amazement in the guests’ eyes every time the flavour of a different cheese struck their palate. I saw how universally enjoyable it is and I just wanted to learn more about the world of cheese.
Q. What’s the question people often ask you about cheese?
VS: Can you eat the rind? And the answer to that question is yes—unless it’s red and made of wax! Like wine, there are some rules of thumb for choosing and serving cheese but the main thing I try to relay to people is that cheese needs to be treated with care. It’s alive and it needs to breathe. It is best to wrap cheese in proper cheese or parchment paper and store it in a Ziplock bag or plastic container. And most importantly, pick up a glass of wine and enjoy it with fantastic artisan cheese—I suggest Tomme de Gaston with a glass of off-dry Riesling.
Vanessa’s Cheese Tips
Yes, you can eat the rind! Cheese rind is meant to be enjoyed – unless it’s red and made of wax.
When it comes to cheese, don’t be shy – taste before you buy.
There’s a world of cheese beyond the grocery store – explore!
Store cheese cold but serve at room temperature.
Cheese and wine pair beautifully. Explore, experiment and find the right balance.
It still amazes me that a handful of ingredients are the foundation for thousands of different types of cheese. It’s a magical thing.