NPR : News

A Food Sculptor On Her Passion: 'The Cheese Found Me'

Michelangelo used marble. Sarah Kaufmann uses cheese.

What drew this sculptor to her material? A strong affinity for tangy cheddar or the fact that she hails from the proudest cheese state in the nation, Wisconsin?

No, as Kaufmann tells The Salt, "The cheese found me."

What's more, she says, "it's much more delightful than working with wood or stone. You can snack while you work."

Last week, Kaufmann practiced her craft inside a grocery store in Arlington, Va. The sculpture, commissioned for Veterans Day and the Wounded Warrior Project, depicts a soldier carrying an injured comrade over his shoulders.

Kaufmann, in professional circles and beyond, is known as "the Cheese Lady." She's one of three professional cheese sculptors in the U.S., but she's also part of a growing movement of artists bringing food art out of state fairs and into the mainstream. (Check out the Experimental Food Society's site for some wild food art happening on the other side of the pond.)

Three years ago, Kaufmann was able to make cheese sculpting her full-time job. Weddings, Super Bowl parties, corporate groups and dairy associations keep Kaufmann busy carving into huge blocks of cheese, she says. Her creations have ranged from a life-size Santa Claus to a 6-foot-long model of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

Kaufmann started the wounded warrior tribute on Tuesday with two 640-pound blocks of Wisconsin medium cheddar. Using ceramic tools and a modified draw knife – usually used for wood carvings — she worked more than 50 hours to finish the sculpture by Friday. The cheese will last up to eight weeks if cared for properly, she says, and then it will be donated to a farm.

"It's emotion," she says of food art. "It comes to life."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In An Alternate 19th Century London, Sins Are Marked With 'Smoke'

NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with Dan Vyleta about his novel, Smoke. It's set in an alternate 19th century London, where the morally corrupt are marked by a smoke that pours from their bodies.
WAMU 88.5

D.C.'s Public Schools Select New Lunch Providers

D.C. Public Schools is abandoning longtime school food provider Chartwells in the wake of allegations of poor food quality and fraud and moving forward with new vendors for 2016. But, questions remain about the selection process and future oversight.

WAMU 88.5

Creating A D.C. State Constitution

We explore the historic process of crafting a constitution for D.C. statehood nearly three decades after the last attempt, and find out how drafters are preparing for the June constitutional convention.

NPR

Online Eye Exam Site Makes Waves In Eye Care Industry

Need a vision test? Now you can do it online with a computer and a smartphone. The site has attracted a lot of attention in the tech world, but eye care professionals have concerns.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.