In normal times, the holiday season was always my favorite time to work in food. Ever since my early days as a cheesemonger, it felt like a simultaneous whirlwind of spreading joy and going to battle—getting to work well before dawn, cutting wheels and wheels of cheese into chunks and platters, fueling up on coffee and adrenaline to service customers who crowded our stores and counters in search of their holiday sustenance and gifts.
But this isn’t normal times. As we move through the 4th quarter, it already doesn’t feel like the normal version of this joyful, chaotic and exhausting time. This year, like last year, we at Cowgirl—and the broader food and service industries—are feeling the pain of the past two years.
Normally, this is the time of year when we take pride in sharing our hard work—to bring you a piece of what we love to do. But wow—is it tough for everybody right now. We all see the “now hiring” signs in our fellow storefronts, on restaurant windows, on delivery vans, everywhere. I see exhaustion in our teams and hear the same from colleagues and industry friends. As a customer, I feel it too. Longer waits, not always able to get what I want, but empathetic to the people doing the very best they can.
Nevertheless, we persist—we cheesemakers are hustling to make those wheels and wheels, getting them out the door so others can dance the retail dance. At Cowgirl, we do a bit of everything—our production team is already hard at work making cheese that you’ll enjoy over the next few months. Our sales team is taking orders for that cheese, plus the accoutrements we sell from our jam-making, cookie-making, cracker-making partners—all to round out your cheese plates for Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas or New Year’s. Our fulfillment team is prepping our walk-in’s for the onslaught of pallets of products, and our E-Commerce team is gathering the thousands of boxes that we’ll send out in November and December. Our own cheesemonger and cafe team is gearing up for holiday guests who come to enjoy the misty West Marin headlands in winter.
Last week, though, I stood in front of our flagship barn in Point Reyes Station, turning visitors away as I shared the same sentiment many times over—we are so sorry to be closed today; we just can’t find enough people. Do you know a cheese lover? Send ‘em our way, please! Mongers and cooks, cheesemakers and drivers—we’re trying to rebuild as we cautiously come out of the last two years of starting and stopping and restarting.
So, this holiday season—every holiday season, but especially this one—be kind to those who serve you. Be patient with the people stocking shelves and calling out numbers at a counter. Be generous to everyone trying hard to share food and create moments of joy. We’re tired, and we’re trying—and we thank you for your support as we all get through this together.
- Amanda Parker, Cowgirl Creamery Managing Director