5 Questions with Cheesemonger Chris Kohtz

Wedge & Wheel Cheese Shop & Cheese Bar owner discusses his passion for curd.

What’s Chris Kohtz’s current cheese of choice? Any item that makes a customer say, “Oh my God!” (Which he insists happens daily.) If the cheesemonger had to choose, though, he’d say Italian Parmigiano Reggiano Vacche Rosse, or “Red Cows.” Pair with almonds, olives, and Barbaresco wine and he says you’re sure to be in heaven. Kohtz opened the Wedge & Wheel last November to share his passion for artisan cheese with downtown Stillwater. At the Wedge & Wheel, you’ll find customers perusing more than 70 handmade cheeses from the cut-to-order cases or cheese bar where selections change daily.

1. Where does the Wedge & Wheel’s cheese come from?
The majority of our cheeses come from smaller farms and producers–small mom-and-pop artisans. We seek them out wherever we can find them and have them shipped directly to us. We also work with our local distributors. The Twin Cities is lucky to have a direct-importer that flies in products from Europe. We start with what we can get that’s made in the triangle of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin and circle out from there. Then we add in the best cheeses from around the world.

2. How do you pick which cheese to sell?
Working within the seasonality of artisan cheese, which is ever-changing, we strive to keep a representation across all styles and formats: soft, young, fresh to robustly aged hard cheeses; blues to stinky, Cheddars to Goudas and formats that are unique to themselves; cow, sheep, goat, water buffalo, and blends.

Courtesy of the wedge & wheel

3. When did your love for cheese begin?
I’ve always appreciated a great cheese, but it was a trip to London several years ago and a visit to a wonderful shop in Marleybone that triggered a desire to find out more about truly handmade, small-batch, world-class cheese.

4. Why open in Stillwater?
I saw the opportunity to bring something to the community that was more of what the locals need and will appreciate going forward in a soon-to-be newly-energized Main Street. Tourism is very important to downtown Stillwater, but downtown also needs to reassert itself as a place of value for the locals, the people that live on the north and south hills and in the immediate St. Croix Valley. The Wedge & Wheel hopes to be part of that solution.

5. Why should people stop in at the Wedge & Wheel?
If you care about who makes your food, where it originates, and want assurance that it’s well-and-safely-made, come in. If you want the experience of sitting down and trying new cheeses, many local, paired with lots of other tasty treats and a good glass of wine, beer or cider, come in for that. If you believe in a main street that’s thriving with small, locally owned businesses, we’d love to welcome you. And, of course, if you just love great cheese, why wouldn’t you want to come in?

The Wedge & Wheel Cheese Shop and Cheese Bar, 308 Chestnut St. E., Stillwater, 651-342-1687, wedgeandwheel.com