Cheddar carving might be cheesy but it's art

NEW YORK, July 4 (Reuters Life!) - It might be cheesy but a U.S. artist who has carved Mount Rushmore with its four U.S. presidents into a massive block of cheese says it is also art.

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Cheese carver Troy Landwehr spent four days carving a replica of America’s first “big cheeses” - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln -- into a 700-pound (318 kilogram) block of Wisconsin cheddar.

The carving followed several days of 31-year-old Landwehr drawing the Mount Rushmore figures and preparing to chop out the surplus piece of cheese for his most detailed, longest carving to date.

“Like Michelangelo you take out the medium that is not needed and the image will appear,” said Landwehr who runs the Kerrigan Brothers Winery in Appleton, Wisconsin, when he is not carving cheese.

“I had to draw the different presidents at different angles to get ready for this. Carving cheese you only get one chance. You can’t glue it back if you chop the wrong bit out.”

Landwehr started carving cheese at the age of 12 when The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in Little Chute, Wisconsin, tried to entice younger participants to take up the knife.

“I was artistically talented and they gave me a one hour lesson. Everything blossomed from there,” he said.

“I do tend to use cheddar which works the best because it has the best oils and consistency. Softer cheeses can droop and aged cheeses are too brittle.”

The Mount Rushmore carving, from a block about 30 inches long and 30 inches tall, was commissioned by a cheese snack company and goes on show in New York’s Grand Central Station on Wednesday before going on a month-long national tour.

Landwehr says he gets all kinds of requests for cheese carvings, from wedding bells and double hearts for weddings to company logos.

“Probably the most unusual request was a cow holding the world like Hercules,” he said.