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Meet the Maker: Anne Saxelby

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Anne Saxelby is co-owner of Saxelby Cheesemongers, along with business partner Benoit Breal. Basically, Anne shepherds the cheese from farm to cheese lover, telling the stories that make each farm unique, and giving a sense of why each cheese tastes the way it does.

When did you start doing what you are doing?

I graduated from NYU with a degree in fine art. Like any kid with that degree, I went out and got a job. Though I knew nothing about cheese (other than the fact that I loved it) I spent a summer at Murray’s Cheese Shop in the Village and then went up to Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut in the fall to learn how to actually make cheese. That’s when it all kind of came together — I realized that the process of making cheese was just like making art, only the results were edible.

What was your motivation to start and how did you begin?

I always knew I wanted to have my own business, I just wasn’t sure what kind. Over the years my idea got honed down from having an art gallery/cheese and wine bar/diner-type of establishment to having a shop to having just a cheese shop. I figured that’s where my passion and expertise lay, so why dilute it?

What is the best part of what you do?

The people — the farmers, my coworkers, fellow cheeseheads, and customers. Cheese is one of those magical things that brings people together in really interesting ways.

The most miserable?

The administrative aspects — the insurance policies, choosing a credit card processor, the paperwork, and all the other things I never really realized a business owner had to do until I was one.

Who and what inspires what you do?

I am inspired by all of the farmers and cheesemakers who work their butts off every single day to take care of their animals and make delicious cheese, by companies like Neal’s Yard Dairy, Jasper Hill Farm, and Zingerman’s, and by everyone who is creating something of beauty.

Having a business is like …

Having a kid. You wonder if it’s doing okay, sometimes wake up in the middle of the night for it, feed it with your ideas and dreams, and wish that it accomplishes great things.

What is your long-term plan for Saxelby Cheesemongers?

I want to create a business that makes a difference and that supports the artisans who are making such amazing food (cheesy as that sounds). I would also love to have a stand-alone shop of our own in a few years.

If you were not doing this, what would you do?

I’d take up the accordion. But then I’d get hungry and wish I was back in cheese.

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