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Ezekial Ferguson, Cheesemonger

Hometown: Harveys Lake, Pa.

Years at Di Bruno Bros.: 7

Fave cheese of the moment: Renata. It’s probably the coolest cheese in the shop right now. Renata is actually a Brown Swiss Cow, one of the three cows that cheesemaker Sally Jackson milks at her farm in Oroville, Washington.

I first read about her cheeses five or six years ago in The Cheese Primer, so I looked up her number and called her. She answered right off the bat and basically said, “I’m really busy. I’m making cheese right now. I’ll let you know when I have extra.”

I sent her a box of Torrone and a copy of Frankenstein, and I wrote her a little note and told her, “this is one of my favorite books” and I told her we were really into her cheese. A couple weeks ago, I finally heard back from her. She said, “I have some extra cheeses – would you like them? The book was great, but I really loved the candies.”

Number of cheese tattoos: Two currently – a Parmigiano stiletto and a label from Montgomery’s Cheddar.

In my fridge: There are probably six different kinds of cheese. I always have Montgomery’s Cheddar (I bring that out to dazzle people). I also have some Shellbark sharp goat cheese, which is local, and some samples from Locust Grove. Beer, I always have beer.

Hobbies: Bacon. Skateboards. Literature.

Afterhours hangout: Southwark. They do a Shellbark fondue appetizer with flatbread that’s awesome, plus the best Manhattans and martinis.

What he wishes customers knew: We sell low-end stuff and high-end stuff, and the high-end comes from small-scale producers. If you want to understand cheese and charcuterie, you have to be willing to try those things.

Favorite thing about Philadelphia: The awesome kinds of different food that I can easily walk, bike or skate to! On my bike, I can be at Southwark or the Oyster House in about 7 minutes; Reading Terminal and Chinatown, 7 minutes. Italian Market and Vietnamese supermarkets on Washington, 4 minute walk. Ask me tomorrow, and I’ll tell you my favorite thing is the beer.


  • aimee says:
    August 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Loved the profile! I didn't realize a single cow could have her own cheese, for example – Renata…?!

  • dietplaid says:
    August 11, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Bacon, skateboards, and literature. Very nice.

  • Shawn says:
    January 26, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Zeke always patiently answers my nerdy food questions and offers practical advice when needed. Sure, the advice is always “bacon” regardless of the question, but in almost every situation, bacon IS the right anwer.

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