Fons Smits |Owner |Cheese Maker | Teacher | Cleaner | Coffee Drinker
After 20 years of making cheese for other people, our owner, Fons Smits decided it was time to make cheese and other dairy products (like butter) for himself!
So, in June of 2014, started making cheeses using traditional recipes from Europe and he added his own twist to each (from his experience making cheese all over the world)...ever since, he's been cranking out some amazing products.
Fons is originally from the Netherlands but, he's been here in the US for 10 yrs+ - he now resides in Zionsville, Indiana.
Laura Davenport | Owner | Sales and Marketing | Cheese Slinger
Age: 40 something...
Hometown: Hagerstown, IN
Tell us about yourself: I love cheese (and I've been told that cheese loves me)! I'm a MWF with a very supportive husband and a very creative daughter. I love my job and love feeding cheese to people (literally). Seriously, is there a better job out there?
What do you do when you are not working? Sleeping, mowing, biking, watching movies, eating cheese.
How long hae you been with Tulip Tree Creamery? January 2014
When and how did your love of cheese begin? Hmmmm...after attending the American Cheese Society in Vermont, in 2007.
What's your favorite cheese? All of them.
Your favorite restaurant? Hm.....too many to list.
Favorite Guilty Pleasure? Downton Abbey, Chocolate.
Best thing about working here? Eating cheese every day, meeting great people, flexible schedule.
Katy | Advisor | Cheese Namer | Farmers Market Sales | Cheese Slinger
How old are you? 36
Tell us about self? I grew up in Zionsville and moved to Chicago to go to school for theater. I worked in catering and customer service while acting as artistic director for a small theater group. After 10 years in Chicago I came back to Indiana and got right into the local food scene, where I met Fons and Laura. I created a company with my sister making gourmet dips, sauces and salad dressings. I reconnected with Fons and Laura a few years later and have been honored to be part of Tulip Tree from the start.
What did you or do you do when you are not working? When I'm not working I'm busy with my two daughters, Wren and Matilda.
How long have you been with Tulip Tree Creamery? Since the beginning
When and how did your love of cheese begin? My mother was a caterer out of our house from the time I was very little. I remember her bringing leftover baked brie with phyllo dough and apricot preserves. It was very fancy and decadent for my 8 year old palate.
What is your favorite cheese? That's like picking a favorite child! I love our Trillium. Laura brought some Dry Jack back from California that I'm still thinking about. A grilled cheese with Sage Derby is sublime.
Your favorite restaurant? My husband and love date nights at Major Ethiopian restaurant.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Croissants from Rene's Bakery
Best thing about working here? The best part about working here talking food with my customers. I love hearing about what folks are making with our cheeses, how they pair them and prepare them. I have some amazing customers!
Stephanie | Affineuse | Educator | Cheese Monger
How old are you? 26
Hometown? Rolling Meadows, IL
Tell us about your self?
I come from a Colombian family. I have been studying food, local sustainable systems, and farming through school and in practice. In my free time there’s nothing better going on crusades on my bicycle, working on developing an increasing number of interests in music and art, and looking at life with love and chasing after other wilder notions.
What did you or do you do when you are not working?
I used to host communal experimental dinners and studied the local food movement as a focus. I still love to learn about cooking, food systems, culture, and food in general. Also, For the past two years my fiancé Chris and I worked on small farms learning how to be farmers. We aspire to start a farm someday to support a burgeoning food culture and technologically sustainable methods of producing delicious and varied foods. In the meanwhile we garden.
How long have you been with Tulip Tree Creamery?
Since sometime mid October of 2014, right after moving back to Indianapolis from working as an assistant farm manager in French Lick, IN.
When and how did your love of cheese begin?
Back when I was studying in school earning my Anthropology degree. I began learning about the cheese while working behind a specialty cheese counter. I would taste them, experiment with them, and read up on the cultural aspects. I became quite enamored with the web of food culture, it’s production, processing, distribution, and of course, consumption. Those cheese slinging days, my farming experiences, and the strong belief in the necessity of working with nature, supporting the development of more resilient economies and communities has lead me here.
What is your favorite cheese?
That is a good question and I get it all the time. It’s difficult to choose they’re all so good for different applications and all have so many divergent origin stories. Generally those ostensibly putrid cheeses like Epoisses, Bonne Buche, Rogue River Blue, luscious and earthy Herve Mons Camembert, Delice de Bourgogne, Robiola, Nancy's Camembert, smooth and clean, Sofia, Burrata, and aged Ewephoria, Comte and Ossau Iraty. To name a few. I’m always tasting for the cheese that is unique in its combination of characteristics, milk, flavors, textures, density, or like-ability. If we’re talking about Tulip Tree Cheeses, it’s the Trillium and Foxglove. I keep discovering more on how to use them and it amazes me sometimes how incredible they are whether on their own or a part of a tasty vittle.
Your favorite guilty pleasure?
Licking my plate after a good meal.
Best thing about working here?
I believe that our cheeses and our team inspire excitement about food and the tasting experience. I’m honored to be among the diversity of Indiana artisans, farmers, and other local producers outlining the breadth of this state. The work we do day in and day out crafting a labor of love, truly believing we are bringing something new to palates near and far, and the inherent support and knowledge here inspire my passion of what we are creating at Tulip.