The Cheese Doctor is in

The Cheese Doctor is in

By Hannah Jackson ’24

Kandice Marchant met her husband Roger at Case.

“Sometimes you’re up to your elbows in curds, with boots and an apron on, but I love the transformative process. I tell myself ‘I can make this into anything.’ It feels good going home after making 500 cheeses.”

— Kandice Marchant

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A pioneering medical researcher now runs an artisan cheese shop in Cleveland Heights. How did that happen?

Not long ago, Kandice Marchant, MS ’83, PhD ’85, MD, held the prestigious position of Chair of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic. She was, in fact, the first woman to lead an institute at the world-renowned hospital system.

 

Along with being a pioneering medical researcher, Marchant was also a budding turophile–a connoisseur of cheese. With time, she began to step away from medical leadership and shape her hobby into a second career.

 

Today, the accomplished hematopathologist is the founder and owner of Marchant Manor Cheese in Cleveland Heights, where she happily calls herself the “Cheese Doctor.” Her colorful shop, which features cheeses from all over the country as well as her personal creations, represents a sharp but satisfying transition for a Case-trained scientist.

 

“For two years, I was splitting my time between medicine and cheese, which wasn’t easy,” she said. “But when I finally went all in on the cheese shop, I knew I was where I was meant to be, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”

 

It all started with her love of science. Born and raised in cheese-loving Wisconsin, Marchant came to Case Western Reserve from Northwestern University to pursue a doctorate in polymer science and obtain her medical degree.

 

“I found the curriculum rewarding and challenging and a good basis for my research studies,” she said. “One comparison I have between curricula in medical school and engineering is that the engineering classes made you think and solve problems, while in medical school it was a huge volume of information to memorize. Doing both programs side by side sharpened the comparison.”

 

She began at Cleveland Clinic in 1990 as a resident of pathology before moving to hematopathology. In 2006, she was appointed Chair of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute. For a decade, she oversaw a staff of 1,500 and eventually the laboratory testing at eight hospitals. In 2016, she stepped down from her leadership position to spend more time in the lab. By then, she was already creating her own cheeses in her kitchen.

 

Marchant was introduced to the deeper wonders of cheese by her late husband, Roger Marchant ’82, MS ’84, PhD, a native of Birmingham, England, and a former professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Macromolecular Science and Engineering at the Case School of Engineering. Traveling with Roger through Europe, she said, she learned that cheese plates are an after-dinner custom held in high regard.

 

Before she knew it, she was hooked on the idea of cheese making.

 

“It was one of those moments when the light goes on,” she said. “And the chemistry behind it was just so cool to me.”

 

Her passion grew when her husband surprised her with a visit to Murray’s Cheese Shop in New York City, where she began to learn the art of cheese making at a three-day boot camp. She began to enroll in different cheese-making classes from Vermont to California. Once her family and friends had tasted her creations, they knew that she had something special to share.

 

Roger passed away in 2014 at the age of 62. In 2018, Candice went part-time at Cleveland Clinic, splitting her time between laboratory work and cheesemaking. Then, in 2020, she took the plunge and opened Marchant Manor Cheese, having delayed the opening a year because of the pandemic. Recently, she retired from Cleveland Clinic to fully devote herself to her new pursuit.

 

Second act, new career

 

Inside her bright, spacious shop on Lee Road, shelves and tables are laden with a wide assortment of cheeses, jams, wines, and other pairings. The walls are bedecked with photos of her cheese-making team and framed newspaper and magazine stories that tell of her cheese adventure. In the shop window, a neon sign announces, “The Cheese Doctor is in!” –a testament to her two worlds becoming one.

 

“I don’t consider myself retired, I like to think of it more as a career transition,” she said. “I made the leap to retire from medicine to pursue a second career in cheesemaking, as I love new challenges.”

 

One of Marchant’s first customers, Ohio City Provisions, connected her to Paint Valley Farms in Stark County, where she makes her cheese with rich Guernsey cow milk. Marchant said there’s something special about making one’s own cheese recipe from scratch.

 

“I’m very hands-on in the process. I love making cheese,” she said. “Sometimes you’re up to your elbows in curds, with boots and an apron on, but I love the transformative process. I tell myself ‘I can make this into anything.’ It feels good going home after making 500 cheeses.”

 

She specializes in three cream cheese blends that she makes herself, including Elmstead Ash, named after the road that her late husband grew up on. But the shop includes cheeses from across the country to try alongside her personal creations.

 

Marchant has started to offer cheese classes, such as the Cheese Explorers series, where customers learn about different cheeses and develop pairings through tastings. In the Cheese Maker series, people learn to make their own cheese step-by-step at the shop.

 

“Our tagline is ‘Makers, Mongers, and Mentors,’” Marchant said. “So, I always wanted to use my teaching background to teach others about the art and science of cheese making.”

 

Marchant Manor Cheese is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11am-7pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm at 2211 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Learn more at marchantmanor.com