Anna Hennigh brought her lifetime love of cheese to the counter at Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco just nine months ago. We talked about all things cheese, including her signature holiday cheeseboard, that celebrates the diversity of cheese. To check out her holiday cheese board, click here. 

For more holiday recipe and pairings inspiration, thumb through our recipe collection here.

Name: Anna Hennigh

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Cheese shop: Cowgirl Creamery in the SF Ferry Building 

Cheeseboard: “Celebrating Diversity.”

How long have you been a cheese monger?

9 months

What brought you to the cheese counter?

My passion for cheese. I needed a career change and I have always loved cheese.

Let’s talk about cheese.

What’s the most common question you get asked behind the counter?

“What is a good cheese that will go with this baguette I got from Acme next door?”

What should a novice cheese buyer look for in a cheese? 

Curiosity and an open mind are perfect when looking for cheese. It’s really down to whatever looks good to you.

What do you say to a customer who declares that they, “Don’t like goat cheese,” or are put off by an appearance or aroma of a cheese? Keep an open mind. A lot of cheese smells stronger than it tastes. Constantly try new things out of your comfort zone. Tastes change frequently. I know in my twenties I hated wine but now I love it. Same with washed rind cheeses.

What advice do you have for novice cheese buyers who are building their first cheeseboard? Are there rules?

No rules! Make a board that you would eat. Put one wildcard cheese on there. Learn about it and talk about it. Nothing is better than a diverse cheeseboard.

What's one thing about cheese, cheesemaking or the cheese world that would surprise or excite an average cheese buyer?

Don't be afraid of raw milk cheese! A lot of the classic cheeses out in the world are raw so don’t be afraid of them.

Describe your board and the inspiration behind it. Explain why your particular pairings work well.

We built our board around a sense of diversity. The cheeses feature all milk types and the pairings give you a diverse range of different textures and flavors – lots of things to try with the cheeses. Ultimately, it’s about having fun and trying new things and being adventurous.