My Best Friend Had a Baby
And I’m in Love
I often dream about owning my own cheese shop. I’d stock only the best of what’s in season, each cheese lovingly cared for by myself, alongside a curated selection of accoutrements — all for the purpose of imbuing my community with cheese culture. Yet though I often dream about it, I never actually consider putting it all together. It seems so unfeasible for someone of my age.
But that didn’t stop Katie Potts, one of the dearest people to my heart and my true curd sister. Two months ago, Katie gave birth to a beautiful baby business in the heart of her hometown. She named it Petoskey Cheese.
Katie and I met a little over two years ago, as cheese mongers at Pastoral, a chain of cheese shops on Chicago’s north side. I immediately fell for her sense of humor, but tried to keep my distance; throughout my girlhood, I’d had numerous struggles with women named “Katie” and this one had the piercing eyes of a con artist. However, she quickly won me over with her authentic charm, contagious sense of humor, and generosity towards the ones she loves. Over the months, I became more and more infatuated with her. I’ve since felt blessed to have her as a friend, but now she’s also an inspiration to me.
I roadtripped to Petoskey with Danielle Fink, Katie’s former roommate and very close friend of both of us. We rolled out of Chicago bright and early on Saturday morning and arrived at Whistle Stop Grocery about an hour later; where my good friend/pastry goddess Kelsey Morgan hooked us up with a box full of her incredible baked goods.
That cheese danish haunts me to this day. I don’t know how this woman does it, but her pastries are perfect. Anyway, after a couple more hours of driving, a quick lunch of shakshuka in Grand Rapids, then a couple more hours up to the tip of the mitten, we finally pulled up in front of Petoskey Cheese.
I entered the shop as if it were a nursery holding my best friend’s first born. Her shop is breathtaking: copper tones on neutral greens, with patterns of Petoskey stones accenting the shelves. This little shop is stocked with all of Katie’s favorite things, only the best of each brand. For example, she only has one flavor of Ritter Sport, the one with the Knusperflakes (corn flakes), because it’s the best one.
Right away, Danielle and I suited up in quite possibly the cutest aprons any cheese monger has ever worn, and set to work. Danielle began her transformation of the back stock room, and I got behind the counter.
I was a little shaky at first. My cheese paper skills have suffered from years of only re-wrapping small, personal wedges, and my precision was off. I even sold a $32/lb camembert for, gulp, $22/lb. Sorry, Katie. Still, I know my cheeses well and I can still measure a quarter pound of almost anything.
After “work” we went out on the town: tacos from Happy’s Taco Shop and beers from Beards Brewery, showcasing the hipster foodie culture in which Katie has asserted herself. Then went home and made some bomb macaroni and cheese out of Prairie Breeze cheddar, Midnight Moon, and Taleggio . We smothered it in one of Kelsey’s biscuits – one for the books.
You should know I brought Katie a selfie stick. This figures prominently in our trip. On Sunday, we worked in the shop for an entire shift. Honestly, I felt right at home. It was so fitting to host cheese church in a real house of curd worship.
On Monday, the shop was closed so we roamed about Petoskey, shopping, eating, and visiting wineries. After a day of leisure, we went back to the shop to have our own little spree.
The town of Petoskey loves their little cheese shop, and their admiration for Katie is evident. Every where she goes, there’s a local waiting to excitedly fawn over her. I was already blessed to have Katie as a friend, but now I get to watch her develop into a savvy business woman. She inspires me to do my best and follow my heart, even when it seems impossible at first. We should all take a page from the book of Katie.
Can’t wait to support Petoskey Cheese at this year’s Cheesemonger Invitational in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!