2015 Big Cheese Superstars


ellen cavalli

Ellen Cavalli is the co-owner and sales and marketing director of Sonoma County’s Tilted Shed Ciderworks, a boutique cidery that she founded with her husband Scott Heath in 2011. Ellen is a self-proclaimed cider evangelist, dedicated to elevating national awareness of and appreciation for fine cider. Hailed as one of “4 Cider Makers to Watch” in 2013 by New York- based Serious Eats, Tilted Shed has been featured in dozens of publications, including the North Bay Bohemian, Press Democrat, San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Outside, NPR, and KQED. Ellen lives with her husband at their Sebastopol Old World cider apple farm, which they share with their son, puppy, sheep, and chickens.

normalized_sue_conley_cowgirl_creamery Sue Conley is the co-owner of Cowgirl Creamery.  Food and community have followed Sue Conley just about everywhere. She caught the restaurant bug early, watching her grandfather hold court at Sholl’s Colonial, the popular Washington DC cafeteria he managed throughout her childhood.  After her time at the University of Tennessee she moved to the San Francisco area in 1976.  11 years later she migrated out to Point Reyes Station where she started Cowgirl Creamery.
LD 2014

Lynne Devereux: Years of working in the artisan cheese industry have made Lynne one of the top specialists in California’s artisanal cheese community. Currently, she directs marketing and PR for two pioneering California cheese companies, Laura Chenel’s Chèvre and Marin French Cheese Company. She created and directed California’s Artisan Cheese Festival from 2007-2011.  Lynne was the founding president of the California Artisan Cheese Guild. She has taught consumer and professional classes in artisan cheese appreciation at CIA Greystone and at the San Francisco Cheese School, and develops wine and cheese pairing programs for wineries in California. As a U.S. national spokesperson for the California Milk Advisory Board from 2000-2006, she addressed professional organizations and appeared on TV and radio shows nationwide.

janet fletcher pic

Janet Fletcher writes Planet Cheese, a complimentary e-mail newsletter, and the “Cheese Focus” column for Specialty Food magazine. She is the author or co-author of more than two dozen books on food and beverage, including Cheese & Beer, Cheese & Wine, and The Cheese Course. Janet is the recipient of three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award for her journalism and is a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers. Her writing has appeared in numerous national magazines, including Culture, Saveur, Bon Appetit and Food & Wine. She lives in Napa Valley but teaches cheese-appreciation classes around the country. (www.janetfletcher.com)

amina harris

Amina Harris: Amina is the Director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, UC Davis. The Honey and Pollination Center showcases the importance of both honey and pollination to the wellbeing of consumers through education and research. In addition, Amina is the owner of Z Specialty Food, LLC with her husband and son. Moon Shine Trading Company, a division of Z Specialty, has been offering unique American varietal honeys for over thirty years winning national awards from the Specialty Food Association and the National Honey Board.  Amina served on the Board of Directors of the Specialty Food Association (then NASFT) for six years.


Louella Hill: AKA The San Francisco Milk Maid, Louella found her first inspiration years ago on a sheep farm in Italy.  She teaches both private and public cheese classes throughout the great San Francisco Bay area including The Cheese School of San Francisco, 18 Reasons, FarmCurious in Oakland, Relish Culinary Center and many more (www.sfmilkmaid.com)

Sacha Laurin Pic Sacha Laurin is the assistant cheesemaker for Winters Cheese and has an absolute passion for artisan cheesemaking after living and working closely with goat cheese artisans in the Brie area of France for 15 years. Native to Australia, Davis is now her home and she teaches artisan cheesemaking classes in the Sacramento area and studies the science of cheesemaking and affinage at every opportunity, from Cal Poly to the University of Vermont programs to UCDavis certificate courses to applying her experience and love for cheese in the daily work at the Winters cheese cave. Sacha loves to make, eat, breathe, teach and learn about all things cheese, and is passionate about increasing community and industry awareness and education, and helping support every aspect of the Californian artisan cheese community and industry.
soyoung Soyoung Scanlan: Soyoung is the soloist cheesemaker Andante Dairy, which was established in July of 1999. After studying life science and dairy science and working as a biochemist and a dairy scientist, Soyoung decided to become a cheese maker.She named her company Andante, which is the tempo mark for many songlike movements that indicates a moderate rate of speed of a strolling walk. This perfectly describes her longing for the slower speed of life and the proper speed of traditional cheese making.
Stephanie Skinner Stephanie Skinner: Co-owner and Publisher, Culture: The Word on Cheese. Stephanie’s experience in publishing spans several decades and ranges in scope from large-scale consumer publications to custom and niche publishing. She lives in Massachusetts where Culture is headquartered. When Stephanie’s not at the helm of Culture’s ship, she is harvesting heirloom potatoes at her farm in Berkshires.
Lassa Skinner Thalassa (Lassa) Skinner: Co-owner and Independent Sales Manager, Culture: The Word on Cheese. Lassa’s cheese passion and livelihood began in Boston then moved along with her to California’s Napa Valley, which has been her home for almost 15 years. Working hands-on with cheese, teaching classes to the cheese inquisitive and planning cheese-centric events around the globe continues to be her life focus.
normalized_peggy_smith_cowgirl Peggy Smith, Co-Owner of Cowgirl Creamery, knows her way around a kitchen. Born in Texas and raised in Northern Virginia, she started her culinary career serving hearty suppers to food and folk music lovers at Gallagher’s in Washington, DC.  Her move to San Francisco in 1976 coincided with the food revolution begun by Alice Waters.  Peggy worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley for 17 years before Sue Conley asked her to consider starting a cheese company in Point Reyes; she jumped at the chance.
Steph Soleil Stephanie Soleil is a French native who fell in love with making cheese only after she moved to California in 2001. After pulling her first quick Mozzarella curd, she was hooked with the process and results. The more she made cheese, the more she wanted to learn about it. Her hunger for cheese knowledge took her to several professional workshops and is well on her way to becoming a certified Artisan Cheesemaker from the College of Marin.

Since she’s been around a few cheese wheels, Stephanie is now spreading her cheesemaking knowledge around the Bay Area, teaching public, private and corporate hands-on cheesemaking workshops.

LWerlin Laura Werlin is positively passionate about cheese and has written six highly acclaimed books on the subject which include The New American Cheese, The All American Cheese and Wine Book, Great Grilled Cheese, Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials, Grilled Cheese, Please! and her newest, Mac & Cheese, Please! Her passion and expertise on these topics have landed her on The CBS Early Show, the Television Food Network, Martha Stewart Living Television, and numerous local television and radio segments from coast to coast.