Dame Judy Schad: For the Love of Chevre

SCHAD-capriole-cheese-picYou would expect a holiday gathering at Dame Judy Schad’s home to feature a silky fresh chevre. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But the woman who founded Capriole Goat Cheese 30 years ago wouldn’t stop there.

A cheese assortment this season would include a ripened goat cheese, perhaps O’Banon, SCHAD-solo-pica subtle cheese wrapped in Bourbon-marinated chestnut leaves. Or the vegetable-ash-marbled Sofia, named for Dame Sofia Solomon. Or her favorite these days: Piper’s Pyramide with its smoked-paprika accent.

Schad would add an aged cheese, the wildflower-and-herb-dusted Julianna or Mont St. Francis, its rind bathed in Lagunitas Imperial Stout, then complete a cheese trio with a chestnut or lavender honey, nut breads, plus a berry sweet-tart compote or preserves with the Sofia or Piper’s.

Yet Schad doesn’t relegate the nine different goat cheeses (photo above) that Capriole makes to the cocktail hour or a single meal course. She stirs fresh goat cheese, gently, into quiche, risotto, cream sauces or cheesecake and offers more than a dozen recipes that use it, including Apple Clafouti with Fresh Goat Cheese, at capriolegoatcheese.com.

“Fresh chevre is an amazing ingredient. You can use it in almost anything where you want lightness and loft,” she told us. “The creaminess does not come from butterfat, but from the handling of the curd and preserving that fragile texture.”

Her caveat for cooking with fresh chevre: “If you’re putting it in a cheesecake or a sauce, you want to mix it carefully — like folding in egg whites. You don’t want to destroy the airiness of the cheese,” she added. “If you overwork it, you’re going to get something pasty, like peanut butter.”

It was a love of French chevre and a neighbor’s gift of a goat that sent Schad into the kitchen with the little book, “Cheesemaking Made Easy” by Ricki Carroll. As the size of the goat herd increased at her farm near the southern Indiana town of Greenville and the Kentucky border, she founded Capriole Goat Cheese and went on to create award-winning fresh, aged and ripened goat cheeses.

Initially, she tried duplicating French chevres. But inspired by fellow artisan cheesemakers — Cypress Grove’s Mary Keehn, Vermont Creamery’s Allison Hooper and Mozzarella Company’s Paula Lambert among them — she began, over the years, developing a variety of cheeses “that are a reflection of a place and a person and all the things you associate with terroir which is more than geography.” Like the Wabash Cannonball pictured here.


“Wabash Cannonball is a reflection of the little boules we’ve seen in France and we’re not far from the Wabash River,” said Schad, who was “a Renaissance lit major so I loved playing with words.”

Mont St. Francis? There’s a Franciscan Retreat Center near Capriole.  And when she saw a cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, she created O’Banon, trying eau du vie and Cognac then Bourbon, figuring: “I’m almost in the heart of Bourbon country.

“I don’t know if it’s part of the mysteries of the cheese, but you can take that very same basic curd and turn it into a cannonball or a Sofia or Pyramide — it can be the same curd you start out with and they come out differently. I love it.”

Her favorite part of cheesemaking was ladling fresh cheese into the molds and baskets, but “ladling that 400 gallons of fresh curd is not anything I can do by myself anymore,” said Schad, a member of the Chicago chapter and frequent visitor to the Windy City.

The best part of these days? “It’s the people I work with and the customer on the other end. That’s what really keeps me inspired and excited about what we’re doing.”

“And it’s the people I’ve met along the way,” Schad added, remembering her first customers Carrie Nahabedian and Sarah Stegner and Jean Joho and her friendships with Sophia Solomon and Green City Market. — Dame Judy Hevrdejs                                                              Photos courtesy of Capriole, Inc.



Dame of Distinction: Nancy Brussat Barocci

Nancy Brussat.web
At the Annual Meeting and Dinner, held at Found Kitchen & Social House on Monday, June 13, the Chicago Chapter of LDE recognized and celebrated the addition of our fifth Dame of Distinction, Nancy Brussat Barocci, only the fifth in our 34-year history. Nancy joins former recipients Elaine Sherman, Marion Tripp, Alma Lach, and Joan Reardon in this rarely bestowed honor, nominated and voted on by our group of Past Presidents, and awarded to a member of long-standing who has excelled in her profession and shown great dedication to the Chicago Chapter.

Nancy had some thoughts to share with us:

To the members of the Chicago Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier:

I am still getting over the shock and surprise of being presented with The Dame of Distinction award at our Annual Meeting this past Monday. I was totally surprised and extremely honored. The downside of being surprised is that I didn’t have time to collect my thoughts and express my gratitude to an organization that has played an extremely important role in my life since 1982.

First of all thank you to Julie Chernoff and all the Past Presidents for this recognition. A big thank you to Past Presidents and dear friends Nancy Harris and Barbara Glunz and to my daughter, friend and partner Candace Warner for their kind words.

To all you “seasoned” members and those of you who have taken an active role in this organization I don’t need to tell you the many benefits Les Dames can give you. I have not only treasured the friendships I have made over the years but also value the business networking associations that have come as a result of working on various projects together. How very proud I have felt when we have presented Les Dames’ scholarships to deserving students or participated in one of the many organizations we have supported and volunteered for since 1982.

All those benefits don’t come without putting in your time – so I encourage all of you new members to “jump in” – to participate. Saying you’re too busy in an organization like this doesn’t fly! The very definition of our organization – a group of professional women who are leaders in the field of food, beverage and hospitality – says busy right up front. I’m so happy that I somehow found the time to come to programs, serve on the board and participate in fundraisers. What I have received in return far outweighs the hours I have put in! Thanks you all from the bottom of my heart!


Nancy Brussat Barocci