Daniel Sirko, General Manager

Daniel, a longtime Chicago area resident, has more than two decades of specialty food and restaurant management experience. Most recently he was general manager of Kaufman’s Delicatessen and Bakery in Skokie. Earlier he was a founding owner of Chicago restaurant, Birchwood Kitchen and Second Street Market in Highland Park. He also helped launch Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine, and Fox & Obel Food Market, both in Chicago. Daniel holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from Michigan State University. He is a member of the American Cheese Society, a not-for-profit that promotes cheese appreciation and home and farm cheese making, and has served as a judge at the organization’s annual competition.

Q&A with our Cheesemongers

Jack Dronen, Lead Cheesemonger

Favorite cheesy dish? Baked Harbison with caramelized onions.
Wine or Beer? Beer, but it depends on what I am eating
Cow, Sheep or Goat? Cow
Desert Island Cheese? Alpha Tolman
If I were a cheese I'd be... A stinky wash rind
Dream trip? A tour of small creameries throughout Europe
When I'm not mongering I'm... Playing golf

Maureen McHugh, Events Manager

Favorite cheesy dish? Grilled pizza with assorted toppings & Burrata Cheese
Wine or beer? Wine
Cow, sheep or goat? Too hard to decide - all three!
The best music to eat cheese by is... It depends ...this last weekend it was Crosby Stills Nash & Young / Déjà Vu
Desert island cheese? Fresh Ricotta to make ice cream - thinking it will be hot!
If I were a cheese I’d be... Crottin de Chavignol - It is delicious through all the natural stages of aging :)
Favorite guilty pleasure? Chocolate Ice Cream
When I’m not mongering I’m... Cooking, Biking, Exploring, Hanging with Friends
Last good book I read was... The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

Steven Merkle

Favorite cheesy dish? The many variations of Mac and Cheese.
Most interesting thing I’ve learned at Marché… Everyday there are new discoveries: from all the history around cheese making to the artistry and nuances that is cheese making today.
Wine or beer? Wine
Cow, sheep or goat? Sheep; Rich, buttery, and nutty. Yum
Desert island cheese? It would have to be a hard cheese that can keep longer then most and keep me nourished until the boats arrive rescue me. I’d take Parmigiano Reggiano.  
If I were a cheese I’d be…   An aged Gouda. 
Favorite guilty pleasure? Retro video gaming
Dream trip? Ireland, to be able to travel the beautiful countryside would be life changing.
Favorite non-cheese product at Marché? Honey Butter! It’s name says it all. 
Haiku: Sitting in my frig, Calling out to me always, Can’t fight it anymore

Annette Licitra

Favorite cheesy dish? Pão de queijo (Brazilian baked cheese rolls), Fondue, and Napolitano-style pizza
Most interesting thing I’ve learned at Marché…Being exposed to so many small-batch cheeses and learning about the unique stories and flavors behind them
Wine or beer? Wine!
Cow, sheep or goat? While I enjoy the unique sharpness of sheep and goat, my palate leans towards cow’s milk cheese
Desert island cheese? L’Amuse Signature Gouda
If I were a cheese I’d be… Dolce Gorgonzola
Favorite guilty pleasure? Indulging in extreme dark chocolate (90%)!
Favorite non-cheese product at Marché? Marcona almonds
When I’m not mongering I’m… Studying at 2 schools – I am enrolled in the College of DuPage Culinary Arts program as well as the Institute for Integrative Nutrition for Health Coaching; Spending time with family and friends; Building my health coaching business and Volunteering at a local veggie farm!

Meredith Meder

Wine or beer? Bourbon
Cow, sheep or goat? It greatly depends on my mood...but sheep.
Desert island cheese? Gouda - so I can age it and experience a different cheese each year!
If I were a cheese I’d bean aged Italian Provolone (sharp and a tad salty)
Favorite Guilty Pleasure Sleeping in
When I’m not mongering I’m… Gardening or watching movies
Last good book I read was... A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
Best Cheese Haiku Cheese can be quite strong, Milk rennet starter and salt, Turn curd to delight