The January edition of Meet Your Monger spotlights Alena Douglas, the Cheese & Specialty Food Director at Provisions Wine in MA. Growing up in a multicultural household helped nurture Alena's passion for specialty food, which has carried her through more than 8 years in the cheese industry! Alena uses her passion and extensive cheese knowledge to create a truly impressive cut-to-order cheese & charcuterie program across Provisions' 3 locations, including teaching their cheese pairing classes and events. Along with being a stellar ambassador of Formaticum products, Alena is also a Cheesemonger Invitational finalist, making her one of the country's best cheesemongers! Keep reading to learn more about why Alena loves Formaticum products for her counters.
What inspired you to become a cheesemonger?
I grew up with a Spanish-speaking influence because my mother grew up in Venezuela. That led me to want to connect with another romance language in my mother's family roots - Italian. My connection to these languages and my time in Italy encouraged my appreciation of art and food. Working with cheese was a happy coincidence that turned into a passion and career.
How do you use Formaticum products at your counter?
We have cut-to-order cheese counters at our three Provisions Wine locations in Western Massachusetts. We work exclusively with Formaticum cheese paper
for our cheeses and charcuterie. Since we buy whole wheels, we will soon be using custom-branded Formaticum sheets
when we cut from the wheel and wrap to order.
What is your favorite Formaticum product and why?
I love the branding and function of all Formaticum products to be honest, especially the Cheese Log books
for burgeoning cheese lovers. We currently use the One-Ply sheets at our counters which work well to preserve the food within and keep it tasting fresh. I love the custom-printed Formaticum Enduit paper that we will be using soon, as it has a lighter and and more breathable texture and is biodegradable.
If you were a cheese, which one would you be and why?
So hard to choose. Right now it would be the 1kg size Epoisses from Berthaut.
She has a big and bright personality, bursting with umami. A little funky but surprisingly accessible.
What is one thing you wish consumers knew about artisan cheese?
There's so much love, knowledge and hard work behind the scenes in the making of handmade cheeses. I think if consumers saw what it takes to create these cheeses, there would be a lot more understanding and appreciation about price point.
Also there's a cheese for everyone - truly.
What is your favorite cheese storage fact?
When you cut open a cheese the process of oxidation begins and the beautiful nuance and complexity has a window of quality, based on its texture and style. What something like Formaticum
paper does is extend and preserve that delicate nuance so you can enjoy your cheese for longer. A good paper provides your cheese (a living food) with protection and appropriate humidity regulation - it's also re-usable!
Follow Provisions Wine on Instagram @provisionswine and Formaticum on Instagram and TikTok @formaticum, and stop by one of their 3 locations if you find yourself in Massachusetts!
To nominate a shop or monger for the Meet Your Monger series, email firstname.lastname@example.org.