Sue Conley, Co-Founder of Cowgirl Creamery.
Food and community have followed Sue Conley just about everywhere. She found herself fronting the house of a local campus joint during her time at University of Tennessee. When she moved to San Francisco in 1976, she made her way into the kitchen and that’s where she met Bette, the namesake of their joint business venture, Bette’s Oceanview Diner. After 11 remarkable years of serving delicious everyday meals to an eclectic mix of Berkeley students, workers and neighbors, she sought a quieter pace, migrating to Point Reyes Station with longtime companion and ex-park ranger, Nan Haynes.
It was here that Sue met Ellen Straus, matriarch of the Straus Family Creamery, her husband Bill, and their kids Albert and Vivien. Inspired by the Strauses, Sue decided to sell her shares in Bette’s Diner and find herself a place in West Marin’s growing dairy and organic farm community. Having shared interests and kitchens throughout the years, Sue’s dear friend Peggy decided to join in these efforts. They’ve been making friends and cheese ever since.
Peggy Smith, Co-Founder of Cowgirl Creamery
Peggy knows her way around a kitchen. She started her culinary career serving hearty suppers to food and folk music lovers at Gallagher’s in Washington, DC. Her move to San Francisco in 1976 coincided with the food revolution begun by Alice Waters. In 1980, she was hired to cook at Chez Panisse’s new upstairs Café. For the next 17 years, Peggy worked the stove, preparing dishes made from vegetables just out of the garden, fruit right off the branch, and fish straight out of the sea.
Over the years, Peggy learned the philosophies the family used in selecting and caring for artisanal cheeses. Then the folks from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London brought fine English farmhouse cheeses for the chefs to taste, and Peggy was hooked. When Sue asked her to consider starting a cheese company in Point Reyes, she agreed.
The UT Culinary Institute is housed in the Department of Retail, Hospitality & Tourism Management. Under the directorship of Dr. Ann Fairhurst, Department Head of RHTM, the Culinary Institute offers community culinary classes. These are hands on skills based cooking classes with housemade recipes from professional chefs. In addition, the Culinary Institute partners with Pellissippi State Community College to teach the culinary arts classes for the Associate of Applied Science degree.