Cheese – A Chef’s Perspective

From our many blog posts on this topic, you may have noticed that we at the Dairy Council love cheese! We love the flavor, texture, nutrition, and well…. just everything. We felt we were not alone in our love of cheese and wanted to get a Chef’s perspective so we met up with Tyler Ehlert who is the head chef and culinary creative mind at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden Utah. Tyler has transformed “hospital food” into tasty dishes that patients, staff, and vistors enjoy. From the bistro to the cafe, the food is delicious!

McKay Dee Hospital

McKay Dee Hospital – Ogden, UT


Tyler is a fellow cheese lover and likes to use Beehive Cheese which is one of our award winning cheese makers in the state and located just down the road from McKay Dee Hospital. He was kind enough to do a Q&A session with us and provide some amazing recipes highlighting cheese!

1. How long have you been a chef? I started down this path 24 years ago.

2. What made you decide this career path? My mother is a classically trained chef. I also grew up with an extended family of wonder home style cooks.

3. What do you like most about working at the hospital? I love the challenge of working with patients that can’t have all the fat and sodium that is normally associated with a good tasting meal.

4. Do you cook a lot at home? Yes…I love to cook, no matter where I am. Luckily, my wife is a wonderful cook as well.

5. What do you like about cheese? Good cheese (not cheese paste☺) has such wonderful versatility. It can add gorgeous texture to sauce or soup, or much needed flavor to your salad.

6. Do you prefer it melted or solid, why? This depends on the recipe…but if you really want to taste what great cheese has to offer…eat it solid. From there you can figure out what to do with it.

7. What is your favorite way to utilize cheese. I like to keep it simple. I love to pair great cheese with fresh grapes, flat bread and some nice dark chocolate. Our bistro customers seem to love it as well.

8. When you are trying to decide to use cheese in a recipe what do you consider? Texture and sharpness of flavor are very important. Some classic pairs are a good parmesan with prosciutto and strawberries or a ripe pear and Manchego melted over a grilled portabello.

9. If you had extra cheese how would you decide what to do with it? At home…this never happens. All extra cheese is eaten…quickly…usually with some fresh fruit. At work…we will take the end cuts of a locally sourced Promontory, shred it and add it to our gourmet grilled cheese sandwich served at our Bistro.

10. When do you think expensive, artisan cheeses are worth the money to use in recipes? I believe you get what you pay for. You can use less cheese if the flavor is better. 1 oz of wonderful artisan cheese can go as far flavor wise in your salad as 3 oz of milder, less pricey cheese.

11. How do you highlight the flavor of the cheese with other ingredients? This is where one of our local partners (Beehive Cheese) comes in. If you start with an outstanding cheese, it is easy to highlight. Take Aggiano for example…the recipe for this Utah State University cheese has been shared with Beehive. It has a wonderful citrus (almost pineapple) finish. Cheese that has this much depth of flavor is easy to pair with other ingredients.

12. Do you have a favorite cheese? I love Aggiano and Beehive’s Promontory Cheddar. Manchego is also one of my favorites. My tastes have changed over the years…like many of us, I grew up eating cheddar singles…I can’t even look at them anymore. I buy great cheese for home and work…and I will never go back!

13. What cheese do you use the most? At work: we use a lot of cheddar and mozzarella. At home: I’m all about Promontory, Feta, Parmesan and sharp cheddar.

14. What cheese is in your fridge at home? I have sharp cheddar and string cheese for the kids’ snacks, Aggiano and Promontory from Beehive, and some great parmesan and feta for cooking.

 Tyler’s Recipes

Potato and cheese gratin

Gratin Dauphinois

2 lbs red potatoes sliced thin
½ clove garlic
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 pinch pepper
1 cup shredded promontory cheese
1 cup boiling milk

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine milk with garlic, butter, salt and pepper. Place potatoes in a baking dish. Pour milk mixture over potatoes. Cover with tin foil and allow to bake until potatoes are tender (approximately 45 min). Take off tin foil and evenly spread cheese. Place back in oven to finish. Cheese should melt and lightly brown.

Bistro Gourmet Italian Sandwich

gourmet italian sand.

2 oz. capicola ham, sliced thin
1 oz. hard salami, sliced thin
2 oz. fresh mozzarella sliced
3 slices fresh roma tomato
½ oz. fresh spinach
1 tsp olive oil
1 pinch cracked black pepper
6” soft baguette

Slice baguette in half and layer spinach on bottom half. Continue to layer with tomato, meats and cheese. Lightly drizzle oil and sprinkle with pepper. Serve ASAP.

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