Dishing on L.A.: The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills’ Norbert Wabnig

Nobert Wabnig is the man behind The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, which one could (and many do) argue is the best place to get your fromage fix in Los Angeles. Beyond a world-class cheese selection, this Beverly Hills mainstay evokes sophistication, offering a plethora of gourmet treats without the snobby air you might expect from somewhere so seemingly upscale. I still remember my first visit to the shop, when I was still a young culinary school student, and Norbert couldn’t have been more gracious with his time, knowledge, and OMG THE SAMPLES OF EVERYTHING. Now, almost a decade later, I reached out to learn a little more about the things that make his Austrian stomach happy.

Full name (including middle) and age?
Norbert Emil Wabnig, 64 years old. Handsome. 
Hidden talents or superpowers?
Define talent. 
How long have you lived in L.A.? And how long has the shop been open/under your direction?
Lived in L.A. since 1974, started working at the shop in 1975, bought the shop in 1978. 
What are some of your favorite places to eat around town?
Il Pastaio, Spago, BierBeisl, [and] since I live in Topanga: Froggy’s Topanga Fish MarketCanyon Bistro, and also Rocco’s in the Canyon.

Photograph by Anya Wabnig

How about places to drink? Cocktails, beer, wine, coffee, tea… pick your poison(s).
All of the above. Also, Nic’s on Canon and our private tasting room here at the store… 
The impossible question: do you have a favorite cheese?
Manchego. It’s true, what do you want me to say? 
What’s the most underrated item in your store?
Our rare wines in the cabinet…we have some special bottles in there. Also, our caviar and our caviar pricing, which is great.

How are you in the kitchen? Anything you’re particularly good (or bad) at making?
I have two dishes: Wiener schnitzel, and red beans ‘n’ rice N’awlins style… and [I’m] bad at making 2 dishes: Wiener schnitzel, and red beans ‘n’ rice N’awlins style

Any favorite markets?
Only my own.  I don’t do the grocery shopping at home… 
What do you feel is the most exciting thing happening in the local food scene right now?
Olive oils. From Pacific Palisades to Topanga to Paso. How local can it be? 
What would you want your final meal to be? And what would you want to drink along with it? Any music playing in the background?
Well, I don’t like to think that far ahead; however, a Wierner schnitzel with a tomato and cucumber salad, pan roasted potatoes, and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Music would be The Beatles, on shuffle.

The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills,