This post is part of our Labor of Love series, featuring Creamery employees and friends. Click here to read other profiles like this.
The relationship between artisan food producers and specialty retailers is a cornerstone of the farm to table movement, just ask New York’s own Murray’s Cheese. Murray’s is on the front lines helping deliver our delicious cheeses to Americans both in-store and online. We spoke with Steve Millard, the man behind the merchandise, about his labor of love.
Name: Steve Millard
Also known as: Vice President of Merchandising, Murray’s Cheese
Daily grind includes: I oversee all selections in our 300 stores in Kroger and in NYC, while also managing our cave operations, food safety and food service operations.
What’s happening at Murray’s? We are currently in development of numerous collaborations with our favorite producers, working with cheesemakers and with our Cavemaster PJ on creating and refining our Cavemaster Reserve cheeses. We’re also growing our stores within Kroger and will open close to 100 specialty cheese shops this year.
First foray into specialty food: I started at Whole Foods Market in 1997, well before it was a household name. After a quick stint at 34 Degrees and time at Dean & DeLuca, Murray’s owner Rob Kaufelt came calling and I joined the team at Murray’s Cheese.
Tell us about St. Marks.
In January of 2015, we were faced with the lack of availability of classic St. Marcellin cheese from France. Rather than sulk about yet one more French cheese not being available on our counters, I decided to approach Allison and Adeline at Vermont Creamery with a challenge; could they develop a cheese that was better than the French version? Thankfully they responded with an emphatic yes. After several test batches, discussions back and forth on flavor profiles and a search for the perfect ceramic crock, we launched St. Mark’s, the newest cheese in our assortment and one that’s exclusive to Murray’s Cheese.
What’s in a name?
As a New York City original, we like to name our cheeses to reflect our heritage, so St. Marks was an easy choice, being the name of an iconic street across town from our flagship Bleecker Street store. St. Marks Place has a long and varied history from colonial tobacco farming to bohemian 1970’s to being the home of Cooper Union. Patty Smith even launched her musical career at the St. Mark’s Church in November 1971 during a Poetry Project reading. As a company that’s been around since 1940, we cherish New York history and are pleased to celebrate it in each delicious bite of our exclusive cheeses.
Why do you #cheesebutterlove Vermont Creamery?
Allison and Bob have created a wonderfully inspiring, sustainable company in Vermont Creamery. Getting to work with them on a project like St. Mark’s is a testament to their willingness to continue to push boundaries and improve the quality of American cheeses, even after 30 years of building one of the most successful creameries in America!
Check out all our cheese butter love here!