They came, they saw, they ate cheese. Then learned how to make it.
Students in Jeffrey Gehrke's fourth-grade class at arrived at on Friday for a lesson in agriculture, eating local and cheesemaking.
And they peppered the market's cheesemonger Eva Saunders and guest cheesemaker Leslie Cooperband with questions, like how to pronounce Raclette and whether or not goats really eat everything they see.
Some simply couldn't believe some mozzarella comes from buffalo.
During a tour of the kitchen and walk-in cooler, they questioned executive chef Leonard Hollander about the possibility of rats in the cooler.
"No, I can assure you that there are not," Hollander said, smiling.
The field trip was designed to create awareness and appreciation for students about where food comes from, and how it gets to stores like the gourmet cheese market at 100 S. Marion St.
Mary Jo Schuler, the restaurant's prolific co-owner, talked with the students about supporting local business and choosing locally sourced foods. Cooperband, co-owner of the Champaign-based Prairie Fruits Farm gave a lesson in the science behind making cheese, then teamed up with Hollander for a live demonstration.
Together, the pair whisked and mixed ingredients that would make two ricottas, one with sheep's milk and one with goat's milk, which were cooled down and delivered to students after their walk down to Mills Park, where they had an afternoon meal miles away from the school cafeteria.