Who We Are

Tailor Kowis, the second half of Street Cheese, started her journey in the food and cheese industry nearly 10 years ago. Her combined passion for enjoying beautiful, artisanal food and bringing folks together in the name of all things delicious was what kept her pursuing this career.

Tailor got her start at a locally owned specialty market, where she met her now-partner in cheese, Courtney. Together they spent many hours stretching Mozzarella, learning about cheese, and daydreaming about one day owning their own cheese shop, farmstead operation, and venue space. Well, at least one of those dreams has come true with Street Cheese.

Tailor’s vision for Street Cheese is to ensure that well-made cheese and sustainably sourced food are more accessible to people of all backgrounds and economic statuses. Her goal is that by bringing the food to you and your neighborhood, and telling the story of the food, Street Cheese will encourage you to support our local and small farms and cheesemakers.

Tailor wants to force you to think outside the flavor box and get a little weird sometimes. Her hope is that we come to you as strangers and leave as friends you can trust to provide you with delectable food as well as a delicious experience.

Tailor has had several cheesy achievements throughout the years, including participating in the Cheesemonger Invitational in San Francisco in 2019, teaching a Parmigiano Reggiano cracking class, building dozens of cheese platters and grazing tables for happy customers, training countless baby cheesemongers, as well as running the cheese counter at the Burien PCC Community Market alongside Courtney for the past three years.

Tailor is currently studying to take the American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional Exam, which she hopes to complete in August 2021. The venture of becoming a new business owner has not been a small one, but Tailor has a great support system and many wonderful ideas for this exciting new challenge!

When Tailor is not slinging cheese at her day job or running Street Cheese, you can most likely find her outside. As a PNW native, Tailor loves taking advantage of any sunny day she can get. She enjoys taking her kayak out, paddle boarding, hiking, and exploring new walking routes in her neighborhood. When she can’t be outside, you can find her at the climbing gym, spending time with friends and family, or cooking up a new gluten-free recipe while listening to a true crime podcast with her two cats in tow.

Courtney Johnson, the first half of Street Cheese, happened upon a career in cheese while she was writing her doctoral dissertation. Prior to working in retail, Courtney spent a decade in college on an academic career track. In 2008, she graduated summa cum laude from The University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a Bachelor’s in Journalism, both with honors. Courtney, who has dual citizenship in the US and Germany, decided she wanted to become a German professor so she could spend time in both countries and teach students the joys of literature and film. She went on to receive a Master’s in German Studies in 2010 from the UA before moving to Berkeley, California.

Courtney did not apply to the University of California at Berkeley because she knew the German program there was No. 1 in the country. No, she applied after watching an episode of Rachael Ray in which Rachael and her husband spent a weekend in the Bay Area eating at Cheeseboard Pizza and other mainstay Berkeley restaurants. Luckily for Courtney, the German Department at Berkeley accepted her! She spent the next four years feasting at Bay-Area restaurants and using delectable finds from Berkeley’s markets and CSAs to hone her chops as a home cook and baker—all while working on a PhD in German with a Designated Emphasis in Film & Media.

When it was time to write her dissertation, Courtney followed her then-boyfriend to Seattle, where she got a produce clerk job at a local specialty grocer. She befriended the store’s cheesemonger and convinced her to let Courtney become her apprentice. She worked hard to become the nerdiest curd nerd in town, absorbing every bit of cheese knowledge she came across like a cheesy sponge.  

Courtney graduated with her doctorate in 2016. She now enjoys using her academic credentials to educate the public about all things cheese. She loves how much there is to study about this one type of food! Courtney looks forward to a world in which average folks want to know where their food comes from, appreciate the hard work of farmers and producers, and do not have to live in exclusive neighborhoods to access high-quality foods. She hopes Street Cheese can help facilitate that change.

Courtney is an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. She competed twice in the Cheesemonger Invitational in San Francisco, winning second place in 2020. She has attended the Cheese School of San Francisco’s Master Class, as well as various seminars and educational events. She is currently studying to take the American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator exam and is preparing to become a Certified Cicerone.

When she is not working behind the counter at her day job, Courtney serves as Executive Director of the Washington State Cheesemakers Association. She writes The PhCheese blog, and she has taught classes with Theo Chocolate and the PCC Cooks program. Because she cannot sit still, Courtney fills her spare time cooking, baking, gardening, making mixed-media crafts, writing, and tackling big projects around her house and yard. She can also be found playing with her dogs, Stella and Odin, or watching food documentaries with her husband, Joe.