Without Daphne Zepos, one could argue, there would be no artisanal cheese movement in the United States. An eloquent educator and writer about cheese, she helped Terrance Brennan start Artisanal, the cheese cellar in New York City that expanded into a mini-chain of restaurants (including a short-lived venture at The Bravern in Bellevue). She later moved to San Francisco and founded The Cheese School.
Zepos died Tuesday of lung cancer; she was 52.
The news came as a shock, but not a surprise; Zepos took ill earlier this year, about the time she was honored with the American Cheese Society's Lifetime Achievement Award. Andrew Weinzweig, founder of the gourmet chain Zingerman's, said, "Today, thanks in part to Daphne's leadership and teaching and training, a far bigger slice of the American populace understands what artisan cheese is, and can be."
The food writer Corby Kummer said, "She wanted people to support small makers of cheese and to understand all the work and the love that went into it."
In Seattle, Theresa Simpson of The Cheese Cellar says of Zepos, simply, "She changed the world."