Cheese: Almost everyone loves it. From the weirdest, most unnaturally orange Kraft American to the finest, most delicately aged creations of the cheese-making centers of the world, it's one item we're seldom without. But too often we find ourselves in a rut, buying the same cheeses every time. Seven chefs give us better suggestions.
  1. Crowley cheese
    Crowley cheese
    "It is its own “species” of cheese that most resembles a cheddar in texture but has a softer flavor. It’s made by hand the old-fashioned way in the mountains of Vermont and is one of the best melting cheeses around. When I was kid, I used to order a grilled cheese with bacon on sourdough at my dad’s restaurant in Rhinebeck, New York. I never understood why no other restaurant could make one as good. I discovered years later that this was what they used." - Bryan Forgione of Buddy V's, Las Vegas
  2. Smoked Ricotta al Fumo di Ginepro by Marcelli Formaggi
    Smoked ricotta
    "It is a cold smoked organic sheep’s milk ricotta with juniper. Truly a special mild semi-soft ricotta with a light fragrance of smoke and juniper. You take a bite and close your eyes, and I swear that flavor will make you feel like your on the farm in the mountains of Abruzzo! [Marcelli Formaggi] are truly doing it old-world style: They raise the sheep, gather the milk, and produce all their cheeses right there on the farm." - Bryan Forgione of Buddy V's, Las Vegas
  3. Grana Padano
    Grana padana
    "I can’t live without Grana Padano. It’s a cheese from Italy and it makes everything taste so much better." - Fabio Viviani from Top Chef season 5; also owns Bar Siena, Siena Tavern, Prime & Provisions, and Café Firenze, Chicago and Los Angeles
  4. Delice de Bourgogne
    Delive b
    "Like most delicious things in life, this cheese is very simple in the way that it is made, but you can taste the care, craftsmanship, and the origin markers of where it is from. I enjoy eating it over toasted bread with a classic Weihenstephaner wheat beer." - John Kunkel of 50eggs, Yardbird, Swine, and Spring Chicken, Miami and Las Vegas
  5. Casu Marzu
    Casa marzu
    It's a sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia. I can’t live without it because it is an umami bomb. In terms of umami concentration, there is no cheese that can compare. What is even more special is that I get added protein from the insect larvae in the cheese." - Jonathan Wu of Fung Tu, NYC
  6. Queso Chihuahua
    "Queso Chihuahua, a soft white cheese from the Mexican state of Chihuahua originally produced by the Mennonite communities. It’s one of the most preferred cheeses in Mexico, a reputation well deserved. It’s a cross between the perfect melting cheese and nice nutty aged cheese. It is similar in texture to cheddar, but usually not as funky and has a little more of a buttery feel." - Danny Mena of Hecho en Dumbo, NYC
  7. Alpine
    Alpine cheese
    "My favorite cheese is the Alpine from Hawthorne Valley Creamery in upstate New York. It’s raw pastured cow’s milk cheese and a perfect addition to Faros’s pastas, which are made with grains sourced from upstate." - Kevin Adley of Faro, Brooklyn
  8. Fresh Ricotta
    "I can’t live without fresh ricotta. It’s such a simple preparation that really shows the quality of the dairy used. I use it in everything from pasta fillings to a binding agent, as well as simply serving it drizzled in olive oil with lightly charred bread." - Christopher Cipollone of Piora, NYC