by Kaylee Hultgren | August 20, 2008

Richard Peterson 
“My goal is to make the cheese program accessible, not snobby, and enjoyable for all.”

Richard Peterson, a self-taught guru of artisanal cheeses, is the resident maître fromager, or cheese master, at the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. He has been featured on CNN and HGTV, and his work has set the standard for Gaylord’s foray into artisanal cheese presentation.

How did you get into cheese? It started when I decided to get more serious about my career. The obvious path was through wine, to become a sommelier, but then I had a classic tableside experience with cheese that really impressed me. So I began to self-study and tasted as much as I could. Then Gaylord launched a cheese program. Right away I began to campaign for myself as the right guy for the job.

How do you spend your day? Cheese is a living, breathing creature that needs a lot of TLC, so monitoring the cheeses takes up a lot of my time. Also, I have two beautiful cheese trolleys to set up.

What is your biggest challenge? We are a huge hotel, so the size of the facility alone is a challenge. And we service a very diverse group of clients. My goal is to make the cheese program accessible, not snobby, and enjoyable for all of them.

What’s next? We’re going to custom-build our own cheese caves, so I’ll be able to do my own aging. This year I got the level-one sommelier certification, so I’ll want to continue with that. And I hope to get to Europe soon.