Introducing Tripp: Cheesemonger, Teacher, Grillmaster and Domestic Cheese Buyer! - Formaggio Kitchen

Introducing Tripp: Cheesemonger, Teacher, Grillmaster and Domestic Cheese Buyer!


Many of you may know Tripp as the jolly presence behind our BBQ grill this past summer. Others may be familiar with his stellar work on the cheese counter and in developing our domestic cheese program.

Tripp grew up in apple country – namely, Harvard, MA. He crossed the country to attend the University of Montana and, returning to New England after college, Tripp’s passion for food (particularly cheese) and his curiosity to learn more about food production brought him to Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

In the five years he has worked at Formaggio Kitchen, Tripp has worn many hats – representing the store at a local farmers’ market in Cambridge and teaching classes, both in-house and at Boston University. When not at work, Tripp frequently spends his free time visiting domestic cheesemakers – sometimes helping to make a few wheels of cheese and always enjoying learning more about the extraordinary artisan cheeses being made in the United States today. On these farm visits (made about every three weeks), Tripp often picks up cheese for the shop – he tells us that this is one of his favorite things about working at Formaggio Kitchen – the relationship the store has with domestic producers.

In addition to his fondness for domestic cheese, Tripp enjoys cooking, eating and pickling things. Although loath to admit it, he is also an amazing athlete – from fishing for salmon and crab in Alaska, to breakneck skiing in Vermont whenever he can find the chance. He ran a total of six marathons this past year (four “practice” marathons and two official ones!) and he is entered in a 50-mile race for 2013. No surprise then that it’s hard to keep up with Tripp!

We sat down to chat with Tripp about his holiday food traditions and to pick his brain on the gift front. Here is what he had to say:

Tripp, any particular food traditions at the holidays?

I look forward to my dad’s cabbage salad. I never really cook on holidays which I am grateful for because it means I get to eat and drink more while remaining comfortable in my grey L.L. Bean sweat pants and sweat shirt. In my family, I am considered to be more of a prep cook.

Any special non-food traditions?

Christmas music is always blaring throughout the house. And, without fail, my sister makes everyone in the house watch the ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ while we are eating freshly popped popcorn. I am responsible for the corn and am always instructed to make three batches with just salt and pepper, maybe sneaking a bit of butter on my dad’s bowl. That said, if everyone has already had a few cocktails, a side of melted butter might be required for others too…

Rush Creek Reserve

Rush Creek Reserve

What cheese do you think you will take home for Christmas?

I will probably bring a Rush Creek Reserve home – it’s a cheese that is great for a family gathering. And, Twig Farm Goat Tomme is one cheese that I like to buy as a whole wheel. I have brought this in the past and it looks beautiful on a wooden cheese board. For my family, one wheel can usually last the whole day. Last but not least, I always bring a Camembert-style cheese for my sister and Stilton and some of Julie’s Chicken Liver Mousse for my dad.

Anything else that you will be taking home (food-wise) to your family this year?

Pâté Forestier, McClure’s spicy pickles and Pio Tosini prosciutto. My dad loves all three. Probably a few bottles of wine picked by Gemma and maybe a few chocolates.

Pio Tosini Prosciutto

Pio Tosini Prosciutto

If you could pick only one food item – not a cheese – as a gift for someone, what would it be?

I really like Fieschi’s mostardas – especially the Cremona, a spicy mixed fruit condiment. They are unique and have some good heat. I am under strict instruction to bring one of their mostardas to all holidays or family gatherings.

What are you planning to give this year?

Some nice Jean-Marie Cornille olive oil to my girlfriend and some Pio Tosini prosciutto to my sister’s in-laws. If you can keep those people happy, everyone is happy. Also, I tell customers all the time to buy Arraya jams with their cheese because I believe that they might be the best we have to offer. For a friend, I might buy some of our hot sauces. We have a pretty good collection going at the store.

This is the second blog post in a four-part series of profiles, featuring long-time Formaggio Kitchen staff members. For part one – an interview with Julia – click here. And, stay tuned for parts three and four!