The 2024 Hot List: Emmy Rener | culture: the word on cheese
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The 2024 Hot List: Emmy Rener

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 Emmy Rener

Emmy Rener

Founder, Sophisticated Spreads
Los Angeles, California

Rising cheese-fluencer Emmy Rener has been a self- proclaimed foodie since she was young. When the pandemic hit, Rener decided to take a gap year before college and channel her love of food into a cheese plate company. Almost four years later, Sophisticated Spreads has catered over 100 grazing tables, assembled 1,000 cheese board boxes, and has gained over 420,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram. Rener has also judged the International Cheese Awards in Stafford, UK, and the 2022 World Cheese Awards in Oviedo, Spain.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the cheese world?

There are so many incredible people I look up to. I would say I see a lot of myself in Brieyoncé the Cheese Maven, or as most people know her, Ashley Noëlle, and she continues to inspire me. Her work as a cheesemonger, and now affineur, is amazing, and I love how she has flawlessly transitioned her work from the states to across the pond in France.

Another inspiration is Marissa Mullen, aka @thatcheeseplate. I bought her book when it first came out in 2016 and my eyes grew two sizes—I was fascinated by her artistry. It was a full-circle moment last year when I was able to meet her and thank her for her impact.

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

When I first started selling cheese at the Malibu Farmers Market and stepped into the industry, I remember people being shocked—and maybe disinterested—by my age. It felt like being 18 was used as a weapon against me for the longest time because people thought I was inexperienced, unknowledgeable, and at the end of the day, just a kid. I vividly remember telling people I was 25 so they would “trust” me more. But after attending the World Cheese Awards in 2022, I remember seeing the awe in people’s eyes when I said my age, and as the youngest judge by nearly 15 years, it hit me how much of an advantage my youth is.

Pair a celebrity with a cheese.

Zendaya is clearly a fresh chèvre with edible flowers and a drizzle of honey on top. She’s beautiful, showstopping, and brings fresh and exciting flavors to the board—or the red carpet—when she struts it!

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

Jeez this is a tough one. I would say my end-all, be-all is a sharp aged cheddar. You might be thinking its basic, but it’s a versatile cheese that is perfect in so many pairings.

What is a pairing you’re ashamed to love?

I am nothing more than a Boursin lover at heart. So, I would probably say Boursin with a spoon, straight into my mouth.

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