Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 11, 2017

Finding gouda vibes through cheese

Aron Whitehurst, who works at Cornucopia in Galesburg, talks about the different variety of cheeses at Cornucopia and his love for cheese. (Katy Coseglia/TKS)

If you walk into Cornucopia, you will most likely meet actor and writer Aron Douglas Whitehurst. However, customers frequently refer to Whitehurst as ‘The Cheese Man’ or ‘Cheesus.’ In December he will have been employed at Cornucopia as the Cheese Manager for three years.

When Whitehurst applied to Cornucopia as Cheese Manager he felt enthusiastic, and his love for cheese has aided an ongoing passion for his occupation.

“I was intrigued by cheese and I like to sell things to people,” Whitehurst said. “Their slogan was ‘Cornucopia: Good things come naturally,’ and that really drew me in. ”

Whitehurst’s job requires the memorization of the cheeses offered at the store by reading a “cheese bible” that contains names of cheeses and their histories. He is required to taste all the cheese products that come into the store. Whitehurst has also developed his own process for determining which cheese would best suit his customers’ taste buds. He asks what kind of cheese the customer enjoys, chooses one that he thinks they would like and then looks at their reactions as they eat. After he gathers his data he figures out which cheese is best for them.

This process leads to Whitehurst’s favorite part of the job: observing people’s reactions upon finding something they really like or their enthusiasm upon learning something new.

Whitehurst also enjoys writing. In November he plans to take part in National Novel Writing Month, also known as “NaNoWriMo,” in which the participants’ goal is to write their own 50,000 word novel in the span of 30 days.

“I enjoy many different things, cheese is one of them, but sometimes I like to dig a little bit deeper. I’m taking a little hiatus from the stage acting and doing research for things that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile and I’m going to tackle NaNoWriMo,” Whitehurst said.

Cheese is not absent from Whitehurst’s thoughts, though. He plans to write a section in his novel which he temporarily named “Cheese Quest,” where the reader learns about cheese through an imaginative story.

“In our world, we make cheese from cow milk and all of that, but in this place, it is called ‘Quesotopia,’ you can find cheese inside of caves. Can you imagine just going into a place being like, ‘Man, this place stinks!’ That is that good Stilton right there,” Whitehurst said. “And in Quesotopia, there are the Cheezus Crusaders, they follow Cheezus, which is the Muenster Messiah. And then there is also the fromage fiends. Yeah, intense.”

Similar to his favorite pairing of smoked gouda and muenster, Whitehurst pairs his cheese passion and expertise with his creative writing to result in a concept he enjoys. He calls the imaginative flow of these specific ideas ‘quesorrhea,’ combining ‘queso’ (the Spanish word for cheese) with ‘rrhea’ (the Latin and Greek-originating suffix used to describe flow). Whitehurst explains that the overall goal in both his job and his creative activities is to use his passions to bring joy to other people.

“One of my personal mottos that I have had for a very long time is to deliver happiness and smiles to the world. And I try to incorporate that into the position because, since I am able to be there with people, which I love, I can help them figure out what their palettes want, which is awesome.”

Jennifer Gonzalez

Tags:  art cheese cornucopia Galesburg gouda writing

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