Meet Our Faculty
At Murray’s, we know cheese, so who better to teach our award-winning courses than those in the cheese trenches every day? From experienced cheesemongers to wholesale directors, from our cavemaster to our Kroger field team, Murray’s faculty takes cheese knowledge to a whole new level. We also host our beer, wine, and whiskey friends, as well as incredible producers of the products we’re proud to feature in the shop.
Murray's In-House Faculty
Jordan comes to Murray’s from Mesquite, Texas, home of the championship rodeo. She is a recent graduate of Yale University, with a degree in American Studies and a 120-page thesis on the Creolized Vietnamese food of New Orleans East. In fact, she swears New Orleans, Louisiana is hands down, the best food city in the country (get at her, New Yorkers), as it was precisely a summer of researching oyster plates and beignets for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum that convinced her food was her passion and her calling. She has since dabbled in food writing (check out her articles on the popular Serious Eats blog), sustainable farming, brick oven pizza-making, and compulsive bundt cake preparation. A serious Southern debutante who believes in the gospel of Emily Post and SEC football, she revels in the opportunity to teach every Whiskey and Cheese course possible then return home to Williamsburg to finish the evening with a bit more Bourbon. She likes her cheeses Alpine and her wines big, red, and Italian. Get her started on proteolysis and you’ll understand just why she made it to the Ivy League in the first place. Jordan is a serious cheese geek at heart, and is ecstatic to be a part of the Murray’s team.
Following her graduation with a degree in Economics, Anu decided to forgo the Wall St. path to pursue what was only a natural to her – cheese. She started her Murray’s career as most do, slinging cheese on the counter and spreading the word of cheese to all of New York at the Grand Central location. As she learned the ropes, she moved up to assistant manager, where she learned the ins and outs of the cheese biz. Following her passion for learning and teaching, she headed to the classroom where she can now be found performing the story of cheese through theatrical hand gestures and infectious curd-based enthusiasm.
Jason hails from what he refers to as the red-headed stepchild of the south—Florida-- where he grew up dreaming of the day he’d get the heck out of Dodge. As a young boy, Jason found his love of food, not in your normal sense; Jason learned to cook because his mother’s cooking was, well, (no offense, Mom), not that good-- a boy can only eat so many steak-umms and nachos. Breakfast was his first love of cooking. Then after high school, he moved to West Palm Beach and attended the Florida Culinary Institute, and for the following 15 years, Jason spent most of his day and nights in a kitchen. In 2000, Jason moved to the Big Apple where he instead found the Big Cheese. Getting his start at Dean & Deluca, Jason has been a curd nerd ever since. With stints at other cheese joints in town, Jason found a home at Murray’s in 2007 where he has been the Director of Wholesale ever since. Jason is certain he has the best job in cheese.
Amanda Parker, Field Merchandising Associate Director
Amanda has always loved food. While working (or as she says, bored out of her mind!) as an assistant at a large company, Amanda came to Murray's for a tasting, after which she decided to learn more about specialty food and cheese. (after all, she is an Italophile who lived in the charmed city of Bologna for a year as a college student) Soon Amanda was working behind the cheese counter at our Grand Central store, before her rapid rise to Store Manager of our Bleecker Street location. Now Amanda helps spread good cheese around the country through our partnership with Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain. When Amanda's not traveling the country training staff and setting cheese cases, you can find her infectious enthusiasm and incredible knowledge in the very same classroom that served as her introduction to Murray's.
Beth Griffenhagen, Marketing Manager
Beth is a born hostess and party-planner, so you'll feel extra at home in her classes. Beth's life of cheese began at a small specialty food store on the north shore of Massachusetts to fuel her passion for cooking and to surround herself with beautiful produce. The store needed a little bit of extra help with the cheese counter, and Beth soon moved from a freshman fromager to master of the cheese section, learning as she tasted (and tasted...and tasted...). She then moved to New York to pursue a Masters Degree in Education Psychology, but couldn't stay away from the cheese counter. Beth found Murray's, where she once again tasted her way to greatness. After helping hundreds of people plan parties using Murray's Catering Department, Beth now plans our events and ensures the hilarity of our Twitter feed, in addition to teaching what we like to refer to as Beth's master class: Entertaining 101.
Elizabeth Chubbuck, Associate Director of Wholesale
Elizabeth found true love with Murrays Cheese on a first date on Bleecker Street- not with a handsome Prince Charming but with 200 of her new favorite cheeses. Knowing she had landed somewhere special, Elizabeth, who was then working at a national magazine an ad account manager,, began entertaining her clients in our classes on a regular basis, then attending classes on her own at every available chance, and really upping her educational ante by volunteering in the Murray's Classroom at any and every opportunity. After a life-long love affair with all things dairy, Elizabeth took the plunge into the world of cheese, and joined Murray's as a Wholesale Manager. Now Elizabeth spends her days consulting with top-notch chefs at restaurants across the country, including Jean-Georges, Le Bernadin, and The Modern, training restaurant staff on the intricacies of cheese service, and educating our customers in the Murray's classroom.
Sascha Anderson, Director of Education
Sascha Anderson just can't stop talking about cheese. After studying English and working in education, Sascha followed her nose (and her tastebuds!) to Forward Foods, a cheese and specialty foods shop in her native Oklahoma, where she spent the next few years turning on her fellow Okies to the wonders of Epoisses and Uplands Cheese Company Pleasant Ridge Reserve. After she had nearly memorized The Murray's Cheese Handbook, she tried her hand at the Murray's counter, eventually finding her way into the classroom, where you might catch her introducing the basics in Cheese 101, waxing poetic on the origins of cheese in Cheese U Boot Camp, or leading you through the ins and outs of affinage in Mystery of the Caves.
Murray's Guest Instructors
Adeline Druart, General Manager, Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery
Adeline is French by birth, but Vermonter by heart. Now a partner at VBC, she grew up in AOC-rich Franche-Comte and learned the world of cheese at the prestigious French National Dairy School in Savoie. When she's not spending time with her husband, Marc Druart, another master cheesemaker, and their new son Matisse, she's busy winning awards for VBC's delightful cheeses- including ACS Best of Show runner up for Bonne Bouche, Adeline's favorite.
After a painfully soul sucking career in administration, marketing and event planning Summer decided to focus all her nerdy glory in the green pastures of Cheesedom. Like so many others at Murray's, Summer was plagued with the desire to "love what you do". She started working at Murray's Grand Central (a.k.a. Cheese Bootcamp) as a cheesemonger in 2011. After she got her bearings she became part of the Red Jacket Training group for Murray's exclusive partnership with Kroger. She loved flying and teaching the love of cheese so much that in January of 2013 she became a full time Kroger team member. Meeting and training mongers and cheesemasters all over the country and bringing real cheese to real people is a dream come true for Summer. She has never been so happy- especially when you consider she married the man of her dreams, James in June of 2012.
After spending a semester living in Florence, Italy, Sydney found the love of her life, though it didn't fall under the typical 'tall, dark, and handsome’—more like salty, curdy, and stinky. Within the walls of the San Lorenzo market Syd befriended a gentle but all-knowing cheesemonger and his worldy and eclectic cheese case. Since then, her path back to the States quickly led her to the doors of Murray's Cheese, where she has been serving up savory morsels to our customers since November of 2009. She has since developed an insatiable appetite for food knowledge, leading her to a position as our Bleecker Street store's Senior Headmonger, as well to her French Culinary School education in Classic Culinary Arts. Of all of her food-based activities throughout the day, of which there are many, teaching is by far her favorite way to spend her time- especially if the subject is her first love: cheese.
Ben Granger, Owner, Bierkraft
After working as a pastry chef in such venerable institutions as Town in Manhattan, Ben found himself behind the cheese counter at Park Slope's Bierkraft. It wasn't long before he had mastered the malty, hoppy goodness the store is known for, launching its growler program and becoming a partner in the business. Ben is the ultimate beer guru, whose homegrown hops have been featured in The New York Times and Edible Brooklyn. From stocking his shelves with esoteric Belgian brews to mastering his own home brews, Ben inspires a thirst for knowledge (and beer!) in all of his students at Murray's.
Chris grew up in the North East of England and didn't discover the joys of real cheese until his mid twenties whilst working part-time at Neal's Yard Dairy to help fund his post graduate studies. His academic career very quickly took second place to the delicious array of cheeses he was selling and eating. Chris worked full-time for Neal's Yard from the Summer of 1996 until March 2011. His roles have included retail, cheese maturation, wholesale, export and, more recently, establishing the tastings program for Neal's Yard Dairy, running public tastings and providing training within the food industry. Chris has also worked in TV and radio, ran classes at major food festivals and shows throughout the UK and judged at the British Cheese Awards, World Cheese Awards and at The Great Yorkshire Show. He is currently resident in New York where he still works part-time with cheese but is also exploring a passion for beer through home brewing and his work with Beer Table, Brooklyn. Chris is married with three guitars.
Bob McClure, Co-Owner, McClure's Pickles
Bob is a man of many talents, including acting and comedy writing, but the one we like best is pickle-making. As co-owner of McClure's pickles, Bob oversees new product development, East Coast distribution, small batch production, and plenty of other exciting tasks- from diving the delivery van to carting bushels of cucumbers upstairs at 4:30 am. The McClure family, including parents Mike and brother Joe- have preserved their great-grandmothers pickling recipe while innovating with new products like their to-die-for Bloody Mary mix. We can't wait to see what they come up with next!
Christine Lehner, Owner, Let It Bee Honey
Christine is a woman of many talents- the author of three books also co-owns Let It Bee Honey. Cultivating rich nectar since 2004, Let It Bee has hives in Westchester and Manhattan- including on the roof of an Upper East Side building, where the bees feast on the mayor's backyard of Charles Schurz Park, enjoying a woodsy mix of trees including acacia, locust and maple. When Christine isn't tending hives or carefully carting honey through her pals' UES apartment, you can find her traveling the world, trying every variety of the nectar of the gods she can.
Diane Flynt, Owner, Foggy Ridge Cider
We're tempted to make a comparison between Diane Flynt, American cider enthusiast and founder of Foggy Ridge Cider, and another apple advocate who traversed the countryside sprinkling apple seeds wherever he went, but we happen to think that Diane's method of delivery is much more engaging- not to mention delicious! A former banker turned Food and Wine Magazine Small Batch Superstar, Diane leads workshops on heirloom apples and apple trees in addition to growing a wide variety of apples from Dabinett to Newtown Pippin, which are then pressed at Foggy Ridge to make three ciders and one cider-apple brandy blend. If Diane's sparkling personality and passion for preserving heirloom apples aren't enough to make a cider convert out of you, we guarantee that on taste of her cider at our next cider and cheese class will be!
Greg Hall, Founder, The Hungry Brewer
Greg is no wall flower in the world of beer. He has a bold reputation for being a beer visionary with a deep understanding of food culture as well as craft beer. Greg began his storied brewing career in 1988, at the Goose Island Brewpub in Chicago, where he introduced both food and beer innovations for 20 years. He graduated from the Siebel Institute, but never stopped being an aggressive, rule-breaking student of brewing, learning beer insights from around the globe. He holds claim to many award-winning beers, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival and a gold medal at the World Beer Cup.
A self-proclaimed francophile, Jeremy's wine knowledge and enthusiasm covers la douce France and so much more. After working with the boutique wine shop Dandelion Wine in Brooklyn, Jeremy became a sommelier at Mario Batalis Otto Enoteca, training the staff and educating guests on all aspects of the extensive Italian wine list. Now you'll find Jeremy back in Brooklyn mastering mixology at acclaimed seasonal American restaurant, Dressler when he's not teaching at The Harmony of Wine and Cheese at Murray's, of course.
Jon Lundbom, Division Manager, B-United
Jon Lundbom's enthusiasm for all things beer dates back to college, when he dove head-first into Chicago's fertile world of home brewing and beer appreciation. Many years and several degrees later, Jon began working in specialty cheese in New York and more seriously studying fine food, drink, and of course cheese. At his day job at B. United International, one of the nation's foremost importers of beer, sake, mead, and cidre, Jon travels the world on a never-ending quest to learn more about the world's newest and most exciting beverages. When he's not jamming on the latest beer import, you can find Jon jamming on his banjo, but don't hold that against him.
Rick Field, Owner, Rick's Picks
Rick Field rekindled a family tradition of pickle-making in the kitchen of his Brooklyn apartment in the mid-nineties. Seven years later, he left a career in television to start Rick's Picks, a pickle company that uses locally-sourced, seasonal produce. Today his unique, award-winning pickles can be found in stores from coast to coast and at farmers' markets in the New York City area. Right now he's digging his recipe for Phat Beets Happy Appy- a winning combo of Phat Beets, baguette and fresh goat cheese like Westfield Capri.
Zeke Freeman, Owner, Bee Raw Honey
Zeke's storied career in food spans from the 90s in Europe as an aspiring chef to present day as the owner of Bee Raw Honey. This sweet company champions the cause of the American honey with its single varietal honeys found on our shelves, and in our classroom Zeke champions the sweetness of the killer cheese and honey pairings he has been fine tuning for years.
Marina Marchese, Red Bee Honey
Marina Marchese is changing the way people taste and think about honey. This entrepreneur is a beekeeper, an author, a honey expert and the visionary behind Red Bee ® Artisanal Honey. It was on a visit to Montalcino, Italy the City of Honey, that Marina became passionate about single-origin honeys. Compelled by the philosophy of terroir and the diverse flavor profiles of honey determined by the type of nectar gathered by the honeybees, Marina launched a revolutionary collection of single-origin honeys under the Red Bee Brand. Marina is the founder of The American Honey Tasting Society, to protect the quality and character of this noble food and educate through her signature Honey Tasting Laboratory Workshops. Her next book The Honey Connoisseur will be released in 2013. Red Bee Honey received the Slow Food Snail of Approval in 2012.