The 2024 Hot List: Rachel Pineda | culture: the word on cheese
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The 2024 Hot List: Rachel Pineda

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 Rachel Pineda

Rachel Pineda

Co-owner and Cheesemonger, Otto’s Cheese Shop
New Braunfels, Texas

Rachel Pineda is a proud Texan, Texas State University Bobcat, and mom of two who co-owns Otto’s Cheese Shop with her husband, Bob. She’s been passionately serving cheese to New Braunfels residents since their shop opened in May 2021. Her and her husband’s latest adventure is taking them on a tour of Texas cheeses; they plan to write a book and film a documentary that highlights these cheeses and the makers behind them.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the cheese world?

My biggest inspiration is Liz Thorpe. She has had so much success in her career in the cheese industry, it made me more aware of the goals that I see possible for my career.

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

My big “aha moment” was when I came back from my first American Cheese Society Conference and noticed how much potential there was to highlight Texas cheese. I came back home with a vision and goal to shine a spotlight on Texas cheese and its makers.

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

Opening the doors to our shop and taking that dive into the world of cheese was a huge challenge. We have always eaten cheese and known quite a bit about it, but opening a business and learning a new skill at the same time was difficult. It was a whole new world! I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I didn’t like the feeling of fumbling through those first few months. Now, I look forward to resolving the challenges that come our way, and making our shop an amazing place!

Pair a celebrity with a cheese:

I would pair Christoph Waltz with a hard aged Gouda such as OG Kristal. Serious and well-aged, but good looking and a little sweet.

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

Asking a person who loves cheese to only pick one is extremely hard! But the cheese that I would eat for the rest of my life would be Los Cameros Mixed Milk Cheese. It’s great and I fall in love with it every time I eat it.

What is a pairing you’re ashamed to love?

String cheese and red grapes. I have two young kids, so it’s an easy staple in my house and it makes me feel like a kid again.

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