Greg O'Neill Of Pastoral Artisan Cheese | Tasting Table - Chicago

Local cheese guru Greg O'Neill of Pastoral crafts the perfect Midwestern cheese plate

Greg O'Neill does not want your cheese to stand alone.

We asked the local guru–Pastoral owner, president of the American Cheese Society and co-founder of American Cheese Month (happening now!)–to guide us through crafting a perfect Midwestern cheese plate.

The result: Combine three of his favorite Midwest-made cheeses with Midwest-made accompaniments (all available at Pastoral) for complete cheese board mastery.

Ziege Zacke Blue: "It's a cross between a fudgy blue and a cave-aged jack," says O'Neill of this goat-cow blend ($30 per pound), a collaboration between two notable Wisconsin creameries, LaClare Farms and Roelli Cheese Haus. Pair it with Madison-made Quince & Apple preserves, like savory shallot-red wine or fig-black tea ($10 each).

Bent River Camembert: Pair this Minnesota Camembert from Alemar Cheese Company ($28 per pound) with basswood or clover honey from fellow Minnesotan, Ames ($10). Or slap it between bread in a buttered pan for a singular grilled cheese: "There's some funkiness, but it's not over the top and it's really meltable," O'Neill says.

Chevre Frais: This Nebraska-made New World interpretation of classic French goat cheese by Dutch Girl Creamery ($30 per pound) is encrusted with rosemary, chives and peppercorns. "It's pretty on the outside with a little kinkiness on the inside," O'Neill says, adding that plum-cardamom jam from Michigan's Thornberg Preserves ($11) plays nicely with the herbs.