For the last ten plus years, Jessica Sennett has worked as a cheese monger and cheese maker, and to this day, the most common question the 30-year-old gets is, “How should I store my cheese?” That’s because most of us (including Jessica), at some point, have opened up the fridge to find a once delicious wedge of cheese turned grossly unappetizing and utterly inedible. So to stave off the untimely death of innocent cheese wedges everywhere and offer comfort to enthusiasts who love them, Jessica came up with a game-changing home storage and preservation solution that blends her passion for cheese with innovation. She calls her revolutionary device the Cheese Grotto, and this “shrine to the almighty curd” is about to get a little sister, the Grotto Fresco.
As a cheese specialist with over a decade of experience apprenticing and working with some of the best cheese makers in the U.S. and France, Jessica takes her cheese and its storage very seriously. She told WYSK, “Natural cheese, like wine, needs to be stored and aged in a climate that allows it to ripen to its full potential.” But after searching the consumer market, she was increasingly frustrated by the limited eco-friendly cheese storage options and plastic wrap quick-fixes.
She was also not alone in her need for a better solution. “Americans are investing more time buying specialty cheeses, but more often than not, their cheese is highly compromised once it reaches their refrigerator,” Jessica shared. What’s more, when a specialty cheese is shrouded in plastic wrap, it will become suffocated in the fridge. GASP! We had no idea we were asphyxiating our beloved cheese.
I wanted a way to store my cheese that reflected the beautiful years I spent on farms with the animals and with the milk.
Considering everything she knows, Jessica kept going back to the same thought, “If you’re going to spend the money and time on specialty cheeses, you need the right climate to preserve your investment.” With that, she set out to design a home storage and preservation device that would change the cheese industry.
From drawings to renderings to prototypes, Jessica spent over two and half years of research and development in a Brooklyn design and fabrication studio perfecting a modern cheese humidor – or a humidity regulated box – that would allow cheese to breathe without drying out. The concept and construction were based on an age-old science for preserving cheese and had to hit a number of critical marks to bring her vision to reality.
“I had to consider not only its aesthetic and form, but also run a series of tests to determine what conditions needed to be adjusted for ideal storage conditions. The question I posed to myself: how do I make the most all-inclusive cheese storage device for the home? It needs to be flexible in how many cheeses it can hold, it needs to be designed for an average fridge or counter top, and it needs to cultivate and preserve a vast variety of cheese’s flavors and texture.” Through it all, Jessica just kept reminding herself… “quality takes time.”
Designed in conjunction with an engineer and an industrial designer, Jessica’s Cheese Grotto has a vaulted ceiling to keep condensation from dripping on contents by directing any droplets to the sides. Complete with humidity and airflow controls found inside a glass and bamboo frame, her unique design protects against the harsh air conditions in a refrigerator and cultivates a perfect microclimate for the cheese. Simply put the cheese inside and watch it age to perfection.
Of her Cheese Grotto, which launched on November 2, 2016 as the first of its kind in America, and has been wowing consumers, experts and the media since, Jessica says, “It’s everything I’ve wanted it to be: it’s a green, domestic product, and a tool for the home cheese enthusiast for entertaining and storing.” But she was honest about just how challenging it was to get to this point in her journey. “There is a real barrier to entry between concept and prototype to manufacturing, and I understand why some give up before they’ve made it out the door.”
The overwhelming, out-of-the-gate demand for her original Cheese Grotto (aka Grotto Classico) confirmed for Jessica that her device was resonating with cheese lovers everywhere, and the feedback she continues to receive from customers is that it solves a common problem (and looks awesome while doing it). This invaluable proof-of-concept is what inspired her to get to work creating her newest model – the Grotto Fresco (crafted with birch wood, smaller footprint for the small-space dwelling metropolitan cheese lover). Jessica is currently running a crowdfunding campaign (on our sister platform) so she can produce the first, limited-edition run of the Grotto Fresco, and help even more people who care about their cheese. She’s packed the campaign with holiday exclusives, since… ’tis the season.
Jessica’s determination to never give up on her dream is inspiring, so we’re honored to echo her Cheese Grotto battle cry, “Preserve the curd and join the cheese revolution.”