Dec. 1—An award-winning Rogue Creamery cheese is set to make a very stately appearance Thursday as the cheese course during the Biden White House's first state dinner.
First lady Jill Biden made that announcement, emphasizing Rogue River Blue, Wednesday in the State Dining Room, which will host French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.
"I'm especially excited that we are featuring American cheeses for our cheese course, including Rogue River Blue, the champion of the 2019 World Cheese Awards," Biden said, according to a transcript of her remarks.
According to the dinner menu released by the White House, the other two cheeses included in the cheese course will be Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog from California and Deer Creek Cheddar Cheese from Wisconsin.
In addition, two other cheeses from Rogue Creamery were shipped for the event: Bluehorn Blue and Cheese Is Love Extra-Aged Cheddar, according to Marguerite Merritt, the company's cheese emissary and marketing manager. It was unclear where those cheeses would be used.
"I don't know if she specifically requested those cheeses by names or not," Merritt said. "It may come as a surprise to her, but we're excited to provide those cheeses, as well, for their enjoyment."
Merritt, who studied French and has traveled to the county, noted Rogue Creamery's products would be part of the dinner's "cheese course" — after the meal's main dish, but before dessert.
"This is traditional in French cuisine," Merritt said. "It is an interesting point of distinction that in the USA, cheese is most often served as an appetizer prior to dinner, but in France, it's almost always after-dinner enjoyment."
Rogue Creamery became aware of the White House's request for its cheese through French-based dairy producer and company business partner Savencia Fromage & Dairy, she said, and the products shipped to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. last week.
David Gremmels, Rogue Creamery's president and CEO, praised the White House's selection of cheese for such a unique occasion.
"Of course, we were truly excited by the invitation to have our cheese showcased at the state dinner, alongside French cheeses," he said.
Merritt added, "We are certainly hopeful it makes a positive impression and they savor every bite."
Bluehorn Blue is soaked in an "organic red wine blend" to create "distinctive berry notes and a brown butter finish," according to Rogue Creamery's website.
Cheese Is Love, an "extra-mature cheddar" aged three years, was created several years ago as a cheese people could buy with assurance that proceeds go to those in need in Southern Oregon.
Rogue River Blue, the company's signature product, is hand-wrapped in biodynamic syrah grape leaves soaked in pear liqueur.
"(The state dinner) creates a positive impact in our community," Gremmels said. "We hope that the administration will continue to support small, agricultural-based businesses like Rogue Creamery in the future."
Cheese, a product known (and made) well by the French, also can be a diplomatic tool, the Rogue Creamery leader added.
"If Rogue Creamery's cheese can be the catalyst to turning toward diplomatic talks that further benefit both countries, then, well, we've done our job, not only as cheesemakers but ambassadors," Gremmels said.
The last time Rogue Creamery was featured at a White House state dinner was during the Barack Obama Administration, according to Gremmels, but he was not able to specify the year between 2009 and 2017.
Aside from state dinners, delivering Rogue Creamery cheeses seems to be a bipartisan affair. The company has shipped a giant cheese wheel to the White House for every administration since George W. Bush in 2002.
For Thursday's state dinner, Gremmels noted he didn't get the invite, which stung a bit, given he is in Philadelphia on business.
"It's within reach," he said. "I wish I was hand-delivering (cheese), but I'm not doing that this time."
Rogue Creamery, located at 311 N. Front St., Central Point, began as Rogue River Valley Cooperative in 1933.
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.
Correction: This story was edited to say that just Rogue River Blue Cheese is on the official White House state dinner menu. It was unclear where the other two Rogue Creamery cheeses shipped to the White House would be used.