We were thrilled when we talked Jonathan Alexander into moving out and joining us when we opened last year. Jonathan brought with him knowledge and passion gained during five years as a cheesemonger at Zingerman’s, the legendary specialty food retailer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Zingerman’s commitment to its community and passion for great food is in many ways an inspiration to us, so it’s great having a veteran on our team.
At first it was hard to think about leaving Ann Arbor. He came out to visit while we were building out the store. “I got home and realized it was a no-brainer,” he says. “This is everything I’d trained for.”
At Driver’s, he’s in charge of sourcing our cheeses and a big range of specialty foods, seeking out unique products from small-batch makers across the country. It’s his job to know the production process at every step of the way and make sure that what we’re offering lives up to our goals for the store.
Moving to the Bay Area means Jon gets to meet some of his food heroes. June Taylor, for instance, makes a favorite range of jams and marmalades. “Suddenly, there I was in her kitchen in Berkeley, and she was stirring and I was tasting,” he marvels.
The University of Michigan alum says Sausalito, while smaller, reminds him in some ways of Ann Arbor with its mix of tourists passing through and an established community. “One of the things I value most is the people I see every day or two,” he says.
Next time you see Jon, say hi, and if you want some good advice about cheese, he’s your guy. His favorite? Landaff, made by “a very kindly dairy farming couple in New Hampshire using an old Welsh recipe.” He says it’s “cheddar-y” but “approachable.”