Kurt Beecher Dammeier is a businessman who puts his money where his mouth leads him and where his passions lay: with the pure food movement. He opened Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle’s first artisanal cheese-maker, in 2003 in the heart of historic Pike Place Market. Securing the location and setting up the factory proved easier than finding a steady source of premium milk free of antibiotics and hormones. Beecher’s source, initially, was a single farmer in Duvall, Washington. As the line of products grew, so did the number of dairies who signed on, all just outside of Seattle.
The credo at Beecher’s couldn’t be simpler: Their food is “free of all artificial preservatives, coloring, and flavor enhancers. It’s just pure, all-natural, full-flavored food, handcrafted in traditional ways with the freshest ingredients available.”
Prepare to wait in line at the shop, where you can watch the cheesemakers work and sample some of the award-winning cheeses. Consider buying their amazing mac and cheese (ready to eat or frozen to take home), or a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, along with a wedge or two of whatever you decide is your favorite cheese: Flagship cheddar; pepper-corn studded Marco Polo; fresh, creamy, honey-sweetened Blank Slate; or squeaky, bite-size cheese curds. And don’t forget a box of crackers.
When Dammeier established the shop, he also started the Beecher’s Flagship Foundation, which extends the company’s commitment to transforming the way America eats. The Foundation conducts free “Pure Food Workshops” in hundreds of area elementary schools. They teach fourth and fifth graders about common food additives, how to decipher labels and nutritional claims, and explain the difference between whole and processed foods. The session ends with a hands-on cooking lesson making vegetable chili.