Second Act Artisan Cheese was founded by the Cheese Man himself, Richard Nathan. Rich is a recent upstate New York transplant with an extreme passion for cheese, and come to find out, just an all-around foodie. By trade, he’s a financial manager, but took up cheesemaking as a hobby to destress from the hectic corporate world. This after hours hobby soon turned into a bonafide obsession to learn more about cheese and its nuances. He took a few cheesemaking workshops and wasn’t satisfied with the product he was making in his home cheese cave. Yes, that’s right, he has a climate-controlled cheese cave in his home workshop. Rich realized he wanted to learn more about why his product wasn’t turning out the way he wanted and you can’t just throw together random ingredients together to make a great cheese. He furthered his education by attending a few more highly acclaimed cheesemaking workshops across the country before feeling confident enough to start Second Act Artisan Cheese.
Due to safety regulations, Rich is unable to sell or give out his personal cheese collection from his cave to the public. However, I think he may be holding out on us because he’s struck gold with a great cheese formula. His recipes venture along the adventurous, but cautious. He says, “I’ll be clear. I’ve made a lot of bad cheese and eaten a lot of bad cheese! I’ve studied and learned the science behind why certain molds and techniques are used to yield a great product. I use that as inspiration now to comfortably get creative with different flavor profiles, but following the same traditional methods.”
Rich was kind enough to offer us a private basic cheese making fundamentals workshop, one of three classes he offers with his business. This is a three-hour class that is incredibly comprehensive, yet presented in an approachable way where you’re subtly learning and don’t even know it. Rich even quizzed us! Aside from Rich’s humor and depth of knowledge, the best part is you get to eat the cheese you make at the end of the class. The three items we made were fresh ricotta, fromage facile and dark chocolate ricotta mousse. We enjoyed the ricotta on crostini and by blending it with dark chocolate chips for a rich, decadent dessert. The fromage facile was a blank canvas for us, so Rich showed us three ways to spice it up. Garlic and fresh chives, Tuscan herbs and chilies, and maple cinnamon rounded out the lot. I admit I ate most of these just plain without crackers. The cheese was so purely great on its own, I couldn’t help it.
The more I get to know Rich, the more I realize he is not one to do things half way. Not only does he conduct Second Act Artisan Cheese’s workshop out of his home workshop, he has 3 beehives and 4 garden beds full of summer produce. This guy is a true food artisan who takes his craft seriously. We cherished our freshly made cheeses along with his garden’s tomatoes and basil on our ricotta crostini with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Sigh. Simply delicious.
The Intermediate Cheese Specific Workshop is the next tier of cheesemaking classes Rich offers. This gives a more in depth look into specific cheese varieties and their characteristics. Rich also teaches custom group workshops that are catered to fit the need of any company outing, team building or even a family get together. The options are truly limitless.
Let’s be honest, unless you have a dairy allergy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take one of Rich’s classes. Any novice or die-hard cheese head feels completely at home and comfortable learning from Rich. He even caters to those with varying dietary restrictions like allergies (making sure the cheese accoutrement are safe) and including the option to make the cheese lactose-free for those who have a lactose intolerance. Second Act Artisan Cheese serves the niche of the number of foodies in this area who want to take their appreciation and understanding of cheese to another level. Check out their website for more information on which class is right for you, your friends/family or even co-workers!
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @