The 2024 Hot List: Cutting the Curd Podcast | culture: the word on cheese
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The 2024 Hot List: Cutting the Curd Podcast

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.

Cara Warren, ACS CCP, ASC CCSE

Senior Sales Account Manager, Isigny Sainte-Mère
Brookyln, New York

Jessica Kesselman, ACS CCP

Sales Director, Full Shelf Foods Orangeburg, New York

Joe Salonia

Sales and Marketing, Gourmino USA Jersey City, New Jersey

If you’ve yet to incorporate Cutting the Curd into your podcast routine, now’s the time to binge. This self-proclaimed “sometimes irreverent, but always cheesy” series was founded in 2009 by Anne Saxelby and Sophie Slesinger, and covers topics such as sustainability, industry trends, making, mongering, pop culture, and so much more. Blending their expertise and passion, current hosts Cara Warren, Jessica Kesselman, and Joe Salonia continue the nearly two-decade tradition of interviewing cheesemakers and industry leaders, guiding cheese enthusiasts, foodies, and the curd- curious through the fascinating world of artisanal cheese on a weekly basis.

What is your process for selecting topics and guests for your episodes?

Cara Warren (CW): We look at audience interest first and foremost, but the overall goal is to create engaging and informative content that educates and entertains cheese enthusiasts and industry professionals while also highlighting the richness and diversity of the cheese world.
Jessica Kesselman (JK): There are so many people we want to highlight who are supporting the success of cheese in different ways. We each have a niche; I’m always concerned with whether we are talking to enough cheesemakers. I also like to talk to authors as a nod to former Cutting the Curd host Diane Stemple. She’s largely responsible for why I’m a host now.
Joe Salonia (JS): My aim is to choose guests who intrigue me and topics that genuinely captivate my interest, and I strive to mesh these two worlds. My goal is to make meaningful episodes that resonate with our cheese community and our audience.

What are your long-term goals or aspirations for the podcast? How do you envision its growth and evolution over time?

CW: I’ve always said this is the 60 Minutes or the late-night talk show of cheese. It’s a legacy cheese program, so my hope is that it will always be around and will continue to keep evolving—that our podcast brings together all types of cheese communities to learn from one another and opens doors for others.
JK: More voices from more parts of the cheese world, particularly with cheesemakers from cultures that are under- represented in the conversation.
JS: To remain a go-to source for cheese talk shows and foster an inclusive environment for all listeners within the cheese world. In the future, it would be fantastic to incorporate live call-in sessions during episodes, and perhaps even launch a Cutting the Curd YouTube channel someday—one can dream!

Pair a celebrity with a cheese.

CW: Blue cheese with Lady Gaga! Both are bold, unique, and push the boundaries of traditional expectations.
JK: I’m not good at this kind of thing!
JS: Sebastian Maniscalco and Langa La Tur—c’mon, who doesn’t like these two?!

What is an underrated cheese that everyone should know about?

CW: Goat cheeses! I love them and constantly talk about them to people who are haters. If they try fresh, delicious goat cheeses, I think their life would be changed for the better.
JK: Fontina. I wish it was easier to find better representations of in the US. Also, paneer! It’s great to see it getting more attention in retail cheese departments.
JS: Ricotta salata. I wonder if more US cheesemakers could be making this cheese as a by-product in their line—it’s a super versatile and cost-effective cheese!

What is a pairing you’re ashamed to love?

CW: Honestly, it’s probably string cheese.
JK: No shame in cheese! I grew up in the era of port wine cheese balls rolled in nuts, spread on a ritz cracker. I loved it, I haven’t had it in decades, but it’s a delicious core cheese memory.
JS: Pub cheese with Triscuits. That was fancy where I grew up and brings back lots of great family memories!

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