The 2024 Hot List: Kimi Ceridon | culture: the word on cheese
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The 2024 Hot List: Kimi Ceridon

This story is part of culture’s 2024 Hot List. Click here to learn more about the selection process and to see the entire list of recipients.

Photo courtesy Kimi Ceridon

Kimi Ceridon

Owner and Head Cheese, Life Love Cheese
Instructor of Artisan Cheese Program at Boston University
Medford, Massachusetts

After more than a decade working as a mechanical engineer, Kimi Ceridon left her cubicle to enroll in the gastronomy program at Boston University (BU). There, she earned a master’s degree in gastronomy, as well as culinary and artisan cheese certificates. She later completed Sterling College’s Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese Program with Ivan Larcher and Mateo Kehler and, in 2021, launched Life Love Cheese with a goal of turning the business into a brick-and-mortar cheese shop focused on American artisan cheese. Ceridon is now the primary instructor of the Artisan Cheese Program at BU, and has expanded it to a semester-long course that includes cheese tastings, cheesemaker field trips, and cheese industry guest lectures.

What’s your number one goal for your career in the cheese industry?

I am really excited about expanding the Artisan Cheese Program and Certificate at Boston University. When Ihsan Gurdal of Formaggio Kitchen retired last year, I became the instructor of the program. It’s been expanded from six weeks to a full semester. I wanted to crack the program open and collaborate with the broader cheese community in a big way. I am proud of the work I did this spring. We’ve had guest speakers, including a panel with Kyra James, Agela Abdullah, and Emi Lee on diversity and inclusion in the cheese industry; Heather Paxson from MIT spoke about her research with artisanal cheesemakers, Liz Thorpe, Emilia D’Albero, and Ryan Randell hosted a panel on the role of cheesemonger, and we visited 4 Vermont cheesemakers during a two day field trip. And, of course, there are the tastings. We had 10 in total! I hope to do more collaborations next year.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve experienced or overcome in the industry?

Working in the food industry is HARD. It is very physical and a far cry from my days at a desk. I work way harder for less pay than I did in tech. To be honest though, I’ve been super lucky in my cheese career. My tech career afforded me the opportunity to start Life Love Cheese with little personal risk. Getting invited to teach the Artisan Cheese Program at Boston University was a lucky break. Seriously, I was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of that offer, and that work has opened many opportunities for me in the industry. So yeah, it’s hard making this career change, but I’m also grateful that some opportunities just presented themselves.

Pair a celebrity with a cheese.

Oh, I’m bad at celebrity stuff, but as an Asian American, I am inspired by Michelle Yeoh these days. She’s smoldering hot, does complex, layered characters, and always makes people say, “Wow, that was good.” To me, that’s Smokey Blue from Rogue Creamery in Oregon.

You’re on a desert island and can only eat one cheese for the rest of your life. What is it?

Hands down, Lake’s Edge from Blue Ledge Farm. I can eat a wedge of that every day forever.

What is an underrated cheese that everyone should know about?

Firefly Farm Merry Goat Round Spruce Reserve is amazing. It has everything I love about a bloomy goat’s milk cheese, but with a layer of complexity from the spruce. It also gets creamy quickly, so that spruce wrap helps keep it together.

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