Great Northeast Cheesefest Brings Upstate’s Best Dairy to Queens


Turophiles (that’s cheese-lovers) should head to Flushing Town Hall this Saturday: In the spotlight at the performing arts center will be reps from artisanal creameries throughout the Northeast, along with top NYC chefs creating dishes from their products.

The cheese fest is the second in a series designed to showcase the bounty of New York State farms, organized by David Noeth and Joe DiStefano of NY Epicurean Events. Noeth, a chef and native of the Catskills town of Walton, and DiStefano, a food writer and authority on Queens dining, saw an opportunity to bring the two regions together.

“There are a lot of great products from the Catskills that need to be exposed and a lot of great farmers up there who need help getting their product to market,” DiStefano told the Voice.

Cheesemakers on site this Saturday will include Vulto Creamery, from Noeth’s hometown; owner Jos Vulto is a sculptor-turned-cheesemonger, whose hobby of aging curds beneath the Brooklyn sidewalk attracted so many fans that he ultimately started his own company.

Visitors should also look out for Cooperstown Cheese Company, whose products were served at the 2013 presidential inaugural luncheon. And local favorite Beecher’s Handmade Cheese will sample all of its wares, including its mac ‘n’ cheese, recently named Seattle’s best.

Also on hand will be Queens chef Hugue Dufour, of M. Wells Steakhouse (43-15 Crescent Street, Queens; 718-786-9060), who’s making a raclette featuring Vulto Creamery’s Andes cheese, and Alfonso Zhicay, of Casa del Chef Bistro (39-06 64th Street, Queens; 718-457-9000). Zhicay, whose Woodside restaurant focuses on the local and the seasonal, said that his dish will incorporate fresh produce from the Jackson Heights farmers’ market.

DiStefano said that he was especially excited that Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery (351 East 12th Street; 212-432-3825) and Harry & Ida’s (189 Avenue A; 646-864-0967) will present his take on Tibetan cheese soup, a pungent bowl regularly served at Jackson Heights spot Phayul (37-65 74th Street, Queens; 718-424-1869). And to help the public make sense of all the triple crèmes, sharp cheddars, and smoked cheeses, maître fromager Max McCalman will parse the cheesemaking process.

The beverages are local, too: Find the best pairing with pours from Rooftop Reds, the city’s only rooftop vineyard, and Maspeth’s Descendant Cider. Tickets are $60 for general admission and $150 for V.I.P., which includes early access — get tickets here.