Caitlin O'Neill has been a Cowgirl for almost two years as our Head of Retail & Foodservice, after a decade in specialty cheese. She got started at the counter at The Cheese Cave in Red Bank, NJ and dedicated herself to cheese as she grew into a talented educator and industry thought leader. Today, Caitlin channels her passion for artisan cheese into retail operations, corporate events, staff trainings, and education. When you meet Caitlin you might be asked to pose for a selfie with her patented CaitFace™ (pictured above). We caught up with Caitlin to ask her about her infectious grin, her favorite Cowgirl cheese, and a decadent recipe for the long weekend.
What is the CaitFace™?
"I’ve had a big and goofy smile as long as I can remember.
I deeply value authenticity, personally and professionally, and also see it as a leadership currency for building trust.
Prior to Cowgirl, I was a traveling educator opening new cheese shops across the country, often in a different location each week. So, making my goofy CaitFace at people was a great way to quickly break the ice, gain some “realness” points, and make my joy for cheese and people memorable and impactful-- so much so that it earned a name from my fun colleagues, who would get their teams to make the face in photos and similarly goof off and bond together. Now, it’s “a whole thing,” and whenever I meet a cheese industry idol of mine, my second goal (behind good conversation) is a CaitFace selfie with them to forever remember the moment!"
What's your favorite Cowgirl Cheese of the moment?
"When I was still east-coast based and selling Cowgirl Cheeses at other retailers, Pierce Point was the seasonal cheese we awaited our small allotment of every year and cherished each and every herbaceous morsel. I love to amp up the botanical notes by pairing with smoked honey and California-based Gray Whale Gin w/ Fevertree tonic."
What's on your weekend cheese plate?
"Memorial Day is imprinted in my jersey-shore-bred brain as the start of grilling season, so I’ll be enjoying some Olympia Provisions Kasekraner (swiss cheese stuffed sausages!) & pickled cauliflower, alongside Pierce Point, and two more cheeses I’ve loved since the early days-- Jasper Hill (mini) Harbison, and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar."
What's your favorite recipe with Mt Tam?
"The Tam Burger came to fruition during my time interviewing here with Cowgirl back in October 2019. I love introducing new and unfamiliar flavors to people within a framework they can understand. For folks who might not otherwise be recreational cheese eaters, the Tam Burger delivers a clear presentation of all the best parts of organic, triple-cream Mt. Tam-- its buttery, mushroomy, pasture-driven flavor, deep and dense heart that resists melting just long enough to grill, and decadent mouthfeel. Who doesn’t want those attributes in a burger? Sliced down to patty size, wrapped in prosciutto, and delivered on a bun with all the fixins, the Tam Burger is a divine treat for new and long-standing Tam fans, alike!" - Caitlin O'Neill (Head of Retail & Foodservice)
RECIPE: Caitlin's Tam Burger
Makes two Tam Burgers
1/2 wheel Mt Tam cut along equator, well-chilled
6 slices prosciutto, cut thinly
1/4 cup caramelized onions
2 tablespoons honey or maple whole-grain mustard
1 cup mixed greens, lightly dressed with your favorite vinaigrette
2 sourdough rolls
- Arrange two slices of prosciutto in an "x" shape on a cutting board or work surface, repeat for second burger.
- Taking Mt Tam directly from refrigeration, cut in half along the equator, leaving all rind intact and maintaining the round shape of cheese. Place a disk of cheese atop each prosciutto "x" and fold ends over top. Use remaining prosciutto to cover any exposed cheese, wrapping around and taking care to coat cheese evenly with the cured meat. Cover and return "burgers" to the refrigerator (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) to chill.
- Preheat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or flat top grill over medium-high heat, and sear prosciutto-wrapped Tam on both sides. Prosciutto should be moderately crisp and Tam should yield to the touch, about 5 minutes total. Remove burgers from heat and tent with aluminum foil–the cheese will continue to soften after the grill. Split and toast sourdough rolls on cooking surface until golden and warm.
- Assemble: For each burger, spread 1/2 of caramelized onions on bottom bun and 1 teaspoon of mustard on top. Place prosciutto-wrapped Tam on bun and top with a heaping pile of dressed greens.
- Cut in half for a decadent cross-section or slice into quarters for more manageable bites. We love serving with grilled vegetables, a wedge salad, or garden tomatoes to balance the richness.
Need some supplies for the Memorial Day weekend? We've got you covered at our Creamery Barn Shop & Cantina in Pt Reyes Station, including our full selection of organic and artisan cheeses, American-made prosciutto and accompaniments to build the ultimate Tam Burger. We're open Thursday - Monday, 11 am - 4 pm (including Memorial Day) with grab-and-go cheese boards, local beer & wine, and a selection of Olympia Provisions Sausages for the grill.