In this feature, we gathered 16 young business owners in the food, farm or beverage industry that are establishing a brand in the FLX. We sent each one the same list of 10 questions. Below are their answers. We hope you enjoy learning about and supporting these local entrepreneurs!
Pete Messmer of Lively Run Dairy
1. What’s the first FLX wine or beer you tasted? Honestly, I’ve been drinking FLX wine and beer since before I was of legal age. I don’t remember which exactly, although if I had to hazard a guess, I think the wine would have been a dry Riesling from either Cayuga Ridge or Hosmer and the beer was probably something from Ithaca Beer.
2. What’s your biggest challenge in being a young business owner in the FLX? Probably dealing with all of the regulations/overhead/taxes that owning a business in New York entails
3. What’s your favorite local comfort food after a long, day of hard work? This is a tough one because there are so many good options, but a few include: A burger at Atlas Bowl, pizza from New York Pizzeria in Trumansburg, The Leg and Link (house made sausage and duck confit leg) from Stonecat, a few pints of Lucky Hare London Gentleman ESB.
4. Favorite piece of business advice?“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This isn’t true all the time, but often it is.
5. Why do you run your business here? The Finger Lakes is my home. My roots here run deep and all of my cheese making is informed by the Finger Lakes. My goal as a cheese maker is to capture the essence of this area in the form of cheese and bring it to the world.
6. Who’s your hero? Michael Pollan is a big one. Some cheese makers that I really admire are Andy Hatch from Uplands Cheese in Wisconsin and Andy and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill in Vermont. Non-food heroes include Tolkien, Hemingway, Edward Abbey and Steinbeck.
7. What did you want to be when you were a kid? A writer or a chef.
8. At what age do you think you will retire? Hahahahaha. When I die.
9. Describe yourself in 3 words. Cheese-obsessed. Driven. Localist.
10. In the past people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife, what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife? My Surly Pugsly (my mountain bike), a good knife (for cheese, obviously), and a good fly rod.
11. If you had to choose a completely new career, what would it be? I love to dabble in butchering and curing meats: bacon, Virginia-style ham, German-style sausage, so possibly a Butcher. Possibly also beer brewer. Really anything that involves food and fermentation. Or, in a hard left turn, linguistics and language.
12. What would the book or movie about your life be titled? Cheesing Hardcore: The Pete Messmer story.
13. Favorite place to eat in the FLX? So many. For a special occasion, Hazelnut Kitchen.
14. Local businessperson who inspires you? Lots here. Justin and Lisa at Hazelnut Kitchen, Scott at Stonecat. Both of those restaurants are such great expressions of Finger Lakes and the cool, collaborative attitude that we all have. I think so much of that is driven by the owners and their ideas of what they want their restaurants to be. I also really miss Dano Hutnik. He and I made cheese together and he was a constant source of creative ideas and inspiration. Every time I saw him, he had another crazy idea.
A version of this article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 edition of the magazine.