By Lorrie Baumann
Cheese has always been a very convenient, very versatile food, but CHEVOO is upping the convenience factor with a product that offers both trendy flavors and enough versatility to make it an attractive option through the entire day.
CHEVOO is cubed fresh goat cheese marinated in an infused olive oil and packed in a 7.1-ounce glass jar. Service as a snack can be as easy as dipping into the jar and spearing out a cube of the cheese, but CHEVOO is also useful as a convenient ingredient to toss over a salad or into an omelet pan. “When I was importing and distributing artisan cheese in Australia, 50 percent of our customers were chefs. They’d buy a lot of different cheeses for their menus, but they would typically not use any one cheese on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Marinated cheeses, because they’re flavorful, crumble, spread and melt well, could be stirred through a dish or crumbled on top of a dish, so chefs were using them throughout the day on all three menus. Foodies saw that trend and followed suit,” said Gerard Tuck, who founded CHEVOO together with his wife Susan.
The Tucks were living in Australia, with Gerard working with an importer and distributor of artisan cheese, when they decided that they’d like to strike out for themselves in the United States. “We just decided to pack our bags and move to California and start the process of seeing whether it was something we could do,” Gerard said. “Having worked for the largest importer and distributor of artisan cheese in Australia, with marinated cheeses being our biggest category, it was a telling sign that this category had potential in the U.S.”
Gerard spent the first year in the U.S. attending Stanford’s graduate business school, living on campus with his wife and three children. “As an international person wanting to move to the U.S. and start a business, it’s a bit tricky to get a visa,” Gerard said. “Going to school was a shortcut to getting the visa; you get a 12-month honeymoon after graduating to get established.”
After 15 months developing the recipes for CHEVOO, which is now offered in three varieties: Aleppo-Urfa Chili & Lemon, California Dill Pollen & Garlic and Smoked Sea Salt & Rosemary, the product was launched onto grocery store shelves in September 2015.
CHEVOO is made from goat curd sourced from local goat dairies in northern California. Then, a flavoring is blended through the goat curd. Olive oil is infused with a botanical that’s crushed and steeped into the olive oil over four to eight weeks. “It’s a very slow and natural process to get the flavor into the olive oil,” Gerard said. “Our most popular blend has smoked sea salt and cracked pepper blended through the goat curd. We then pair that with a rosemary-infused olive oil. It works nicely in that you get one flavor that pops out from the goat curd and one that pops out from the oil.”
The product, selling for $9.99 for the 7.1-ounce jar, has been in stores up and down the West Coast for about 12 months now, and it’s been enough of a hit that the Tucks are moving their operation out of a shared space in southern Oregon and into a new facility in Healdsburg, California, that’s currently under construction. “We’re absolutely planning to stay in the U.S. We love it here. It has a mix of cultural elements that are very familiar to us, and some that are quite different, quite exciting,” Gerard said. “The depth to which the U.S. culture embraces entrepreneurship and innovation is unique and really attractive.”
For more information, visit www.chevoo.com.