Street Cheese was founded by Tailor Kowis and Courtney Johnson. We are career cheesemongers, producer advocates, and firm believers in the importance of the small family farm.
Co-Founder & Creative Director
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 at PCC Community Markets, building dozens of cheese platters and grazing tables for happy customers, training countless baby cheesemongers, as well as opening the cheese counter at the Burien PCC Community Market alongside Courtney in 2017. She is now the Cheese Specialist at the West Seattle PCC, but she can’t wait until Street Cheese becomes her full-time gig.
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.
Courtney C. Johnson
Co-Founder & Education Director
Courtney stumbled into a cheese career while finishing her PhD in German at UC Berkeley. A dual citizen of Germany and the US, Courtney had gone the academic route because one of her undergrad professors inspired her to teach, and because she’d been taught from a young age that you can’t make a living as a writer. In 2015, she got a job working in the produce department at a high-end grocery store in Seattle—the only business to interview her during a months-long search for a job that would allow her to stay in Seattle to finish her dissertation.
During her time in produce, Courtney got to know the store’s cheesemonger, Irene, who was one of the coolest ladies ever, with the most interesting job. Irene explained that cheese was a vast field with endless things to learn, that there were lots of cool educational opportunities, that you could become certified in cheese, and that there was even something called The Cheesemonger Invitational, a cheesemonger Olympics, to compete in. After hearing all this and watching how Irene interacted with customers—equal parts an encyclopedia of global cheese knowledge, a recipe advisor, and a community therapist—Courtney saw a career that felt more tangibly meaningful than the one her academic training intended for her (i.e., a tenure-track position teaching straight-A students at an Ivy League school), so she convinced Irene to let her apprentice as a baby cheesemonger.
Since then, Courtney has found a way to use her academic training to educate folks about all things cheese. She loves how there is so much to study about this one type of food, and how each new thing learned opens the door to so much more knowledge waiting to be discovered. She became a Certified Cheese Professional and a Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator. She has competed in The Cheesemonger Invitational three times, winning second place in 2020 and 2022, before going on to win first place in The Cheesemonger Invitational: Masters in 2023. In 2023 she competed in Le Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager in Tours, France, where she placed 7th in the world.
In addition to teaching through Street Cheese, Courtney teaches fermentation theory in the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College. She has taught at The Pantry, Book Larder, Theo Chocolate, and PCC Cooks. She also serves as Executive Director of the non-profit Washington State Cheesemakers Association. Courtney works as a producer advocate toward a world in which average folks want to know where their food comes from and how it was made, appreciate the hard work of farmers and artisan food producers, and do not have to live in exclusive zip codes to have access to high-quality food (especially cheese).
Courtney fills her spare time with baking, gardening, making mixed-media crafts, writing, and tackling big projects around her house and yard. She enjoys playing with her dogs, Stella, Odin, and Luna, and watching cooking shows with her husband, Joe.