Carolyn Stromberg, a longtime D.C. resident and native of Buffalo, New York, has worked in food and wine for over a decade, and founded Righteous Cheese in the fall of 2012.
As a toddler, Carolyn’s first word was cheese—really—but she didn’t become immersed in the world of food until a summer of traveling through Europe opened her eyes to the varied and complex cuisines of countries like France, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and
Upon her return, Carolyn gained experience working with some of D.C.’s most talented chefs at leading restaurants—including Nectar, Komi, and others—but it was at Palena that she discovered her greatest passion. While making nightly cheese plates, she became fascinated with the complex flavors and intricate stories that accompanied each new shipment of artisanal cheeses.
Carolyn moved on to assist Cowgirl Creamery in opening its new DC-area location, learning from some of the foremost pioneers of the American artisanal cheese movement. She next worked to create a wholesale cheese service for Cheesetique, an artisanal cheese shop in Alexandria, VA. For a number of area restaurants, she sourced local cheeses, helped chefs select which cheeses to offer, and held classes to train staff in tasting, pairing, handling and serving cheese.
When The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center unveiled its extensive cheese program, they tapped Carolyn and her years of restaurant experience to oversee it. At the Old Hickory Steakhouse, Carolyn hand-selected up to 25 artisanal cheeses at a time, aged them to peak ripeness in the cheese cave, and provided education to the restaurant’s guests through the tableside cheese cart presentation as well as cheese classes and tastings for the public.
In the fall of 2010, Carolyn launched The Cheese Course. Through tasting classes, private events, and restaurant consulting, Carolyn aimed to make the world’s best artisanal cheeses approachable, so others feel comfortable experimenting with new pairings and types of cheese. Righteous Cheese is an outgrowth of that passion – bringing unique and uncommon cheeses to local food-lovers and helping them navigate the cheese counter. Carolyn sees cheese as means of learning about the world—regionally, culturally, historically, and anthropologically. She believes that every cheese has a story, from farm to table.
And the journey toward discovering those tales is, happily, quite delicious.
“Why do I love cheese? I love how something so delicious can also tell a story of a community, a culture, a history and a land. It makes me feel connected to the rest of the world – whether understanding that a certain area makes sheep’s milk cheeses because of its arid, scrubby vegetation; or that Charlemagne is not just a name in a history book but that Gruyere comes from the time he ruled over the area in which its made; or even that a Minnesota cave was repurposed for cheese aging after Prohibition was imposed. Plus, cheese tastes pretty damn good!”
Meet our shop manager, Matt O’Herron, who has been with Righteous Cheese since early 2015. Matt’s initial passion for cheese was sparked while caring for the cheese cart at Michigan’s renowned restaurant, The 1913 Room. After years working as a chef, he found himself bitten once again by the cheese bug in 2013. Looking to get out of the kitchen, but wanting to remain in the world of delicious, artisanal foods, he began a cheesemonger
apprenticeship at Philadelphia’s DiBruno Bros. After a move brought him to DC, he took over as the Cheese & Charcuterie Specialist at Blue Duck Tavern in the Park Hyatt, then moved back into the retail cheese world at first Sona Creamery and finally, Righteous Cheese.
The one thing that keeps his passion for cheese ignited is that there is always something new to learn, and always something new to taste – especially on the Righteous Cheese counter. Although his specific cheese preferences change with the weather and his mood, he always has a soft spot for British styles. Next time you see Matt at the counter: ask about his last fishing trip, and his favorite chef-author, Edna Lewis.