Brooks & Ali Cameron
My wife and I started our journey together in early 2014 as a chef and cheesemonger whose paths crossed in Dallas, Texas. Several states, a marriage, a baby, and 4 years later finds us here in Fayetteville, Arkansas – my home town. We are both a product of our passions which happen to collide in a wonderful way. I grew up in northwest Arkansas and have always felt a tie to the mountains. My passion for unique ingredients, butchery and farm focused cuisine has led me back to my roots where I can be a part of the Ozark food community.
After attending the CIA in upstate New York, I have spent the past decade in various culinary roles and environments, from New York to Texas. In 2016 we moved to North Carolina to experience a different part of the South. It was an opportunity for us to work in a more agriculturally focused region and allow Ali to apprentice with a nationally recognized creamery.
I have worked in a variety of cuisines as well as “chef driven” restaurants; the kind of places that lack a cuisine, but have their own style. I like to focus on preservation and building a good larder through pickling, fermentation and charcuterie. A lot of times these are used to accent fresh ingredients and preparations, yet at the same time, allowing the simplicity of an ingredient to shine through. In my previous roles I have spent time developing relationships with farmers and producers while sourcing ingredients that supported the communities I’ve resided within. This not only opened up many opportunities to look into the detailed nature of the production side of our world, but gave me a deeper appreciation of the hard work that goes into creating a unique and delicious ingredient.
Ali has been working in the cheese world since 2010 when she got her first cheese-related job at Scardello Artisan Cheese in Highland Park. Since that day she has worked in cheese retail, wholesale, distribution, and most recently, a year and a half in North Carolina apprenticing as a cheesemaker for two different nationally recognized creameries. In 2013, she studied and passed her cheese certification test for the American Cheese Society, at which point, there were only a few hundred certified across the United States. Having worked many different sides of the cheese world, she is extremely happy to be working for Ozark Natural Foods where she can share her love and passion for artisan cheese with the public. Having taught many cheese and beverage pairing classes along the way, she knew that she had a particular fondness for beer, wine, and spirits – and more importantly, teaming up with other artisans who have an appreciation for the craft world.
Candied Mustard Seeds
This takes time, but I like to call it passive prep since you don’t need to watch it the whole time. You can do equal parts brown and yellow mustard seed if you looking for a little more of a kick. When you buy vinegar make sure you get one that’s at least 5% – 6% acidity. There are a lot of cheap vinegars out there that are only 3%-4%. Trust me I’ve made the mistake of using them for larger batches of pickles before and the end product is still good, just a little lackluster.
The added benefits of this preparation are you get a mustard infused cider vinegar that’s awesome is soups and braising greens, as well as mustard simple syrup that can really shine in a cocktail. More on that another time.
Prep time 3 hrs.
- 1 cu yellow mustard seeds
- 4 cu apple cider vinegar
- 2 cu water
- 1lb or 2cu sugar
- 2 qt sauce pot
- 1 qt mason jar
- Fine strainer
- Measuring cups
- Boil vinegar
- Pour vinegar over seeds in a mason jar.
- Let steep for one hour. The mustard seeds will hydrate over this time.
- Strain mustard seeds and reserve vinegar.
- Bring water to boil and whisk in sugar to create simple syrup.
- Add mustard seeds to simple syrup and reduce to a very slow simmer.
- Cook for 2 hrs or until seeds are tender.
- Stain syrup off of seeds, and reserve on the side.
- Add seeds back to mason jar, top off with a little bit of the syrup.