Frequently asked questions

Cheese Carving

Why Cheese? Cheese makes a wonderful, unique carving medium.  Using traditional sculpting skills, cheese carvings are one of a kind sculptures that will wow your guests. And unlike most other mediums it's completely edible!  It's fun, unique, and people love it.  

What type of cheese works best? Any of the semi-firm cheeses like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Gouda  cheeses work well for carving. Parmesan wheels also work well.  Soft cheeses and Swiss types  present a challenge for carving but can be a delicious addition  for eating.

How long does it take to complete a carving? It depends on the size and complexity of the design. Many cheese carvings can be completed in a day.  For example, a simple logo may only take a few hours, while a bust of an individual with a base may take 2 or 3 days. 

How long do cheese carvings last? Depending on how they are handled, cheese carvings can look good on display for about a week.  For single day events they can be cut up and given to guests, donated to feed the less fortunate, or frozen for later use.  

Available sizes? Almost any size is available. Original cheese sizes range from 5 lbs. to 5,000 lbs. or more. 22 lbs. wheels and 40 lb. blocks are common sizes and easy to get.

Pricing: Cost depends on the size and complexity of the desired piece. The age of the cheese can also affect the price. Carving prices are generally estimated by the day. Discounts are available for multiple day events. It's best to request a quote with your specific needs for an accurate estimate. 

What is the process? Each cheese carving is unique and beginning with understanding your needs and objectives. The process for cheese carving is basically reductive sculpture — removing cheese to find the sculpture within. To create your carving, the process may include: brainstorming, consultation, research, sketches, cheese procurement, shipping or delivery,  in-person events, or additional cheese platters for eating. It just depends on what you need and want

What about the artist?  Sarah Nep has been creating art all her life and has been carving cheese for more that 30 years.  After studying fine art in college, she was asked by her husband to carve a cow for display for a California Cheese and Butter show.  The chubby little calf was a huge hit.  Next, Sarah was crowned West Coast Cheese Carving Champion, competing against  prominent hotel and Disney chefs and winning the contest hosted by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. This resulted in opportunities to carve cheese across the country, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico and almost every state in-between. Sarah has honed her craft delighting thousands of people in a variety of settings, primarily trade shows, grand openings, and wine tasting events. Work with the California Milk Advisory Board  included creating sculptures for media opportunities (TV and radio). Sarah recently returned to an earlier medium, clay, and attended a 2 week, intensive, figurative sculpture workshop in Italy.  Sarah also has a background in marketing and communications. Sarah's husband, Howard Nep has been passionately interested in cheese specialty foods for over 40 years.  

Need more cheese for guests to eat? Additional cheese boards, platters, and displays are also available. Creative displays of specialty cheeses can be provided for your event — large or small.  Prices depend on number of people and types of cheeses desired.  Travel expenses may apply.

What are some of the events you've carved for? Trade shows, grand openings, special events, media events, anniversaries, golf tournaments, weddings, private events, fundraisers, fairs, and festivals. 

Who have you created carvings for? 

  • Grocery and retail stores: Bristol Farms, Molly Stones, Andronico's, Lucky's, Ralphs, Whole Foods, King Soopers, Fry's Markets (Murray's Cheese Shop), AJ's Markets, Diablo Foods, Metropolitan Markets, and Sam's Club.
  • Trade shows: International Daily Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), Fancy Food Show (San Francisco and New York).
  • Festivals and fairs: Stanislaus County Fair, California State Fair, Arizona State Fair (butter), California Cheese & Butter show, North Beach Festival, and Marin County Fair.
  • Wine tasting events: Flora Springs Winery
  • Food Industry clients: Saputo Inc., California Milk Marketing Board (CMAB), Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), Tony's Fine Foods, Italco Food Products, Chef's Warehouse, Land O' Lakes, Precious Cheese, Belgioioso Italian Cheese, Emmi Roth, and Beemster Cheese.

Culture Cheese Magazine: Interesting article on cheese carving

Additional questions? Give Sarah a call at (925) 878-9350 or drop us a line at