For the Love of Cheese

By Sandi Butler Hughes
Photo Courtesy of Greys Fine Cheeses & Entertaining

Kurt Mullican is a cheesemonger, but he is more like a cheese-evangelist. He is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and he loves sharing his passion with other devoted turophiles from beginners to the more advanced. Kurt along with partner Jackie Mau are the co-owners of the new Greys Fine Cheeses & Entertaining. Their shop opens mid-February in the Williamsburg Shopping Center near the corner of Poplar and Mendenhall. Greys will be the ideal platform for Kurt to connect with shoppers and share the deliciousness of cheese.

“I’ve had a lifelong infatuation with food, and I’ve cooked my entire life,” Kurt said. He has experience in the food industry in his hometown of Lebanon, TN, as well as in Memphis working as a private chef. “Cheese is always the underlying piece - the foundation of my thoughts around food. It’s also something you can learn about for a lifetime, and never win - there’s always a new cheese or something new to learn.” As Jackie and Kurt were preparing to open their business, they visited several creameries across the country, including Tennessee’s Sequatchie Cove Creamery located near Chattanooga. “We wanted to understand the process and to have education so we can pass it on to others,” Jackie said.

Before the idea of a storefront was conceived, Kurt crafted made-to-order cheeseboards for delivery. The pairings of cheeses with cured meats, fruits, nuts, condiments, and crackers were very popular, and will continue to be a cornerstone at Greys. The cheeseboards are available for all size events, from an intimate date night to a large rehearsal dinner. Of course they are delicious, and the presentation is stunning. In addition to the boards, Greys offers cut to order cheese, a cheese bar, workshops, all things relating to cheese, plus wine and beer. The cheese bar is conceptualized as a sushi bar, and rather than raw fish, exquisite cheeses will be featured.

Greys’ cheeseboard pairings (cheese + meat + accompaniment) are specially selected by Kurt, and include a handwritten note from him of what flavors pair nicely together and why. “90% of learning is unlearning,” he said. “People like to imagine there’s a secret formula for deliciousness. While there can be, if you like it, then it’s a good pairing. That’s important. People shouldn’t be scared to try something they don’t think they like - that’s how you learn.”

Cheeseboards may be a trendy concept, but Kurt sees it as so much more. “Cheese has been around forever. People have been making cheese since 8,000 B.C., but if we can capture the minds of the people turning their heads to it now, we can make lifelong fans of such an awesome product. Making milk immortal,” he laughs.

When asked exactly what is a cheesemonger? He smiled and replied, “A purveyor of happiness.” Preach it, Kurt!

To learn more about cheese, cheeseboards, and all things cheesy, visit

How To Create This Masterful Cheeseboard

Gather cheeses, accoutrement, and any garnishes (optional). Vary pairings in texture: juicy, sweet, crunchy, salty, or acidic. Cut cheese to have long, broad pieces, not cubes - have maximum surface area for tasting. Pro tip: Cheese should be eaten at room temp but is easier to cut when it is cold. Slice cheese straight from the fridge, then plate it as it rises to room temp.

Plate each of the cheeses. Find an attractive way to stack each cheese so that a piece can be easily grabbed without disturbing other pieces. The cheeses should be a “step-up” in flavor between the first and third cheeses.

Add three pairings for each of the cheeses, from sweet to salty with different textures. Add some pickles (pickled anything-green beans, Brussels, etc) nearby as well. Having these helps cut the richness of all the cheese, and it pairs with the last cheese as well.

Add some “conversation crackers.” Crackers work great as palate cleansers and give something to snack on between cheeses. This gives a chance to chat in between cheeses and provides more crunchy texture also.

Hit it with a garnish and serve! This is a well-balanced experience that will be an absolute showstopper. Throw in some wine and forget about cooking dinner- this is it!

Shopping list:

Montealva, a mild Goat’s milk cheese from Spain
Pairing: lemon-sultana marmalata with caraway and saffron
Ossau-Iraty, sheep’s milk cheese with more flavor (said to be one of the first cheeses ever produced in France)
Pairing: black cherry confit; another option - Amarena or luxardo cherries
Challerhocker cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland (flavor star of the show!)
Pairing: crunchy walnuts and dried figs
Pickled anything