FOODIES WEST.COM         
  MONA GONZALES
 November 2015 Issue / Vol. 3, No. 21                                   MARKET BISTRO MANAGER, AJ'S FINE FOODS, Scottsdale, AZ













      
Bakery Manager
Colorado State University
Pastry Chef David Couch


      
Janos Wilder shares the story behind Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

      
5-Star/5-Diamond
Executive Sous Chef
Joshua Johnson

     
Michael Robb
Certified Sommelier

       
Spruce up your food.

     
Che-Ah-Chi 2015
Sedona, Arizona

       
 Certified Wine Educator
Gary Spadafore gives the Skivvy on Sparklers


       
East Side Sushi
Anthony Lucero gives the story behind his award-winning film.


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Mona Gonzales, Bistro Manager, The Fromagerie, AJ's Finer Foods, Scottsdale, AZ
When Mona Gonzales first started working for AJ’s Finer Foods 10 years ago, she said “cheese was just cheese.” The store in which she started didn’t have a fromagerie specialist, and she had to teach herself. “It was not much of a big thing then,” Gonzales said about cheese when she first started selling it. “Though I personally felt like it was.” The store happened to carry The Premier Cheese Book, which Gonzales called “the bible of cheeses.” She referred to the book often enough to learn the history and interesting features of the cheeses she sold. “Then we sampled out the cheeses,” Gonzales said, “so I got to taste the cheeses. That way I could tell customers what kind of flavor it had—nutty, salty, sweet.” Gonzales spent about a year learning the different cheeses before she felt comfortable as a cheesemonger. In the beginning, Brie and blue cheeses, she admitted, were a challenge. “I’m not a big-time Brie person,” Gonzales said, “and I had a lady come into the store one day and she wanted me to do her pairing with Bries and the blues. We have Champignon Blue Brie, which has blue cheese and Brie, together. It’s our number one Blue Brie. “So she wanted to know what it tasted like,” Gonzales continued, “because she had never had it. So I told her what the blues were, how they put the mold into the cheese. She kind of wanted me to taste it because she’d never had it before.” Blue cheese, Gonzales explained, is an acquired taste. She didn’t have it. “And I had to be very professional,” Gonzales said. “I had to sell it to her to where she thought, Wow, this is good stuff. I got her to taste it, and guess what? She bought the entire five-pound wheel.” Today, Gonzales said she eats those cheeses with no problem. At that time, she wouldn’t even touch blue cheese. “At all,” Gonzales made no exception. “And the Brie, I just thought it was too earthy. It was too much for me. I like it now. I didn’t before.” Gonzales figures people who don’t know cheese have the same preconceived notions about these cheeses that she once did. “People ask, How does cheese turn blue? “ Gonzales explained, “And we have to tell them, They age it until it grows mold. It’s a healthy mold. And then they let it age. The longer they age it, the better the mold is. Because you’re talking mold, they think it’s bad.”