A Wisconsin couple is spreading the culinary joys of the Badger State one stick of summer sausage and package of cheese curds at a time. Casey Diedrich and Taylor Ambrosius opened Wisconsin Meat and Cheese two weeks ago in a city with a legendary food reputation.
What made them think Wisconsin beef sticks and aged cheddar stand a chance of competing with shrimp and grits? A decade of frustration.
Credit for the store idea goes to Ambrosius’ dad, Steve, who she said lives in Florida half the year. “He had this idea for the last 10 years because he was never able to find good meat and cheese anywhere in Florida,” she said.
At least not Wisconsin good. Sausages and brats from the likes of Miesfeld’s and Usinger’s. Cheeses from Carr Valley, Henning’s, Marieke Gouda, Renard’s, Sartori, Springside and Widmer’s.
And really, is it the holidays without the joy of Pine River port wine cheese spread on a snowflake shaped Ritz?
I don’t think so.
That all-star lineup of meats and cheeses is something Wisconsinites take for granted. Geez, you can find award-winning meats and cheeses at gas stations in America’s Dairyland. Once you get out of the Midwest, that’s not the case.
And though Steve wanted to open a shop like this in Florida years ago, other business ventures kept him from bringing that to fruition, Taylor said.
When Taylor and Casey moved to Charleston three years ago where she enrolled in law school, they found that like Florida, the meat and cheese selection in South Carolina couldn’t compete with Wisconsin.
Casey and Steve talked about opening the store in Charleston for the last year, got serious about it in May and opened the shop Nov. 22.
Taylor said her dad is familiar with business operations, but Casey runs the show in Charleston. She helps with the marketing.
Wisconsin Meat and Cheese opened with 200 products from Wisconsin. Casey works with Wisconsin producers to select and arrange the meat and cheese orders. A family member who lives in Wisconsin drives a delivery truck to about 10 different locations to pick up the supplies and drives them to their shop in Charleston.
Some products were chosen because Casey and/or Taylor loved them growing up in Ashwaubenon and Seymour, respectively. Some products were picked after taste-testing samples shipped from Wisconsin suppliers, some cheeses picked because they “sounded delicious” based on descriptions including blueberry cobbler, maple bourbon, and mango fire.
Other Wisconsin products, including authentic Foamation cheeseheads and Racine Danish Kringles, fill the shelves. Casey is working on adding Door County wine to the offerings.
What about Wisconsin’s most famous cheese, the curds? They get vacuumed-sealed versions. Overnight shipping costs for fresh curds cost more than the cheese itself. There’s still some squeak, Taylor said.
You can coax some extra squeak with the microwave trick — zap them for a few seconds.
Taylor said there are more people from Wisconsin living in Charleston than they knew about.
Though folks don’t have to be from Wisconsin to appreciate the state’s most famous food export.
“Every time we tell people we are from Wisconsin, we always get asked about cheese right away,” Taylor said. “Although there are places to buy cheese here, there is nothing like the vision we have for our store.”
That vision includes spreading the flavor of Wisconsin.
“We hope to franchise the store in the future and introduce it into even more states,” Taylor said. “Which is even more exciting because America’s Dairyland can be enjoyed by that many more people around the country.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette written by Daniel Higgins.