Five years ago, Justin Bonard, a certified Cicerone (akin to a wine sommelier, but for beer), left his job at The Meddlesome Moth to help a friend open a new beer and whiskey bar in Denton called East Side. Before the place opened, Bonard could be seen inside painting the walls and working on the floors. Today, he can be seen doing the same thing in the nearly hollowed out remnants of the now-closed Denton juice bar Everyday Nectar. He is rushing to open a spot of his own: an artisan cheese shop called Ten:One.
Ten:One, named after the ratio of milk that yields a pound of cheese, will have about 50 cheeses to pair with a rotation of beer and wine. Among the things that set Bonard’s cheese shop apart will be his in-house accoutrements made in their commercial kitchen space.
“Typically, you get a cheese board at whatever restaurant with two or three cheeses and maybe some crackers or something,” he says. “Instead of paying $20 for a jar of blackberry and thyme preserves, we will have those things made fresh every day.”
Patrons at Ten:One will not have just any roasted nuts tossed on their cheese boards. They will be treated with orange ginger almonds or whiskey caramel macadamia nuts, Bonard says. Many years in the service industry have acquainted Bonard with other food businesses in the area, including Denton bakery Ravelin. They are world-class, he says.
“They’re excited about working with their specialty loafs,” he says. “They started pitching that to me. The bakery was like, ‘We really like our black pepper prosciutto loaf with cheese.’”
Aiming for exclusivity has been a problem for cheese shops in Dallas, Bonard says, claiming this does not make their cheese better. He wants to focus on making everything inclusive, he says. He'll do this by forming collaborations and partnerships in the community like the one with Ravelin.
Ten:One will have about six tables with the capacity to seat around 20 people. It is everything he needs, Bonard says.
Bonard’s love for craft beer started with his love for music. He got a job at Hailey’s, a live music venue and bar in Denton. The place would bring in national touring acts and featured all kinds of genres, he says. Working behind the bar as a barback, he got into craft beer right away. As a lot of barbacks do, he became a bartender and was later promoted to a management position.
“I took over the beer program there because Hailey’s had 52 taps, which was a lot for a music venue,” he says. “Hailey’s went through some tumultuous times and changes in ownership. That was right when the [Meddlesome Moth] was opening.”
Bonard began bartending at the Meddlesome Moth to work at the next level of beer, he says. It was then that he knew he wanted to pursue his Cicerone Certification. Before working a year at The Moth, he passed his Cicerone exam on his first try. For three years, he elevated his beer game, and dove deep into food. This is when he discovered his love for cheese.
On his way home from work at The Moth, Bonard would stop by Scardello, a Dallas cheese shop. Around the same time, he began organizing beer dinners. There are a lot of parallels between the craft beer community and artisan cheese, he says.
“If you asked any person how many kinds of cheese there are, they could probably list five to 10. Same with beer,” he says. “Most of the world drinks lite domestic beer. So, education will be a big factor."
Living in Denton, Bonard grew tired of his commute to Dallas. He decided to make the move to East Side. He became the in-house Cicerone. Despite East Side not having a kitchen, he was able to keep up with his beer dinners, Bonard says.
Through this, he was able to team up with local restaurants, exposing him to a variety of chefs and many different styles of food. This led Bonard to consider pairing beers not to a single dish, but to a whole meal.
“So, when you’re mapping out five courses, you have a different approach than ‘I’m having salmon. What kind of beer do I have with this salmon?’” he says. “You have to think, ‘Well, what did you have before the salmon? What are you going to have after the salmon?’”
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Bonard often has yearly milestones he is working toward. After getting married, buying a house, having children and getting his masters in English literature, Bonard went on vacation and discovered his next venture. It all started as a joke.
“I was with a friend and local business owner about a year and a half ago,” he says. “We were on vacation and having a good time and I was like ‘Hey, open a cheese shop so I don’t have to drive to Dallas.’ He goes ‘OK. You’re gonna run it, right?’”
A week and a half later, they began discussing the viability of this idea. Quickly, his plans of being a teacher fell by the wayside, and he started looking for a vacant space for his shop. He says Ten:One will never be a goal that is fully achieved. It will be constantly expanding. It is ambitious, he says.
“It’s change-the-world ambitious," he says.