Meet Your Monger: Kai Norton

Publié par Emilia D'Albero le

The February edition of Meet Your Monger highlights Kai Norton, the Cheese Manager at the woman-owned Bedford Cheese Shop in NYC, and one of the brightest stars in the next generation of cheesemongers. They are responsible for keeping the cheese case stocked with the best domestic and imported products they can find, as well as training other mongers on how to properly care for Bedford Cheese Shop's stellar selection. A passionate educator, Kai also teaches public cheese classes in the BCS education space and helps organize monthly cheesemonger education events. Kai also recently competed in the 2023 Cheesemonger Invitational, and was awarded an American Cheese Society scholarship, and they are currently serving on the ACS Education Committee. Read our interview with Kai below to learn more about their current role, how they draw inspiration from the cheese community, and why they love using Formaticum products

What inspired you to become a cheesemonger?
Once upon a time, I worked at a small local market called Local Foods in Chicago, IL. Having been laid off from a third wave specialty coffee shop at the beginning of 2019, my partner helped me get a job packing bulk items for the pandemic panic-buying era. Everyone needed 25 pounds of beans, rice and flour! So I packed it.

Months down the road, I had moved into the role of Category Buyer. They needed help in the deli and cheese so I opted to help out because it sounded so interesting and I really wanted to learn how to build boards. I was immediately fascinated by this unknown realm- rinds, blues, cheddar meets a blue - I couldn’t believe it.

When Immortal Milk did a highly conceptual guided audio tasting in collaboration with Local Foods, I was amazed - I remember being floored that this was a job! 

Conceptual food art brimming with dramaturgical, anthropological and historical styling choices, table design, and thoughtful pairing with unique handmade accoutrement….plus cheese!? It didn’t click until I saw someone who was Black doing this work - I never could have imagined there would be this community, so I went for it.

I scoured the internet to figure out how to pivot from food service/buying to working with cheese once the move to NYC was official. So here we are - I never could have dreamed up this reality but I’m grateful for the roundabouts on the road and the great people I have met along the way.

How do you use Formaticum products at your counter?
We use Formaticum as the recommended cheese storage method for customers coming in to buy large amounts of cheese. They are comfortable getting that extra hunk of Comté because they know it will hold up in the Formaticum Cheese Storage Bags or Sheets, both of which we sell at the counter. 

What is your favorite Formaticum product and why?
I am a fan of the Professional 4-Knife Set. It contains four distinct cheese tools: a general cheese knife, blue cheese knife, soft cheese knife and cheese spreader.

Unlike many others, they do the job they are supposed to do without you losing a limb, taking chunks out of your hard cheeses or smooshing that gooey soft goat cheese. It's just a really great cheesemonger toolkit, especially beyond the counter. 

 If you were a cheese, which one would you be and why?

Zimbro - a cute little Torta-style cheese. 

Zimbro can be quiet and understated, and it has a unique tang of personality but only reveals it with time. It can be pudgy, slightly firm or a gooey mess that’s kind of sweet but has a bite when necessary. 

It has a lot going on, and is hard to pin down- but reliable and true to itself. 

It is evershifting/fermenting.

What is one thing you wish consumers knew about artisan cheese?
The robust ecosystem that sustains such an ancient, sisyphean process born of necessity and passed down to spark passion for tradition in their predecessors. 

The energy, sweat, tears, years, land, ruminant, microbe and human hand that align these elements and shepherd these gems into existence. Artisan cheese is a great opportunity to remind consumers of the ethos, the humility, the humanity and respect behind food- but especially artisan cheese. This is what you are paying for. 

I’d like consumers to remember to savor. 

What is your favorite cheese storage fact?
Mold is not scary. 

You can cut off mold and salvage most cheeses- there’s little reason to have any waste if the cheese is first, properly cared for in the case, and then properly wrapped and stored.


We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Kai!

Follow Bedford Cheese Shop on Instagram @bedfordcheeseshop and Formaticum on Instagram and TikTok @formaticum, and stop by BCS if you're in NYC!

To nominate a shop or monger for the Meet Your Monger series, email

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