Shoppers at the new Hy-Vee grocery store in Waukee, Iowa, watched with curiosity and humor as Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann carved local school mascots into a massive hunk of Wisconsin cheese. The outgoing, vivacious artist eagerly visited with consumers and shared her wealth of knowledge on all topics related to cheese.
Kaufmann is a nationally recognized cheese carver and, in fact, holds a record recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest cheese carving in the world. The 925-pound cheese rollercoaster was created in 2011 at the Wisconsin State Fair. Though small in comparison, the recent Waukee, Iowa, cheese block of Wisconsin Colby was impressive at almost 314 lbs.
The Cheese Lady has carved dozens of collegiate and pro mascot cheese sculptures as well as Super Bowl trophies, college bowl game logos, NASCAR, Indy, La Mans and Grand Prix racing cars, plus cheese heads of multiple celebrities and more.
Kaufmann has made even larger cheese carvings than the record-holder, including a 2,500-lb. cow; 1,900-lb. astronaut; and a mammoth 12,500-lb. “single-block” cheddar wheel with a dragon encircling it. While those were all larger than the Guinness record-holding sculpture, officials were not on hand to verify. “There’s a lengthy process to go through with Guinness and there were not there to adjudicate the process,” she says.
Kaufmann has a degree in commercial art and previously worked as creative director with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for 16 years. In that capacity, she hired people for various promotions and did some carving herself, but when she left the organization, she took on more cheese-carving challenges until it became a full-time endeavor.
Shoppers stopped to taste samples, buy a chunk from the back side of the carving and watch Kauffman cut and carve the cheese.
The fun-loving, energetic Kaufmann obviously enjoys visiting with people and sharing her love for cheese. And one of the perks, she says, "If things get bad, I'll never be a starving artist."