Cheese guru Gustav Ericson leaving Honest Weight

gustav ericson cheese counter honest weight

Next month, when the Honest Weight Food Co-op opens its new store on Watervliet Avenue in Albany, a mainstay will be missing.

Gustav Ericson, Capital Region rock star of cheese, won't be making the leap to Honest Weight's new building.

Yes, we said the rock star of cheese.

Ericson has presided over the cheese counter at Honest Weight for the last 12 years, listening to stories, doling out samples, and educating volunteers and customers. And in that time he's developed a passionate band of fans for a guy who sells cheese.

Ericson began his career as a chef, working at several Capital Region restaurants before settling into an 11-year stint as the chef and pastry chef at Sperry's in Saratoga. When he needed a change, it was a passion for people that drew him out of the kitchen and into retail. A friend offered him a job at the former DeLeah's specialty store. Later he opened his own shop on Lark Street, and finally, twelve years ago, he landed at the cheese counter at Honest Weight.

"It was 12 great years," Ericson says. "Cheese has been very, very good to me," he laughs.

He threw himself into retail with the same gusto he had in the kitchen. "When I was cooking, I was trying to make things sizzle. Everything had a little sizzle or extra je ne sais quois, and that's what I tried to do in the retail world."

Ericson says he's never been driven by the dollar. "I like the finer things in life," he says, "but if you find joy in what you do the dollars will come."

What's so interesting about cheese? Other than the fact that its -- you know -- delicious?

"When you look in that cheese case and you see 300 cheeses," Ericson says, " they are all made from the same basic five ingredients. But different cultures, different parts of the world take those five ingredients and make that huge array. That's what is fascinating to me. Those five ingredients can be transformed into both a triple creme Kunick and a Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's like art in that sense ... It's people making the most of those ingredients. It's man's ingenuity. And it started out being just a way of preserving milk."

(By the way: Parmigiano-Reggiano is his favorite cheese -- the only one he keeps in his fridge all the time.)

So yes, Gustav Ericson loves cheese. But as knowledgable as he is , it's his love of people and their stories that helped make him so popular at the co-op. Mention his name to a local foodie and you'll get a great story about some new flavor Gustav shared with them on a visit. Ericson says it's the customers and volunteers he'll miss when he finishes up at the co-op this week.

"I've actually seen people meet at the cheese counter, get married, have children and bring their children to me for their first bite of mild sheep's milk cheese."

He recalls things like making platters for a woman who had just been released from the hospital and wanted gifts for the nursing staff. "She wanted a different platter for each shift of nurses," he says. "She described people to me and we made each group different platters."

Ericson says there's no rift between him and the co-op, it's just time for a change. "I applaud the co-op for taking on such a large enterprise," he says, "I understand growth, but there are different types of growth. And me -- a small and more intimate kind of European venue is more my style."

"The co-op has been really perfect for me because I have wonderful member workers and I've been blessed with a wonderful staff and allowed to be creative with the department. And my customers -- they have kept me there longer than I would have stayed otherwise."

He says he's honored to have had a part in introducing so many people to new specialty foods, but that the co-op's impending move just happened to dovetail with a more internal shift he was experiencing. "It was time for a change. But I'm giving myself time to decide what comes next."

His immediate plans include learning Italian for an upcoming trip to Venice, working in his garden and getting involved in voiceover work (he's got a great voice).

"I've gotten a lot of offers in the food world since word has leaked out that I'm leaving the co-op," Ericson says, "but I can't think that food is the only thing that I can do at this point. I know I'm capable of accomplishing something else and making it sizzle in my allotted time."

Yep, Honest Weight advertises on AOA.

Comments

Thank you Gustav for so many wonderful tastes - certainly cheese but also quince paste, gigante beans, aged balsamic vinegar you'd serve on ice cream, and grilled artichokes. And especially thank you for the cheese love you heaped on our daughter Nora!

:(

I have never met anyone in retail who was so; knowledgeable,generous and above all KIND.
Thank you, Gustav, I, among many, will miss
you so.

Gustav certainly knows his cheese, but it is his incredible memory that always amazed my husband and me....we had been customers at DeLeah's and years, and by that I mean at least 6years,
later we met up again at Honest Weight and he remembered that my husband did not like any cheese that was "goaty", now that is a real asset in a retailer....we wish him luck in whatever venture he chooses, but he will be missed...

Besides my employer, Gustav was the first person I met when I moved to Albany and he's been a wonderful and wise friend ever since. I'm excited to learn where he lands next!!!

Thank you Gustav!!!

Best wishes Gustav!!

So happy we stopped by this afternoon to wish Gustav best wishes on his new venture. He is so talented and whatever he decides to do will be wonderful.
We wish you all the best and look forward to following you for years to come. Enjoy!
You will be missed.

Lynne & Denny

We will miss Gustav at Honest Weight! One of the finest people I've ever met in retail. He is a true gem! Best of luck wherever your dreams take you, Gustav! You are sure to be successful, because you have all the admirable qualities needed to succeed in any endeavor!

We expect alloveralbany to inform us when he settled into his next place of employment. We await being delighted customers of Gustav's again.

Gustav is amazing. Getting cheese is my favorite part of my Coop experience. He has turned me on to new and wonderful tastes.
He will be missed!
Good luck Gustav!

Gustav has shaped the palette of my older two children, who at 6 and 9 enjoy a good stinky cheese far more than I do. He is a beloved part of Honest Weight, which will feel emptier to me without him.

Gustav, you will be missed. All the best in your new adventures, and thank you so much for sharing your kindness, knowledge, and enthusiasm with everyone who came to your counter.

love and appreciation follow you...

I will miss the incredible laughs at the Co-op with my friend, but that means there are many more to come. xoxoxo

There is nothing like shopping at a favorite store and seeing a familiar face--that is to say: one that looks like family. Gustav gave us that, in addition to all his recommendations and enthusiasm for cheese and food, and for life generally. Whatever comes next for our friend, it is a new beginning for him and us rather than an end. We look forward to seeing him wherever he lands, on his feet and sunny side up.

Phillip and Anne

It won't be the same without you Gustav. Grazie per averci fatto scoprire i migliori formaggi o riscoprire i sapori di casa! Mi fai sempre sentire "a casa" Gustav! e adesso che vai a Venezia, non dimenticare di passare x Padova, la mia citta'!!! Buona fortuna nella tua nuova avventura;)

Gustav,
We will miss your smiling face and hearty "hello's". Stay in touch, be good and travel on, life is an adventure!! Eat well every day.

Paul & Caroline

We enjoyed your wonderful service at the coop cheese section and will miss you!

All Best Wishes in the Garden, and your next endeavor,

Jeff and Sally

Gustav has made our HWFC experience the best every time ... and he remembers who likes what cheese ... always a gentleman, too. We hope to see you soon, Gustav.
Peace,
Susan & Hannah W.

Oh Gustuv!

Wishing you delights and deliciousness every day!

NAMASTE

Roberta

Anyone know where Gustav is today (August 2016)?

Hi Tommy, I just saw Gustav at the Troy Farmers Market last weekend. He told me that he's working at the Placid Baker in Troy these days.

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