1/ Among McGinnis’ favorites is Mimolette, a French cheese with cheddary properties.
3/ McGinnis has Asperger syndrome—sometimes characterized by extreme fascination with a certain subject—which he believes helps him remember so much about each cheese.
4/ He recently started a “cut and wrap” program, delivering smaller portions of local farms’ cheeses to restaurants that don’t have much storage space.
“Hello, my name is Sully, and I’ll be your cheesemonger.” If you’ve ever heard that introduction at Bottlehouse in Madrona or, more recently, at the newly reopened Vessel downtown, you’re already familiar with the Seattle man who is devoted to meeting all your cheese needs.
Though people may find his job title humorous, Sully McGinnis, 31, puts serious thought into customizing cheese boards for local diners. After asking a few questions about what customers are drinking, their ungulate preferences (goat, cow or sheep?) and where they stand on blue cheese, he delivers the perfect cheese board, talks about each cheese’s flavor profile and, if it’s locally made, shares a little about the farmers who made it.
“There’s so much that goes into it,” he says. “There’s science. There’s world history. There’s economics. Social studies. I could go on forever and ever. It’s so nerdy it’s unreal.” Formerly cheesemonger at Bottlehouse, McGinnis now sources, preserves and distributes cheese for Vessel, as well as through his own tasting, teaching and catering business, the Kitchen Sink Project (kitchensinkproject.com).
“For me, being a cheesemonger is my opportunity to advocate for a product that is oftentimes taken advantage of, especially in our society,” McGinnis says. “We throw cheese on everything and don’t think twice about it.”