The TC Ticker talked with Sue about the history of Boss Mouse Cheese and her longtime love of farmers markets:
Sue Kurta’s been a fixture at the Traverse City market and others nearby for more than a decade, selling her famous smoked butter, cheese curds and other handcrafted dairy delights under the Boss Mouse Cheese banner. Working from an 1867-era farm in Kingsley, Kurta’s journey to Paradise Township started at a cheesemaking class in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
…After finding work in Traverse City, she started setting up a cheese barn at home “just with the intention of selling at the farmer’s markets,” she says. “I didn’t know it was going to be what I did for a living – but two years into Boss Mouse I was making the same money I was making in my day job, so I quit the day job and Boss Mouse has just gone up ever since.”
That heartbeat extends into the relationships that develop between vendors. “It’s like a circus that comes to town. You pull in early, set it all up, sell stuff for four hours and then it’s gone. I think there’s a camaraderie in doing that kind of work and how diehard the farmers market people are,” Kurta says. “We all work side by side over the years and we’re all in the same line of work: farmers. There’s a real kinship amongst us.”
The offerings of Boss Mouse have expanded through the years, building up from cheese curds and butter to aged cow’s milk cheeses like cheddar, sweet swiss and an Italian variety called Montasio that’s infused with herbs, spices and (naturally) cherries from time to time. The pace, however, is a bit more consistent for a cheesemaker than it is for farmers at the whims of the season. “Cheesemaking is a year-round product. Our busy season is the farmers market season [and] cheese has to age, so we make it like little elves all winter and then it’s just coming out of the cave ten times faster in summer than it does in winter.”