The 2024 Hot List: Pat Ford | culture: the word on cheese
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The 2024 Hot List: Pat Ford

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 Pat Ford

Pat Ford

Co-owner of Beehive Cheese Company
Uintah, Uta

Back in 2005, Pat Ford’s brother-in-law Tim Welsh approached him with a radical idea: swap out their corporate careers for a path in cheesemaking. Ford chuckled but was intrigued. They knew their artisan cheese had to be different than the competition, but with zero cheesemaking experience, the pair enrolled in a five-day cheesemaking course at Utah State University. As luck would have it, the university handed over a recipe they’d been perfecting for decades, and it would soon become Beehive’s flagship cheese: award-winning Promontory. Beehive Cheese, a certified B Corp named after the Beehive State, uses Promontory as the base for a variety of flavor-packed wheels such as oh-so-popular Barely Buzzed (hand-rubbed with espresso and lavender), Pour Me a Slice (made with Basil Hayden Bourbon), and Teahive (rubbed with Earl Grey), among others. Ford has been an active American Cheese Society member for fifteen years and played an important role in the creation of the Certified Cheese Professional Exam and certificate program.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the cheese world?

Jeff Jirik. I was fortunate to serve with him on the ACS Board, and a friendship was born. He is an amazing cheesemaker, farmer and just a great person.

What was your big “aha moment” when you entered this industry?

We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and this fortunate naivete led us to pioneer cheeses that most folks said couldn’t or shouldn’t be done.

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

Learn how to make great cheese and do what we say we are going to do. This simple philosophy has served us well.

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

When we first started creating rubbed-rind cheeses, which we made out of necessity due to the surrounding arid desert air, people were skeptical of flavored cheeses. We slowly won the mover and they are now accepted. In fact, it’s become a very popular category.

Pair a celebrity with a cheese.

An undisclosed astronaut wanted to take Barely Buzzed on the final space shuttle flight, but we couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t spread mold.

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

Cypress Grove Midnight Moon. I could eat that all day.

What is a pairing you’re ashamed to love?

Pecans dipped in Nutella and eaten with yogurt or ice cream.

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