Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Decor and Staging complements of The White House Co.
Meet Megan Lewis of Milk Made Catering
Only the granddaughter of a China painter and a master carpenter and the daughter of a quilter could be able to turn the basic food staple of cheese into a work of art…and do it as a career.
Enter Megan Lewis, owner of Milk Made Catering, a cheese-centric catering company that focuses on bringing the best out in cheese. Hitting two years of business in May, Lewis has been taking on the Fargo food scene with her picturesque catering spreads.
With high-end charcuterie, seasonal fruits and veggies, Lewis creates cheese-based platters that are almost too beautiful to eat. All elements are designed to complement each other in taste, but also in color, texture and shape. From hosting cheesemaking classes to selling mini platters to catering weddings and corporate events, her goal is to help everyone find a way that they can appreciate cheese.
Lewis had always dreamed of becoming a food stylist. When she went to culinary school, she had plans of moving to New York or Chicago upon graduation to pursue a shiny career in this field. However, she met her husband along the way and together they settled in Fargo instead.
Here in Fargo, Lewis worked at a cheese counter. After working with cheese on a daily basis, she fell in love with the product. “I loved the stories, I loved that there was so much to learn. There are so many nuances about it, I just fell into this huge, awesome black hole that is the world of cheese,” shared Lewis.
As she made her first platter, she saw her love of food styling and her love of cheese come together. She reminisced, “It was like the first time it clicked for me that I felt like I could do this for the rest of my life. Every single aspect of it, from the color profile to the story to the product, I loved everything about it. I had a passion for all of it.”
Beyond the flavor nuances, Lewis found a love for the history and personality of cheese. “As a cheesemonger, I think the most important thing to understand is that most of our job is to be a storyteller. It’s my job to take this product that somebody spent a lot of time and put a lot of love and energy into creating and to sell it to you as the consumer,” said Lewis.
Lewis places great importance on her role as a storyteller. She said, “I’m the front line of helping cheesemakers’ products be sold and be romanced and to be made look beautiful. When I started this business it was important to me have a lot really awesome relationships with cheesemakers. I’m going to be selling their product, so I should be able to tell their story.” Because of this, most of Lewis’ inventory is local and she knows the makers of a lot of the elements she puts on her platters. She added, “If we don’t support artisan’s foods, who’s going to?”
‘Tis the Season
Summer offers great opportunities for entertaining, and what’s a summer get-together without a gorgeous spread of food? Lewis offered advice on what goes into a perfect platter:
“I think the first thing to think about when you’re putting together a platter is to think about the type and the style of cheeses you’re going to pick. What I mean by that is making sure you include different milk types. Having a goat cheese or a sheep’s milk cheese can really texturally and colorfully make a difference. Also, include harder cheeses like a Gouda or a cheddar. This variety makes sure there are different styles so guests can pick and choose what they like.”
She emphasized the importance of getting products in-season so that you’ll have the freshest, most vibrant fruits. The colors and the flavors will lend themselves to a much more appealing payoff. She also suggested that your platter offers some surprises for your guests, “I think it’s really fun to put some things that people don’t expect. I love pairing chocolate with cheese because cheese can turn dessert really fast […] Sometimes thinking outside the box is fun. Platters don’t have to just be fig jam and grapes.”
The Joy of Cheese
Megan’s smile and energy are contagious. It’s only appropriate that her business revolves around a product that is so beloved. She said, “It’s so funny to me just how much cheese brings people sincere joy. I recently did a big event and I saw people’s faces light up from across the room when they realized there was my huge cheese display there. It makes people so happy and I just love that.”
Milk Made has succeeded in part thanks to people’s genuine enjoyment around all things cheese, but also partially thanks to her own contagious spirit and passion for what she does. Even someone indifferent to cheese could leave a conversation with Lewis suddenly impassioned about the product. With Lewis at the helm, it’s safe to predict that Fargo will be enjoying unique cheeses in beautiful arrangements for years to come.
Included in this pictured Milk Made summer spread is: Jeff’s Select Gouda from Minnesota, a St Pete’s Select Blue Cheese from Fairville, Minn., a Merlot BellaVitano from Wisconsin, a four pepper chevre from Wisconsin, a Shelburne cheddar from Vermont and charcuterie from Iowa and Red Table Meats from Minneapolis. Alongside the cheese and charcuterie are ground mustard seeds, limoncello almonds, lemon poppy seed chocolate and seasonal fruits like pomegranate, pear, prune, blood orange, dried pineapple, watermelon radish, blueberries and grapes.