Cheese Champ

© Ethan Hill

Kurt Beecher Dammeier comes from a long line of cheese lovers: His great-grandfather was a turophile so passionate he bought Stilton by the wheel. Dammeier has for some time sold Italian cheeses at Pasta & Co., his line of shops in Washington State. Now he's gone further; about two years ago he started producing and selling his own cheeses at Beecher's Handmade Cheese in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Starting up the enterprise wasn't easy. Dammeier scoured bankruptcy auctions for milk tanks and open vats, and dairy farms across the state for cows that were hormone-free (he now uses milk from 170 cattle, both Holsteins and Jerseys). Under head cheesemaker Brad Sinko, Beecher's now produces 13 cheeses, including the aged Flagship, a smooth, slightly nutty blend of cheddar and Gruyère cultures. The café at Beecher's serves five gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and a creamy macaroni and cheese with a chipotle bite (1600 Pike Pl., Seattle; 206-956-1964 or beecherscheese.com).

PUBLISHED August 2005

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