An interview with Samantha

This is the first in a series of interview posts we’ll be doing. We’ll be featuring Boxcarr Handmade Cheese staff members, other cheese-makers and farmers, and people we just want to talk about for some reason or another. It makes sense to kick off these posts with Samantha. She’s one of our two founders and sister to Austin. She’s a brand new mom, a yoga lady, a goat whisperer, a stylish server, and a cheese conjurer.

Sam standing in front of ivied wall.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

S:  I was going to be a veterinarian and a ballerina (both).

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

S:  God, so many! I guess I can say all the Chapel Hill Creamery ladies as one unit: Portia, Flo, Alison, Ck, Teresa, Alessandra, Brenda ‘n Jess. I worked there for so long! I kinda feel like I grew up there. I love all those ladies! Oh, and I should also list the Goat Lady Dairy people as well! Lee and Gini and Carrie, Bobby and Steve. I spent many of my formative years there, as well. Lessons too numerous to list.

Who has been the kindest to you in your life?

S:  My man, Mark Pettit; my mama, Deby Genke; and my other “mama,” Bina Frank. My grandpas (all of them) and my goat, Banana.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned?

S:  That I don’t know anything. I used to think that I knew everything, but the older I get the more it becomes apparent that I know very little. The universe is so big and complicated.

What is your earliest memory?

S:  I remember playing in my backyard in Lakewood Park, FL. I remember painting myself with watercolors (my whole body) like a little warrior. My dad’s big-ass garden. I remember my sandbox. I remember my kittens. I would dress them up. I thought I was a cat. I would talk to them in their language (meows).

What are you proudest of?

S:  I have always been most proud of my little brother, Austin. Mainly everything he does, like graduating high school and college, getting married, buying a house, having a baby, being a good dad, building a creamery, getting my car unstuck from the snow. Haha… yeah, I’m totally proud of most of the things he does.

If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?

S:  The day I had this little baby Rosie. I don’t want to forget such a powerful day.

What does your future hold?

S:  Hopefully lots of sleep and love and cheese!

Sam being a yogi on the street

Where is your mom’s family from? Where is your dad’s family from?

S:  Both are from New Jersey.

Have you ever been there? What was that experience like?

S:  Oh yeah. I go as often as I can! I have a big family: lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Most of them are in NJ. I eat lots of eggplant parm and cannoli. I love it!

What traditions have been passed down in your family?

S:  Bruce Springsteen.

Did you know your grandparents?

S:  Oh yeah. I knew them all (I had 3 sets). We were super lucky to not lose any until a few years ago. I still have my grandma Mary in Colts Neck, NJ. She is amazing. She is brilliant. She has the driest sense of humor. She reads the NY Times everyday and belongs to two book clubs. She goes to plays in the city and church on a regular basis. She is a feminist. She walks every day. She is still a pretty woman. She drinks really crappy cheap whiskey (sorry Grandma, you know you do) but not before 5 and she never has a hangover. She is a pro. I don’t know a more impressive woman.

What would be your last meal?

S:  Lemon and pea pasta made by Andy Perno (of The Boot), kale salad from Pizzeria Toro, chocolate pot-de-creme from Rose’s Meat Market, and a glass of white wine.

If you could only have 3 cheeses for the rest of your life, what would they be?

S:  Fresh goat curd, Robiola (all kinds), Keen’s cheddar

Describe your dream day.

S:  I would wake up at the beach with my little family. No phones or computers. Buttermilk pancakes and black coffee for breakfast! I could drink as much coffee as I like without feeling like a tweaker. We would have a big umbrella. No sunscreen in the eyes. We would collect sharks’ teeth and sea glass. We would swim and do yoga. We would eat cold watermelon and pickles and Popsicles. We would see dolphins swimming. No jelly fish. After the beach we would have a big hotel bed to hang out in. It would have white sheets and good pillows. We would watch all of the Harry Potter movies in order. We would order champagne and Robiola Roccaverano through room service. Also, I might get a foot rub and a good bath somewhere in my dream day.

Sam wears sunglasses.

What is your dream car?

S:  El camino or ranchero with a hybrid engine.

Favorite book?

S:  Swamplandia

Favorite musician, band, or group?

S:  Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers

What is your favorite movie?

S:  Murial’s Wedding

What’s the best money you have ever spent?

S: Oh I had a doula when I had my baby, Rosie! She was amazing! Priceless really. Here is her website.

What are three positive words you’d use to describe yourself?

S:  Determined. Sensitive. Understanding.

What is your favorite dairy product aside from cheese?

S:  Sour cream, yogurt, cultured butter, milk, buttermilk, chocolate malts. Sorry, lots of favorites.

If you weren’t doing cheese, what would you be doing?

S:  I really like waiting tables. I know that’s crazy but I really do! I would probably be doing that at a cute restaurant. Maybe teaching yoga? I would definitely still be having a few goats, making at least yogurt. Maybe I would be doing all of this somewhere warmer than NC. Near the beach.

What is your spirit animal?

S:  I wish it was a goat but it’s not. I’m quite sure that it’s a raccoon.

Sam wearing lipstick in a field of wheat



What a great interview. I really enjoyed getting to know more about you, Sam. Thanks for the recommendation & testament. I’m humbled & honored. I look forward to indulging in your goat cheeses, one of my favorite foods. Hugs all around.
~Devon Linton Handel, Birth Doula

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