The stunning cover image and the cover story in this issue featuring Padma Lakshmi of Top Chef fame is a milestone for CHEESE CONNOISSEUR and for the evolution of specialty cheese in America. Why? Because specialty cheese is not just delicious… not just an important contributor to the sustenance of rural economies across the country… not just a vibrant new American industry… but specialty cheese is now, well, sexy.
There was a time when CHEESE CONNOISSEUR had trouble attracting female celebrities to our covers. Most preferred to be on fashion magazines. Oh, they might go for the naughty girl image on the cover of a cigar magazine or the upscale seductiveness of appearing on a wine magazine cover, but cheese? Was that the image they were going for? They were uncertain.
We have since been fortunate to have some beautiful and talented women grace our covers — powerful women such as Carla Hall and Alison Sweeney. But now that the world has seen Padma sensually devour a piece of delicious cheese, few will ever again seriously question that luscious cheeses are part of the kind of life they aspire to live.
There is a lot to that life, of course. Just as understanding great wines or craft beers takes study and knowledge, so too part of the sexiness of cheese is that one who really can explain cheese is one who has cared enough to gain expertise. A true connoisseur of cheese represents intelligence and commitment, a desire to understand and appreciate — a willingness to try new things. These are attractive traits in people; they make one beautiful — even if you do not look as beautiful as Padma.
There is a self-assurance that comes with this kind of knowledge and beauty, and that reflects in the way specialty cheese is used today. Just as Padma waxes poetic over a burger from Carl’s Jr. or In-N-Out burger, she also asked to feature some incredibly yummy grilled cheese sandwiches in the photo shoot. This is the kind of attitude that makes high-quality food, consumed in a laid-back, accessible, not pretentious or stuffy way, the hallmark of America’s resurgent food culture.
Great cheese, suitable to eat with beer or champagne, understanding where it all comes from and the way it is prepared, lends itself to being served with attention to beauty, as on the evocative plate and glassware Padma brought with her. It is all about the elevation of specialty cheese, creating the lifestyle we want to live and helping us become the people we want to be.