Daphne Zepos – In Memoriam


courtesy of Cody Pickens


Cheese School co-owner Daphne Zepos passed away just after midnight on July 3rd, 2012. Diagnosed with lung cancer three months earlier, Daphne waged a private battle against the disease that took her life much more quickly than any of us imagined. Her husband, parents, sister, and diverse community of close friends lost a generous spirit and the cheese world lost an extraordinary talent. She was one of brightest stars I’ve ever met. Her eclectic and erudite tastes made any discussion of cheese rich with history and beautiful with imagery. I learned so much in the short time we spent together; about cheese, business, and how to share one’s passion with others. I also laughed really hard every time we were together, even on tough days. And, thanks to her, I ate an unholy amount of chocolate (which is really only fun with an accomplice.)

The morning of her death, I stopped into the school and stared at the door remembering just how she would walk into the office emanating a small sun’s worth of energy. She’d pause in the doorway, give out a little sigh, tilt her head and say ‘hallo’ with the most sincere smile. Few people, even those who make an effort, can focus their interest so deeply on another person. Her average ‘hallo’ was how most people receive really good news or flowers on Valentine’s Day.

According to her husband Brad, she had made peace with dying, saying: “I have lived a full and rich life, full of love. I have made my own decisions and I created the life I wanted to live. I owned my life.” Her courage is comforting and inspiring. And so I feel greedy for saying that it seems like she’s been stolen from us. But maybe there would never have been enough time to soak in a little more of her glow.

The San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times both published lovely obituaries on Daphne. Her good friend Ari Weinzweig also wrote about her for Culture Magazine. I invite you to read more about Daphne and her tremendous contributions to the artisan cheese industry.

Kiri Fisher


The Daphne Zepos Teaching Award

The Daphne Zepos Teaching Award (DZTA) is an annual scholarship created in Daphne’s honor to allow American cheesemongers to travel, learn and teach about cheese. Its goal is to grow a squad of cheese professionals who teach about the history, culture and techniques in making, aging and selling cheese. Each year someone new will go forth to learn about cheese. The scholarship will fund travel and living expenses. The winner will return to share their learnings with the cheese community at the annual American Cheese Society Conference and beyond. The scholarship is funded by the Daphne Zepos Endowment, which is held in the American Cheese Education Foundation. Learn more about the DZTA, keep up with the latest news about award recepients on Facebook, or make a donation.