The Curd Nerd story: how a microbiologist ditched med school to pursue a career in cheese

Sarah Simiele’s career – and love life -began with cheese.

Cheese helped the cellular microbiologist realize she didn’t want to become a doctor, her original goal as a student at Binghamton University, and it helped her and then-roommate, Matthew, fall in love. Six years after the two graduated, and one wedding later, she and Matthew run The Curd Nerd—a specialty cheese and local produce store.

Already, less than a year since its debut, The Curd Nerd has become an integral part of the Eastwood small business community, and a hit on TikTok, to boot.

Located on the corner of James Street and South Wellington Avenue, The Curd Nerd is home to dozens of regional, national and international cheeses, along with fresh local produce and spreads. For those who can’t handle lactose, there’s a jar full of lactose pills for 25 cents each.

The Curd Nerd began at Binghamton, after Sarah heard that a cheese club was in the works and knew she had to get in on the fun. She became the first president of the club, and Matthew came along for the ride, becoming the first “man” of Cheese Club. Cheese Club became an escape for Sarah, somewhere she didn’t have to think about science.

“Cheese Club is kind of how I found out that there’s a plethora of jobs in the cheese world that sort of use my biology degree, but in a way that isn’t being a doctor,” she said.

She told her parents she was ditching the med track to work in the cheese industry—that conversation went exactly as you would expect, she said—and got her first job as a cheesemonger in Brooklyn. Day one on the job, she said she knew would be a cheesemonger for the rest of her life, and her degree proved to be the perfect fit.

“It helps me everyday as all I did was study enzyme reactions, mold, fungus, bacteria in college, and that’s really all cheese is—enzyme reactions, mold, bacteria and yeast,” she said. “So all of my research in college goes to being able to tell that mold on that cheese is not…

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