Farewell, Paul Lawler

Paul With Raw Milk at the Fair Food Farmstand

Every city needs a local cheese impresario. In Philadelphia, that person has been Paul Lawler. His bearded mug has been hovering around the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market for as long as I’ve written this blog (3 years), helping eaters connect to local Bries, blues, and goat cheese. When he finishes his last shift on Saturday, May 5, 2012, he’ll leave this city’s cheese scene adrift.

Think I’m being overly dramatic? Are you going to take his place, driving around creation in a beat-up blue sedan to thump wheels of Havilah and sniff out raw Amish Camem-baaa? Sourcing local cheese is not just an act of love, it’s about long hours and long country roads. It’s about forming relationships with local cheesemakers — giving them feedback on new recipes, offering input on how to price and market their spoils, and sometimes even helping them name their new products.


  • Paul raised the funds to buy Philadelphia’s first all-local cheese case.
  • Paul helped chefs connect to local cheesemakers.
  • Paul taught the public how to taste local, seasonal cheese.

If you live in Philly, stop by the Farmstand on Saturday and buy a wedge from Paul on his last day. On May 15, he’ll begin a new job as a cheesemaker at Cricket Creek Dairy in northwest Massachusetts. I look forward to nibbling some of his cheeses, but I’ll miss ol’ Paul Lawler, master taster, leader of local cheese tours, and dreamer of the Golden Dream.

Here’s Paul’s cheese advice for the city: “Take risks on local cheeses! We need active consumers to keep asking for quality cheeses — the conversation between eaters and cheesemakers is what keeps a scene alive.”

And now…a Paul Lawler Retrospective 

Paul with Goats at Yellow Springs Dairy

Paul "Babysitting" Keswick Creamery

Paul with Cheesemaker Sue Miller (Note his famous candied bacon)

Paul with Coworkers at the Cheese Ball

Happy Trails, Paul!

Paul's Legacy


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9 Responses to “Farewell, Paul Lawler”
  1. Howard Field says:

    Thank you so much Paul for encourageing the cheese makers of Pa to make better cheeses. Thank you also for helping to keep our small farms viable.
    Best Wishes for your new venture. Learn new methods and tell Pa about them.

  2. Andrew Lopez says:

    So sad to hear Paul is leaving. He is a Philadelphia hero and the record needs to be corrected to admit as much. His leaving is a major loss for the city, as this article recognizes. More public awareness over the importance of his line of work is absolutely crucial. Maybe our devilishly corrupted politicians will someday help call attention or even diverts funds to issues like these. Hey Paul, good luck up north! Sounds like an amazing change. Major blow for Philly 🙁

  3. Paul says:

    Oh my god Madame you are TOO MUCH. It wasn’t myself at all but the privilege of working in a region with so many hard-working, fascinating and innovating cheesemakers. And not to mention a wonderful organization that gave me free reign to put PA dairy on a pedestal in whatever way I could imagine.

  4. Sarah says:

    Thank you, Madame, for giving Paul an awesome send-off! Hopefully at some point he will be back working closer to the Philadelphia area. I loved working with Paul and his ever-infectious enthusiasm!!! xoxo, Paul!

  5. Jesse Biringer says:

    This is so wonderful to see Paul get this kind of well deserved recognition! Paul is a wonderful friend and has forever deepened my love of cheese!!!

  6. Sara MacDonald says:

    Good luck in Massachusetts, Paul!!

  7. mike says:

    I’ll miss Paul. He’s such a genuinely dedicated, helpful and knowledgeable stand up guy. I need to buy one last cheese portrait subject from him!

  8. Pete Lawler says:

    Nothing but proud, little brother. Philadelphia’s loss.

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