Anne Saxelby Cause of Death: How a Heart Condition Took Away a Cheese Pioneer

Anne Saxelby was a visionary cheesemonger who dedicated her life to promoting American artisanal cheeses. She was the founder of Saxelby Cheesemongers, the first shop in New York City that exclusively sold cheeses from small-scale producers in the Northeast. She was also a mentor, a leader, and a friend to many in the cheese community. Sadly, she passed away on October 9, 2021, at the age of 40, due to a heart condition. This article will explore her remarkable life, her achievements, and her legacy.

Early Life and Education

Anne Saxelby was born on March 25, 1981, in Dayton, Ohio, to Bill Saxelby, an entrepreneur, and Pam (Reesman) Saxelby, a children’s book author. She grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, where she developed an interest in cheese at a young age. She wrote a high school thesis on the processes of decay and fermentation of foods, according to her father. She moved to New York City in 1999 to attend a studio art program at New York University. She graduated in 2003 with a degree in fine arts.

Career and Passion

After college, Saxelby got a job at Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut, where she learned how to make raw milk cheese. She then worked at Murray’s Cheese, one of the most renowned cheese shops in Manhattan, where she honed her skills as a cheesemonger. She also traveled to Europe and interned with Hervé Mons, a famous affineur (cheese ager) in France. She visited farms and learned about different types of cheeses, such as goat and sheep’s cheese.

Saxelby returned to New York with a mission: to showcase the diversity and quality of American cheeses. She opened her own shop, Saxelby Cheesemongers, in 2006, in a tiny space in the Essex Market on the Lower East Side. She was the first cheesemonger in the city to focus solely on American cheeses from small producers. She started with 30 kinds of cheeses from local farmsteads and delivered them by bike to restaurants and customers. She soon gained recognition and respect from cheese lovers, chefs, and media outlets.

Saxelby expanded her business over the years. She opened another store in Chelsea Market in 2017 and a warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, with her business partner Benoit Breal. She also launched a radio show called Cutting the Curd on Heritage Radio Network, where she interviewed cheese makers, experts, and enthusiasts. She closed her original Essex Market location in 2019 when the market building was demolished.

Saxelby was more than just a seller of cheese. She was also an advocate, an educator, and a supporter of American cheese makers. She helped them find new markets and opportunities, as well as advised them on cheese making techniques and regulations. She also collaborated with chefs and restaurants to create cheese menus and pairings. She was instrumental in the growth and development of the American artisanal cheese industry.

Cause of Death and Legacy

Saxelby died unexpectedly on October 9, 2021, at her home in Brooklyn. The cause of death was a heart condition that she had been diagnosed with earlier that year, according to The New York Times. She is survived by her husband Patrick Martins1, an owner of Heritage Foods USA, a purveyor of meat and poultry from independent American farmers, and their two children, Luca and Francesca.

Saxelby’s death shocked and saddened the cheese world. Many people expressed their condolences and tributes on social media and other platforms. They praised her for her passion, her vision, her generosity, and her impact on American cheese culture.

Saxelby’s legacy lives on through her family, her friends, her colleagues, and her customers. Her shop in Chelsea Market continues to operate under the management of Breal. Her radio show is still airing on Heritage Radio Network. Her name is still associated with some of the finest cheeses in the country.

Saxelby also left behind a fund that supports American cheese makers and their families. The Anne Saxelby Legacy Fund1 was established by Martins1 shortly after her death. The fund aims to provide financial assistance for education, health care, retirement, and other needs for cheese makers who share Saxelby’s values and vision. The fund also honors Saxelby’s memory by celebrating her achievements and contributions to the cheese community.

Anne Saxelby was a remarkable woman who changed the way we think about and enjoy cheese. She was a pioneer, a leader, and a friend. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.

Doms Desk

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