Photographs by Regan Baroni
Interview by Ann Flood
David Rogers and his team at Standard Market have something big on their hands. Wheels and wheels of cheese, some stacked on cedar planks, aging quietly in the store’s cheese caves. Custom, fromager finished in the store’s cheese caves in the Chicago suburbs made headlines late last year. Standard Market’s Chandoka, an in-house-aged variety, took runner-up in the Best in Show category at the American Cheese Society 2015 competition.
Standard Market buys young cheese from creameries and then ages it, often using different ingredients and processes than the makers would. “We’re buying the cheese ahead of time and we’re taking the risk on the aging and doing all the work and then doing the marketing and sales as well,” says Rogers.
Edible Chicago caught up with the Maitre Fromager Affineur as he and his crew prepared to open their latest cheese cave at Standard Market's Countryside, IL, warehouse.
EC: Your title sounds important—tell our readers what it means exactly.
DR: It’s just very fancy French that means “guy who runs cheese program and ages cheese.”
EC: About how many creameries do you work with currently, or plan to work with, in particular in the Midwest?
DR: All the creameries we work with right now are in the Midwest; the farthest one away is Kenny’s in Kentucky. Right now in the rims we’ve got four, we have worked with an additional five creameries so, like, a total of nine. We don’t work with them all, all the time; the only ones we have kind of an ongoing regular sales relationship with are Kenny’s Farmhouse in Kentucky and LaClare from Wisconsin.
EC: Will there an opportunity for a customer to taste and learn more about the cheeses?
DR: We’re going to be doing a batch of Manchester from Zingerman’s Creamery (Ann Arbor, MI) here shortly; we’re going to be doing that with a gin wash so that will be completely different from the Manchester that they age. Presuming that over the next couple months that we’re aging that cheese it turns out well and we don’t do something totally wrong, when we sell the features to it we’ll have a day in the stores where the customers can sit down get the taste and learn a little bit about the process of the cheese.
EC: The younger cheeses, like, for example the Zingerman’s, will be ready in two months. What about the ones that would take two years to age; what kinds of cheeses?
DR: We did Gouda from Frisian farms—that’s their sleek, which they call their extra aged Gouda. We did a Butterkase from Ludwig (Fithian, IL). We took that out, let that age. They tend to be firmer cheeses, they tend to be lower moisture and a little bit more stable in terms of their aging.
EC: Any personal favorites?
DR: Of what we age, obviously I think the Chandoka is probably my favorite, because it’s so good; I could eat a couple of pounds easily. And we’re really proud of the Pauline from Kenny’s Farmhouse; we’ve been working really hard to get that in a profile that we like. The batch that we’ve got in the cave right now is just stupefyingly good, it’s so delicious.
For more information: standardmarket.com
Regan Baroni is a photographer who specializes in "all things food." She brings a rustic and authentic style to her work that is capturing the attention of foodies and publications near and far.
Ann Flood is the editorial director of Edible Chicago and has a special affinity for cheese.
Interview and photos published exclusively in the Spring 2016 issue of Edible Chicago