Sue Conley & Peggy Smith

Sue Conley

Food and community have followed Sue Conley just about everywhere. She caught the restaurant bug early, watching her grandfather hold court at Sholl’s Colonial, the popular Washington DC cafeteria he managed throughout her childhood. It wasn’t too long before she found herself fronting the house of a local campus joint during her time at University of Tennessee. When she moved to San Francisco in 1976, she made her way into the kitchen, first under Bambi McDonald at Hotel Obrero in Chinatown and later, 4th Street Grill in Berkeley under Paul Bertoli. That’s where she met Bette, the namesake of their joint business venture, Bette’s Oceanview Diner. After 11 remarkable years of serving delicious everyday meals to an eclectic mix of Berkeley students, workers and neighbors, she sought a quieter pace, migrating to Point Reyes Station with longtime companion and ex-park ranger, Nan Haynes.

It was here that Sue met Ellen Straus, matriarch of the Straus Family Creamery, her husband Bill, and their kids Albert and Vivien. Inspired by the Strauses, Sue decided to sell her shares in Bette's Diner and find herself a place in West Marin’s growing dairy and organic farm community. Having shared interests and kitchens throughout the years, Sue’s dear friend Peggy decided to join in these efforts. They’ve been making friends and cheese ever since.

Peggy Smith

Peggy Smith knows her way around a kitchen. Born in Texas and raised in Northern Virginia, she started her culinary career serving hearty suppers to food and folk music lovers at Gallagher’s in Washington, DC. Her move to San Francisco in 1976 coincided with the food revolution begun by Alice Waters. Peggy was inspired, and kept her eye on Chez Panisse while developing her cooking skills at places like Noe Valley Bar and Grill in San Francisco, and Mount View Hotel in Calistoga. She had to submit her resume a dozen times, but her persistence paid off: in 1980, she was hired to cook at Chez Panisse’s new upstairs Café. For the next 17 years, Peggy worked the stove, preparing dishes made from vegetables just out of the garden, fruit right off the branch, and fish straight out of the sea. Over time, she managed the Café kitchen with Catherine Brandel and cooked with Jean Pierre Mouile, Paul Bertoli and David Tanis in the downstairs restaurant.

When Chez Panisse had cheese questions, they looked to Jean Pierre Mouile as well as Jean and Pascale D'Alos, master affineurs, for the answers. Over the years, Peggy learned the philosophies the family used in selecting and caring for artisanal cheeses. Then the folks from Neal's Yard Dairy in London brought fine English farmhouse cheeses for the chefs to taste, and Peggy was hooked. When Sue asked her to consider starting a cheese company in Point Reyes, she agreed.

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