Cheese People

Visit the Cheese People's website.


Company's Start

"I began slinging curds for longtime Chicago area cheese monger Omer Reese in 1995, selling at Chicagoland farmers markets the great local cheeses he had discovered and helped nurture. In 2002, he retired and my bride and I took over his 25-year old retail business that I had managed by then for several years.
Customers at the cheese stand

Locations & Supporters

Each year since, we’ve created new cheeses unique to us to bring to farmers markets. We’ve also continued to taste our “whey” back and forth through local cheese country in search of anything we think our customers should know about. In 2010, we established a second warehouse and retail shop (in downtown Beloit) out of which to run markets in the Rockford/Beloit area. My brother-in-law, Darren, and his wife, Judith, and their family live a few minutes from Beloit on the IL side and heft the wheels at those markets for us. Our family, friends, and friends of friends are our cheese mongers - many of them students, teachers, and/or artists that dig having a seasonal gig to come back to and one that allows them to nibble freely.

Cheese Processing

The cheeses we retail come to us at varying stages of development. Some fully formed and ready to sell. Others come young and we age them out to fully realize their potential. Still others are made for us to our spec by different cheese makers - we send them fresh herbs or various sauces that we make for them to use, and we then get the full wheels/blocks back and age them out. We also take cheeses from different producers to a small family-owned smokehouse near Rockford and there the cheeses are smoked to our spec with various woods we provide. Lastly, we experiment with layering different cheeses into each other and with layering/sprinkling different ingredients into/on top of the cheeses. All in all, we work with around a dozen Wisconsin cheese makers.

One of our cheese mongers (our dear friend Dan whom I have known since kindergarten) is currently apprenticing as a cheese maker up at UW Madison and we will be making several of our own cheeses starting this spring. We’ve got some exciting ideas to implement, so please look forward to more yummy things soon!

Cuts & Wheels

Our customers know that our table at the farmers markets is the only place to find many of these lovely logs and wheels, which we insist on cutting to order, as folks come up to get a sample and take home a hunk. We believe getting the actual cheeses in their full form in front of our customers is a big part of what farmers markets are about - education through the taste and touch of food in its purest form. Plus, it is always exciting to take a knife that looks more like a short sword and plunge it into, say, a 2-year old wheel of Silvan Blum’s Nut Sweet Swiss. The juice from the eyes of the wheels “weeps” out onto the cutting board and the little bits that crumble off are tasted by all present.

Personal History & Family

We moved our young family from Chicago down to Quincy in the spring of 2005. With the seasonal nature of our business, we get to have the best of the big city but then retreat to the quiet dream of small town life. I grew up in a small town in northeast Wisconsin and we’re glad to give Evalina (12), Sonia (10), Gabriella (7), Ezra (3) and Simeon (8 months) that sort of room to roam. It also turns out that my family traces some of its roots to this area - without knowing it at first, our kids have become friends with some of their third cousins! My wife’s family is from Lombard, IL and so with the summer season comes many visits to her folks.

Bringing our favorite cheeses to local farmers markets is our vocation. We’re blessed to be able to work with so many wonderful producers that have expanded our knowledge as to how beautiful milk can be when spoiled in a loving way."

Jon and Sarah Hanchett, for The Mice
February, 2014