Kurt Gurdal Cuts the Cheese: Artisan Cheesemonger Announces Brick & Mortar "Canyon Grocer."
Santa Monica Canyon patrons soon to get their favorite weekend pop-up seven days a week at the new ‘lil grocer with specialty artisan foods
August 26, 2022
Beginning Labor Day Weekend, second-generation international cheese expert Kurt Gurdal is opening a small, carefully curated grocer at Canyon Square on Channel Road—just a stone's throw from where Gurdal has been sharing his cheese and speciality product knowledge with local foodie enthusiasts at his weekend outdoor pop-up.
In a recent Instagram post, Gurdal shared the news about his new indoor space: “This cozy ‘lil brick & mortar will be packed with great yummy items from producers I love to represent. I’m excited to add a small market to such a wonderful community and make it easy for people to walk on down and pick up a loaf of bread or a missing ingredient to their dinner recipe.”
The space will be stocked with cheese & charcuterie, jam, honey, nut butters, pasta, olive oil & vinegar, mustards & other condiments, tinned fish, bean to bar chocolate & other confections, ice cream, snacks for the beach and more. The legacy cheesemonger will offer more every day items, such as dairy, eggs, butter & fresh baked bread.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Gurdal was raised eating goat cheese on toast and carrying Comte and salami in his school lunch. His parents, Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal, are owners of a world-renowned cheese shop, Formaggio Kitchen. Gurdal moved to Southern California to attend college — but it became clear early on that he was meant to continue the family tradition of cheesemongering.
“Although I literally grew up immersed in cheese, becoming a cheesemonger still requires formal training. So I began mine at Neal's Yard Dairy in London, which has the reputation of being one of the world's best shops — and is truly an institution of British Isle cheese,” says Gurdal.
He didn't just work in the shop, but also at the maturing facility, also visiting numerous dairies to learn about cheese from beginning to end. At Formaggio Kitchen, Gurdal started working in the kitchen, grilling for their sidewalk BBQ, and managing their caves. Eventually, he became the cheese buyer and was promoted to the store's general manager.
Gurdal spent time researching and learning from family cheese farms throughout Europe, where he found high-quality products ready for import and which he includes in his selections today: “All of those opportunities opened up experiences for me to travel and meet such amazing producers and actually see first hand the food culture of the area, how a cheese was made and who was behind it. It’s an amazing feeling introducing someone to something they’ve never had before, while also supporting traditions and amazing producers.”
After his training in Europe and working with his family business for a decade, Gurdal set his goal to open a neighborhood specialty cheese shop in Santa Monica that would be reminiscent of his parents' cheese shop. He had attended UC Irvine for his undergrad and missed the lifestyle of sunny California.
To get the lay of the land, Gurdal’s journey to establish his particular cheesemonger expertise in Los Angeles included working with numerous local chefs and collaborating with other cheesemongers. Gurdal says his passion for food inspires him to constantly seek new food producers for various delicacies and accouterments—and to share this ever-expanding knowledge with his clientele. “Really, it’s the pure and simple, yet also the nuanced and complex, foods we all love to share and enjoy.”
Over the past three years, Gurdal has attracted a local following of an enthusiastic clientele who hire him for private parties, tastings and pairings, cheese and charcuterie boards — as well as grazing tables for weddings and special events. His cheese and charcuterie aesthetic presentations are often praised as being as beautiful as a painting, filled with the best of European-style cheesevaried accouterments, and served with bread or crackers. Gurdal works with a handful of partners who provide the wine, spirits, and beer selections — with labels from some of the finest vineyards, distilleries, and breweries.
Guided Pairings and Classes
“These pairings add an amazing experience to an event or private party and will have your guests talking about it for weeks to come,” says Gurdal. Those who want to provide an exclusive event aimed at cheese and food connoisseurs can contact Kurt & Whey about providing guided cheese pairing or cheese history classes. Gurdal can provide insight into the right pairings with cheese whether it's paired with beer, wine, or even desserts like chocolate. His cheese education classes give insight into how cheese is crafted, where his products originate, and some of the stories behind their creation.
Grazing Tables for Parties and Events
A showstopper for any private party or event, appealing to both the eyes and stomach, Gurdal curates a lush artistic arrangement of cheeses, charcuterie, bread, spreads, nuts, pickles, vegetables, and seasonal fruit, displayed in a complex array across a long table. It will be the talk of any great party.
Lux & Charcuterie Baskets for Outdoor Events & Hollywood Bowl
In June, Gurdal launched a new service of pre-ordered lux cheese and charcuterie baskets for concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The curated selections are built around artisanal cheese and charcuterie and are paired with wine, spirits, and/ or beer that compliment the flavors and aromas of the cheese. These specialty lux baskets are perfect for adventurous palettes—adding a unique culinary element to your summer night at the Bowl—or any outdoor special event or venue requiring that extra touch to an outdoor picnic. The pairings can accommodate two to six people—or more is possible with a special order arranged with Gurdal.
For Hollywood Bowl patrons: Kurt & Whey is offering pre-order lux baskets for concert-goers to enjoy at the Bowl. Call 310-592-4196 to order or for details. You may also email Kurt Gurdal at [email protected] for a private consultation about your basket or an event.
Canyon Grocer from Kurt & Whey will open Saturday, September 3rd at 169 W. Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402.
About Kurt & Whey - Kurt & Whey is a cheese curator, offering a variety of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie baskets, boards, and grazing tables. It provides services for dinners, private events, parties, and weddings.Owner Kurt Gurdal is a second-generation cheesemonger with international success that displays his passion for food in all his work. Gurdal can also offer personalized attention with his guided pairings and cheese courses where he pairs various cheeses with many wines, beer, spirits as well as other foods to create the perfect combination that stimulates all the senses. His knowledge of food and cheese history will keep you and your guests fascinated as you sample his offerings. Additionally, Gurdal is opening a small bricks and mortar pop-up grocer September 2022 in Santa Monica Canyon, offering specialty & artisanal products.
For more information, visit kurtandwhey.com