Alex Josef knew that there was a hole in the Westside that desperately needed to be filled, and so he took it upon himself to fill it with cheese, charcuterie, beer, and more cheese. He and his business partner, Steve Jones, opened Wheel House Cheese Shop in Culver City on June 7th, much to the pleasure of locals who would prefer not to fight their way through cross city traffic for their favorite Taleggio or Gruyère.
With a background in PR and no formal culinary training, opening the Wheel House was a passion project for Josef who remembers watching Julia Child with his grandparents when he was a kid and becoming avidly interested in the food world during the late 90s when food TV started captivating the imaginations of the masses and refining the palates of Americans. Josef found himself spending all of his extra money on food adventures, both in new restaurants and in his own kitchen, and eventually decided that he would open his own epicurean emporium. He settled on cheese because he was fascinated by the very tangible differences between the varieties and it certainly seems that he has spent some serious time studying his subject.
During my visit to his shop, a woman walked in and mentioned a memory of a cheese that was made with honey. Josef immediately identified it as Honey Bee Goat Gouda, a mildly sweet and nutty Dutch cheese, and suggested she try Brabander Gouda from the Netherlands, also made from goat’s milk. As she approved her sample with delight, she thanked Josef for opening the shop in her neighborhood, before purchasing a hefty chunk of the Brabander for a pre-dinner treat.
Josef plans to host regular pairing and tasting events at the shop to give patrons the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the constant rotation of new cheeses, both locally-sourced and imported, that will be featured at the Wheel House. He also expects to offer wine in the months ahead and hopes that his shop will help pave the way for an influx of independent, fine food establishments in the neighborhood. If future new arrivals are anywhere near as lovely and full of delicious delicacies as the Wheel House, then Culver City is in for a wave of treats.
Images courtesy of @wheelhousecheese.