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Archive for the ‘Staff Profiles’ Category

Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal

Ihsan and Valerie own and run the Formaggio Kitchen family of stores. As is true of any folks passionate about their jobs, work intertwines throughout all aspects of their lives. Their travels – frequent and far-flung – are largely dictated by the food producers they want to meet or to revisit, by rumors of new and exciting foodstuffs and/or food conferences such as “Cheese,” the biennial Slow Food festival held in Bra, Italy. Their larder and wine cellar are stocked with favorite items they have imported or new items they are testing out. Even when on holiday, they are in direct communication with all three stores, coordinating deliveries from Europe and generally checking to make sure everything is on track. (more…)

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Tyler

Many of you may be familiar with Tyler as part of the two-man team behind our BBQ grill this past summer. Some of you may also know him as an instructor in our classroom where he teaches classes such as “Cheese 101″ or “Brave the Caves.” Not many though, will be familiar with his behind-the-scenes role as Cave Manager. On a weekly basis, Tyler maintains the cheeses in our caves – flipping them, rubbing them down to get rid of excess mold or cheese mites and patching cracks as needed (among many other tasks). This is no mean feat when you are handling 80-100lb. wheels of Comté, Gouda, Gruyère, cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano! (more…)

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Tripp

Many of you may know Tripp as the jolly presence behind our BBQ grill this past summer. Others may be familiar with his stellar work on the cheese counter and in developing our domestic cheese program.

Tripp grew up in apple country – namely, Harvard, MA. He crossed the country to attend the University of Montana and, returning to New England after college, Tripp’s passion for food (particularly cheese) and his curiosity to learn more about food production brought him to Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge. (more…)

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Julia

Julia is affectionately known in the shop as “Little Red” because of her lovely red hair. She has worked at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge for 5 years and wears many hats – from cheesemonger, to classroom instructor, to buyer of chocolate, jam, honey, spices and tea.

Julia’s interest in food began early, as a young girl growing up on a small farm in eastern Oregon. It was on the farm that she learned about food in its most basic forms – between picking blackberries and making jam with her mom and sister, fishing for trout in the backyard, caring for their 30 bantam hens, or tending her own small vegetable garden next to her mother’s much larger one. In the evenings, her parents would cook everything from braised elk, to grilled whole salmon, to freshly baked bread. (more…)

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Charcutière Julie Grinding Meat

Charcutière Julie

When I first signed on as the charcutière at Formaggio Kitchen, I was excited to work with meat. “What does the position entail?” I asked Ihsan, the shop’s owner. “You’ll be making sausages, curing meat, breaking down whole pigs and rabbits. Stuff like that,” he said. “And pâtés. Lots of pâtés.” That stopped me in my tracks. Sausages, great. Butchery, no problem. How hard can meat curing be? But pâtés? This was another story.

Pâté was mysterious, classic and tricky-sounding. I accepted the position with a bit of apprehension. Now, entering my third holiday season at the shop, pâtés have become one of the items I particularly look forward to making. And we make a lot of them! (more…)

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Our kitchen takes great pride in the quality of their ingredients. Whether it is grass-fed hanger steaks, locally-grown heirloom tomatoes for a late summer chilled soup or organic Baldo rice from Lombardy in a rich risotto, we strive to let the beauty of each ingredient shine through. This pride is especially evident in our housemade pâtés, rillettes, bacon, pancetta and other cured and prepared meats. Our charcutière, Julie starts with whole cuts of pork, chicken, duck and rabbit and transforms them into small works of art displayed in our meat case.

Formaggio Kitchen Housemade Charcuterie
Julie sources local, humanely-raised and in some cases, grass-fed meat for each of her creations. Pâtés are seasoned with a variety of ingredients including mushrooms, orange zest, pistachios, and golden raisins while cured meats such as bacon, guanciale and pancetta have simple herb and salt rubs that keep the meat’s flavor in the forefront. Julie also makes a variety of fresh sausages with ingredients that vary throughout the year. (more…)

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Formaggio Kitchen BBQDuring BBQ season here at the shop (March-October), when I work in the bakery on Saturdays, I get the benefit of Eric’s company for a brief while in the morning as he puts the finishing touches on his BBQ.  Saturdays find him baking off cornbread, roasting the chickens and finishing off ribs.  As I go through the process of making cinnamon bread, I observe the different stages he goes through – the testing of the golden cornbread studded with colorful peppers, the brushing of the chickens with his BBQ sauce and the final glazing of the ribs with that same sauce.

Formaggio Kitchen BBQ: the preparation

Formaggio Kitchen BBQ: the preparation

The half chickens begin their journey on Friday when they are split and marinated in a special rub.  On Saturday morning, Eric roasts them for about 45 minutes, bastes them in their own juice and, as he says, “gives them a sauce bath.”  Once they are out on the sidewalk, customers have the option of another “sauce bath” before their chicken goes on the grill for the grand finale.  As Eric points out, the basting process helps to crisp the skin while the layering of the BBQ sauce allows for a delicious development of flavor. (more…)

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