The Journey Begins

Posted on December 9, 2008

Well, not really. The journey started a while back. “The Journey Started A While Back” sounds less interesting, though.

I have been working on getting my artisan cheese business (AlemarCheese Company) off the ground for the past six months. This blog will hopefully chronicle the project from infancy to international acclaim, or at least to the point where I’m making a living and enjoying the work.

I hope to post often, and rather than attempt to catch you up chronologically, I’ll fill in bits and pieces as we proceed. Since this is the maiden voyage, I will start with the basics.

My name is Keith. I live in Mankato, Minnesota. I have two daughters, Alexandra, 14, and Mariel, 12, from a previous marriage. If you have already solved the enigma from whence the name “Alemar” derives, you are quite savvy. At the risk of sounding like a sap, Alex and Mari are the best thing that ever happened to me, so the name feels very natural and right to me.

I grew up in Northern California, moving to Minnesota in 1991 to be with my future ex-wife. For most of my time here, I was the owner/operator of a small family of bagel and artisan bread shops. My former brother-in-law, Tony, and I started with one store and grew to five. From the outset, I loved the business. Making something tangible yet temporary held strong appeal, and I thrived on customer and co-worker contact. When things were good, and they were for a long time, there was some sort of electricity that ran through the business. Like many things in life, an unannounced day arrived when the lifeblood of the company crested and we began a slow march toward extinction. I’ll spare you the ugly details, but know that I struggled and fought the entire way down when more obvious and sensible alternatives beckoned.

For most of the past four years I’ve worked in sales for a local children’s book publisher. And, while the work was entirely honorable, I was never fulfilled, not even close, to the way I was doing my own thing. So, despite the potential of failure, I’m making another go of it. Masochistic? Perhaps, but I can’t shake the urge to follow this dream.

Which brings us to cheese. Why Cheese? Well, I love the stuff. I mean, even bad cheese is still pretty good. I’m talking about that nacho sauce abomination they slather over stale tortilla chips and Alex adores (she also loves the good stuff). I grimace handing the money over to the snack bar attendant, and walk a few feet in front of her on the way to our movie. Then the lights go down, and I’m reaching over to filch a few chips. I’m guilty of cheese snob hypocrisy…oh well, one more thing to rationalize before the day is done.

But, the great cheese, the type of cheese I aspire to make, that is something altogether different. It has the ability to transcend smell and taste and become something more. I could continue to gush, but let’s leave something in reserve for next time.

So, thanks for taking the time to visit, and I hope you’ll come back. All the best…

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