Fresh off his ground-breaking success at the world cheesemonger competition and interview on NPR, Nadjeeb Chouaf has closed Flora Artisanal Cheese. Housed first at Milli Coffee and then at Timbercreek Market, for years Chouaf’s cheese shop was beloved in Charlottesville and beyond, even making Eater’s Charlottesville Heat Map.
What’s next for the man whose cheese career began at Charlottesville’s Whole Foods? The Big Cheese is moving to The Big Apple. (Mmm, cheese and apple.) There, Chouaf will join the sales team of importer Columbia Cheese, both selling cheese and helping to develop a monger education series called The Barnyard.
“I really just want to thank everyone for having had the opportunity to share my love of cheese over the past four years with Charlottesville,” says Chouaf. “I have always wanted to focus on selling my favorite cheeses and with Columbia I get that opportunity. I will miss Charlottesville, but couldn’t pass up an opportunity at this time in my life.”
Here in Charlottesville, Chouaf will be missed, too, having enriched the lives of so many with expert recommendations, sourcing, and education. The tireless cheese apostle also leaves a trail of special experiences all over town – a cheese cart at The Alley Light, cheese plates at The Wine Guild, raclette and grilled cheeses at Champion, cheese dinners at restaurants like Lampo, vineyard cheese service, and a “perfect bite” tasting to celebrate being crowned the nation’s best cheesemonger.
But, Chouaf’s greatest value was providing us access to a world class cheesemonger whenever we wanted it. My favorite time to drop in on Chouaf was weekdays after work. “I need just one cheese to have for dinner tonight,” I’d tell him. Add a baguette and – voila! – a world class dinner every time.
Chouaf’s pairing expertise was also invaluable. While wine and beer are the most common accompaniments, one of my favorite Flora memories is when Chouaf suggested something even better. The cheese was Wrangeback, a hard, washed-rind cheese from Sweden, dating back to the 1800s. What should I drink with it? Bourbon, Chouaf said. You got it!
And so, while Charlottesville wishes Chouaf well in the big city, let’s hope he comes back one day. World class cheesemongers who recommend bourbon with your cheese don’t grow on trees.