This week I’m gearing up for a special moment – I’m hosting an interactive cheese tasting as part of TEDxSJU, an event that takes place this Thursday on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
You’re probably familiar with TED – it’s a series of livestreamed talks by speakers and thinkers from all over the world. I’ve watched many TED talks (I'm riveted by Paul Stamets' mushroom talk), but I’ve never seen anyone host a TED tasting.
That’s why I’m presenting CHEDD-X, a talk about cheese and social media, accompanied by a tasting of traditional British cheddar for 150+ students.
Why? Well, here in Philadelphia, most students think of cheddar cheese as the Whiz that goes on cheesesteaks. I want them to experience what cheddar tasted like in its earliest incarnation – the cheddar of their ancestors.
|Photo courtesy of Mary Quicke|
Mary Quicke produces a traditional English cheddar that I happen to love, and she is a social media phenom. She writes a fantastic blog, Mary’s Diary, where she provides monthly updates about her farm in Devon -- from the changing crops in her fields to new calves in the barn.
She’s also on Twitter (@Maryquicke), and her tweets are as charming as Mary is in person. Here is a recent crumb:
Just had a beautiful puffball left outside my door by Graham – yum. Lovely braised in butter, + a hint of our smoked cheddar + parsley.
Mary is an example of someone who defies social media stereotypes. She’s not a twentysomething (sorry, Mary) and she doesn’t work for a marketing company as a “strategist.” She works for herself, and through social media she offers us a glimpse into her extraordinary passion for cheesemaking.
TED talks are about ideas worth spreading, and while I hate to overwork the obvious pun, I have to tell you that I think Mary’s approach to social media is worth spreading. She’s not simply promoting cheese or her dairy; she shares her story.
In fact, Mary doesn’t ostensibly “promote” at all. She doesn’t offer coupons or gimmicks. She doesn’t push her product. She uses words and images to bring us into her world so that we can’t help but yearn for a nibble of cheese, a whiff of cavey rind.
Mary speaks to our senses. When she shares details, people want to listen, look, taste, inhale. That, to me, is what sets Mary apart. She’s the Basho of the Twitterverse, the Brontë of the blogosphere.
Who wouldn't want to follow her?
TEDxSJU takes place on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 4-7 p.m. in the Creative Commons at Saint Joseph's University. The public is welcome to attend.