10 Questions: Rich Rogers

The owner of Scardello Artisan Cheese on Oak Lawn used to be just your average film and video production person.

In fact, he spent 15 years shooting and editing corporate video. But the Dalhart native always loved good food and--in particular--good cheese. In between projects he studied the history of cheese, the making of cheese, how to pair cheese and wine...basically everything about the stuff.

In October of last year, he opened Scardello and settled into his dream job. There's nothing, he says, like being behind the counter of a cheese shop. Except maybe a plate of Velveeta and grits...

1. What is so compelling about cheese?
Oh man, that's hard to narrow down. I love the stories behind every cheese, how they fill your palate--I like it all.

2. But if someone walks in and asks for Velveeta?
I tell them to come back April 1st. We will have a big brick of it in the case. And they have asked, by the way.

3. You know it makes a dip and keeps forever...
My grandmother made incredible cheese grits with that stuff. I won't say anything bad about Velveeta. It has its uses.

4. Why did it take so long for good cheese to catch on here?
You know, I think some of it has to do with smell. Sometimes the best cheeses have a potent smell and some people are unnerved by it. And there are the hard-to-pronounce foreign names. And lifestyle. In Europe they delight in savoring each moment, and cheese is a way to extend the dinner and the conversation.

5. When you put together a cheese tray, it includes...?
Generally I want to mix textures and milk types. And I want a stinky cheese and, obviously, a nice Blue. I'm always surprised when people finally try the stinky cheese how quickly they come around.

6. How about when setting out mouse traps?
Cut up Kraft singles will do the trick. I don't think mice are all that discerning.

7. Some would say Parmigiano Reggiano is the 'king of cheeses.' Is there a best cheese?
A lot of French dispute it, but I do think Parmigiano Reggiano is king. It's great for cooking, it has tons of flavor, you can do a lot of stuff with it. And when you pop open a wheel of it, the pineapple smell is awesome.

8. Just how many cheese are there in the world?
Oh man, I have no idea. At the American Cheese Society competition last year there were over 1,000--and that's just here.

9. If you had to: Kraft American singles or Cheez Whiz?
Gotta go with the singles. Cheez Whiz is disgusting, even on Philly cheesesteaks.

10. Ever hear "that's cheesy" from customers?
I'm finding there is no limit to cheese jokes. We act like it's the first time we've heard it, though.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries