Barrie Lynn is a nationally known cheese expert, cheese writer, cheese educator, cheese + beverage pairing expert and cheese entertainer. She travels the country for trade shows, conferences, private and corporate events and sales trainings. Barrie was even brought to Kraft to present her take on artisanal cheeses for their (300+) cheese team.
MO: Where does your love and passion and cheese come from?
Barrie: When I was an advertising executive, I was able to experience fine dining, wines and spirits when entertaining my clients. I enjoyed cheese but didn¹t know too much about it. I took a client to a fund-raiser for a food organization I belong to and it was a cheese tasting. I literally fell in love at first bite! Cupid’s Arrow struck me and the rest is history. The one cheese that rocked my world was Wisconsin’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve. This cow’s milk cheese was hand crafted by Mike Gingrich and made now by Andy Hatch. The depth of complexity of flavors helped me see what real artisanal cheese is all about. From that moment on I pursued my passion for cheeses and all that rides down The Cheese Highway with them.
MO: Can you talk about the journey from taking a passion and turning it into a thriving business?
Barrie: I’ve found I enjoy educating people while entertaining them so they have fun while learning. I developed an Internet series, CHEESE RULES with host Barrie Lynn The Cheese Impresario. These shows cover everything from To Rind or Not to Rind, How to Store Cheese. How to Pair Cheese with Dark Sipping Rum and Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and more.
Events are an important part of my business and I’ve created cheese events for the 15 top Hollywood executives where I paired artisanal cheese with rare port. One event was for a significant convention where I developed an Artisanal Cheese, Spirits & Cocktail Pairing Lounge for 1,500 guests. More intimate events for private clients and their businesses have also been successful. Repeat business is key and I¹ve been fortunate to work for some of the same clients since I launched The Cheese Impresario. For instance, I was chosen by MORE Magazine as one of the top ten women in the country to re-invent herself. I appeared in this last issue of MORE with a two-page profile. I also was chosen to be in MORE’s TV Special. One of my long time clients gave me her beautiful home for this television shoot. That’s the joy of repeat business. I never compromise quality and this is evident to my clients.
MO: Any tips for cheese and wine pairing?
Barrie: Yes, my new favorite pairing is with wine and the Sartori Family’s flavored BellaVitano cheeses. The Sartori family is in their fourth generation making amazing cheeses in the pristine territory of rural Wisconsin. I love their Espresso BellaVitano. It is a semi hard cow’s milk cheese that’s not a Parmesan and not a Cheddar. It is a true American original. This delicious cheese is then hand rubbed with ground espresso beans. I pair this cheese with a big flavored wine like Judd’s Hill Winery’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The richness of the cheese comes together with the fruit in the wine and the espresso from the cheese is magic with the rich tannins of this expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Theres an element of the joy of discovery when people learn about the diversity of artisanal cheeses and how to entertain with them. Cheese appreciation is much like music appreciation once you learn to listen so much more opens up. I can’t wait to turn you and your guests on to these taste sensations.
MO: What was it like pitching to The Oscars? Once you got selected can you talk about the process of providing the perfect items for the goodie bags?
Barrie: It was nerve-racking pitching the Oscars. A jury of 20+ Hollywood executives reviewed each submission for their famous Goodie Bag. Trips to Tahiti and the like. Low and behold, they chose my Oscars gift, my Artisanal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventure for the star and five of their friends right in their own home by me, Barrie Lynn The Cheese Impresario. This Oscars promotion turned out to be a Big Idea in launching The Cheese Impresario. I was suddenly being covered in the media as The Cheesiest Gift in Hollywood History! From this action, I decided to stop working in advertising and see what I could do following my passion for cheese.
MO: If you had to start from scratch is there anything that you’d do differently?
Barrie: This sounds trite. I’d have done this sooner.
MO: What¹s one marketing strategy that’s worked really well for you so far?
Barrie: First, the Oscars. Being included in their famous and what turned out to be final Goodie Bag was quite for The Cheese Impresario along with my cheese and wine partners. It was the perfect strategy and at the perfect time. Secondly, I have become a cheese columnist in several publications, The Beverly Hills Times and national fine beverage publication, MUTINEER Magazine. I love educating people on the magic of artisanal cheeses and the cheesemakers who take such pride in what they produce. These columns allow me to rev up my Pairing Laboratory to provide information to my readers so they can have more pleasure when entertaining their clients, their friends and their family. I also teach at food, wine, rum and beer festivals across the country. This allows me to expand my network of friends and clients and spread more knowledge and joy to those who attend my seminars.
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