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January 2016 Issue Volume 4 | No. 1                                                                  we can make a real cheese.




AAA 5-Diamond/NYT 3-Star
Executive Pastry Chef David Blom

Chef Devin Pinto

Jeff Barba: Why he converted an award-winning wine list to all South-American labels.

Adam Centamore
Wine & Cheese
Pairings That Sing

See how Chef Sheana Davis suggests using her Crème de Ricotta on our

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Mr. Espresso—Wood Roasted Since 1978

District American
 Kitchen  - 2016

Phoenix, Arizona

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Sheana Davis - Chef, Caterer, Cheesemaker, Culinary Educator, Sonoma, California
Chef first. Then caterer. The title of cheesemaker came later. “It was a merging of the two over time,” Davis said of her career as chef and caterer. It all started with her grandfather. He was a chef who used to cook at a restaurant in Sonoma. “I spent a lot of time with my granddad on weekends,” Davis said. “He just cooked a lot, so I learned a lot from him as a kid. I spent hours with him. To me, it was just so much fun. I still have an affiliation with chefs that are older men. I love their stories and I love their conversation. They’re not texting, they’re talking.” In high school, fate intervened. She enrolled in a cooking program where each student got a mentor. She got assigned to Ignazio Vella. Vella, now passed, owned Vella Cheese Company. His hand-made (always, never by machine) Dry Aged Jack won so many awards, he had to retire it from competitions. “So I had the luxury of meeting each week with Ig Vella and learning all about cheese and meeting cheese people,” Davis said. “I also learned about civic participation in the community. I attented city council meetings, supervisor meetings, congressmen meetings. To this day I still participate in them. City forums. I volunteer at congressional receptions. So I think it not only introduced me to cheese, but also to participate in my community.” And participate she did. As a business owner, almost from the very beginning of her culinary career. “I worked at a catering company,” Davis said of her first position, “and then I bought it, and then I sold it. Then I switched out a storefront to do catering and cheese education. I started marketing cheeses—Strauss Family Creamery, Cowgirl Creamery, Redwood Hill Farms, Belwether Farms. I’ve had a cheese shop several times over the last 20 years.” Over those years, she got to know the producers she bought cheese from. Then she started making her own cheese. “So I started to play around,” Davis recalled the process. “I went to New England Cheese Supply and followed her around, visiting cheesemakers and visiting with her. And that’s when I came home with cultures and started making my own crème fraische, my own frommage blanc and my own chevre, and then mixing them. And playing with them.” She did this in her little ol’ catering kitchen.