Perfect match: Two local women find common culinary ground

April 2012


The Bloomy Rind’s Kathleen Cotter is all about cheese. And fortunately for local cheese lovers, she’s made it her business to ensure Nashville has access to delicious, handcrafted cheeses from around the country. Like many entrepreneurs, Cotter’s path wasn’t necessarily a straight one. In fact, the 40-year-old Atlanta native realized her passion for cheese while taking a “sabbatical” to figure out what she wanted to do for a living.  

“I love food, and I knew that what I did next needed to be tied to food,” Cotter says. “During that time, I also learned more about sustainable agriculture and food systems, and I wanted that to be a key part of what I did.”

She narrowed her love for food to two favorites — cheese and chocolate — and initially chose cheese because Nashville chocolate company Olive and Sinclair was already in the works.

“I knew it was the right thing because as I was researching and reading about cheese and cheese makers, I was giddy excited,” she says, explaining that she also took cheese making classes, attended cheese conferences and visited cheese farms across the country.

She set up her Bloomy Rind cheese stand at local farmers’ markets about two years ago, quickly establishing herself as the cheese purveyor for several local restaurants. In November, she opened a cheese counter in the new Porter Road Butcher shop in East Nashville. Though she might like to have her own space someday, she’s working with the Porter Road Butcher guys to determine if East Nashvillians — and their western counterparts —are willing to make an extra stop to pick up specialty foods “made in a humane, healthy and sustainable way for the consumer and the planet.”

In the meantime, she’s glad that soul searching did the trick. “Being a business owner sometimes makes you want to bang your head against the wall,” she says. “But the core of what I do makes me really happy.”


When Lesa Wood and her husband Brad moved into the Crieve Hall neighborhood about five years ago, they couldn’t resist the aroma of fresh coffee coming from a nearby garage. They quickly discovered that their neighbor made a darn good cup of joe, and he did it by roasting his coffee beans at home.

“We just thought it was brilliant,” says 50-year-old Lesa Wood, who, with her husband, now operates Nashville’s craft coffee roaster, Roast, Inc. “I’d always been passionate about finding good coffee, but we’d never thought about roasting our own beans.” 

They purchased a home roaster and were soon roasting green coffee beans on a regular basis. At Christmas, they gave bags of their carefully selected and roasted beans to friends, who insisted the Woods turn this new hobby into a business. In 2009, they did just that, launching a Saturday morning home delivery service. They also began selling their beans at area farmers’ markets, and as demand grew, they needed a larger roaster — and a larger space.

“People also started saying, ‘There’s nothing here like this, why don’t you open a simple coffee shop,’” Wood explains.

So, in July of 2010, the Woods weren’t just roasters selling beans—they were running a coffee house in a strip mall on Trousdale Drive. Wood runs the shop and handles the bulk of the roasting while her husband buys the beans, keeps the books and works full-time as a sales engineer for a California company. They’re also parents to two daughters, ages 5 and 11.

This November, they added another major accomplishment to the list. “The Whole Foods buyer for the southeast paid us a visit, and I made him a cup of coffee,” Wood explains. “The beans were from Panama, and he’d just returned from a coffee trip there. He said, ‘This is perfect, this is exactly what I had in Panama two or three days ago. You’re in.

“We’re never still,” Wood says. “And we’re a great team.”


We asked Kathleen and Lesa to work together to identify coffee and cheese pairings that, while they may seem unconventional, are pleasing to the palate.

Coffee: Ethiopian from Wakita in the Jimma region, brewed by pour-over method

Favorite pairing: Red Row cow milk cheese from Caromont Farm in Virginia

Notes: The acidity of the coffee cut through the fat of the cheese and resulted in an unexpected sweetness.

Coffee: Wood’s private espresso blend made from three Central and South American beans, made into a latte with whole milk from Hatcher Family Dairy.

Favorite pairing: Green Hill, a double cream, Camembert-style cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy, Georgia.

Notes: “The layers of milkfat are fantastic together,” Wood says.

Coffee: Guatemalan coffee from the Finea de Soledad farm, brewed by Clever, a filtered, full-immersion method.

Favorite pairing: Roelli’s extra sharp, three-year aged cheddar from Wisconsin

Results: Sharpness of cheese balanced by bright acidity of coffee, giving a strong, intense finish. “This is a great pairing for people who seek an explosion of flavor,” Cotter says.


Photographed by: Eric England 


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