Specialty/Gourmet

The Dill Pickle Co-Op’s Local Cheese Mission

Chicago grocer seeks to build equitable economic relationships with suppliers
Dill Pickle Food Co-Op
Photograph courtesy of The Dill Pickle Co-Op

The Dill Pickle Co-Op is on a mission to provide a space for all local vendors within 300 miles of its 12,500-square-foot store in Chicago, including creameries and cheesemakers. WGB recently had the opportunity to connect with David Nobel, marketing manager for Dill Pickle, to discuss the latest in cheese trends during a pandemic.

Jennifer Strailey: What has been the cheese trend story since the pandemic? What products are resonating most? 

David Nobel: Some of the trends that we have seen during the pandemic, when it comes to cheese, is that our customers seem more adventurous and inquisitive about the food they are eating and making at home. Due to the many restrictions that have come with the pandemic, people have been attempting to recreate the type of atmosphere they may have once enjoyed going out to a restaurant or bar. It has been a lot of fun talking to our customers and educating them on cheeses they may have never tried before, while also suggesting wine, beer or accoutrement pairings.  

How do you see cheese trends evolving as we move out of the pandemic? What will be hot this summer and fall? 

As we move out of the pandemic and start heading into the summer and fall, we are confident that our customer base and owners will continue to explore new foods and experiences. We have seen an increased interest in people wanting to make their own cheese boards when entertaining or adventuring within the city. Right before the pandemic hit, our store was offering demos and hands-on classes that taught people how to build their own board and how to pair cheeses. We are hoping to reintroduce this as we move out of the pandemic during the summer.   

What has been the biggest surprise in the cheese category in the past year? 

The biggest surprise that we learned this last year is how many different local vendors for cheese we have in the Chicago area. With many of the restaurants closing and the lack of availability with farmers markets during the winter months, many vendors and small producers reached out to us for support. We were extremely happy to start these new relationships and be a source of income for producers that were struggling during the pandemic. 

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