"Big Cheese" Jason Sobocinski
Credit: Mike Toth
Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.
Jason Sobocinski believes every cheese has a story to tell. And if the one he told me is any indication, there's a lot more drama in the world of cheese than one might imagine. His 30-second lesson on the history of Roquefort, for example,includes intrigue, a workplace romance and a cheese-related royal temper tantrum that ends in a beheading.
As the owner of a cheese shop called Caseus Fromagerie Bistro in New Haven, Conn., Sobocinski's job is to make cheese exciting. And he's pretty darn good at it.
So good, in fact, that he now has his own TV show called "The Big Cheese" on the Cooking Channel. He's also written a cookbook.
Without a doubt, Sobocinski loves his job. But, ironically, he didn't grow up thinking he'd end up espousing the virtues of cheese for a living. Instead, he thought he'd be a builder, like his grandfather.
Sobocinski explains how he ended up finding the career he loves and offers his advice on how you can do the same.
BusinessNewsDaily: How did you end up doing this for a living?
Jason Sobocinski: I never really wanted to get into food as a career path. I knew that I loved food and cooking. It is and always has been a pure joy for me to cook and to feed people. I love when people enjoy something I’ve made for them or introduce them to a new food. But my thought was that if I did this as a career, it would take away from the love I had for it.
After a few failed attempts in the corporate business world, I gave in and started working at a small gourmet catering company in New Haven called Chestnut Fine Foods. I spent a few years with them before making my way up to Boston to attend BU [Boston University] to pursue a master's degree in gastronomy, the study of food and culture. While living in Boston, I also worked full-time at an amazing cheese shop called Formaggio Kitchen and really began to love the story that came with every cheese I sold. I loved cooking with the cheeses and doing everything that I could to figure out ways to make this expensive gourmand ingredient more accessible and easy for customers to understand and appreciate.
After I finished my degree, I moved back home to New Haven and opened up Caseus. Latin for cheese, our credo is “every cheese has a story” and I love every day of it.
BND: What crucial decision led you to this place in life?
J.S.: I couldn’t really afford to live in Boston much longer. Expensive town! And I love New Haven, so I knew that I wanted to move back to my hometown. But there was no place like Formaggio for me to work at. So I opened up my own. I was 29 years old when we opened up, living at my parents' house in my old room with my fiancé and our two cats. Money was tight and I worked 18-hour days [be]cause I could not fail. I put everything I had into Caseus and I still do today.
It’s not easy to do what you love. People will tell you that if you love your job you’ll never feel like you’re working. Well, I’m not sure about that! But I love working, I love telling people about what we do, I love my employees and everyone that has helped me make my job/business what it is today. But don’t be fooled — it's hard work!
BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?
J.S.: When I graduated preschool, I wanted to be a builder. My grandfather was a house builder and my dad built our house, so it was always something I loved. I built my business, the booths, the tables, the bar. I had help. But I built it and loved every minute of it.
BND: Why do you love your job?
J.S.: I love my job because it truly is the best job in the world. I get to feed people great food while teaching them about what they’re eating and entertaining them all at the same time. What more could anyone want?
BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?
J.S.: That it's easy. Everyone eats, so everyone thinks they can run a restaurant. I’m not saying they can’t. I just don’t know if they’d want to. It's a ton of hours and now that I have a kid, sometimes I wish I were home more often to see him. Luckily, he comes by to visit me before bed.
BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have and why?
J.S.: This is a tough one and I’ll have to keep it appropriate, of course … supermodel photographer? Travel guide writer? BMW test car driver? Beer brew master! Teacher! Coach!
BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to find a job they love?
J.S.: Don’t even think for one minute about if you can do it, if you’ll make enough money, if it’s right for you. Just have the courage to go out and do it. I didn’t ask myself any of the above questions, and if I had, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am now.