IG VELLA THE BIG CHEESE
BY KATHLEEN THOMPSON HILL
What was that weird crackling noise? It got louder and louder, and scarier and scarier. Was it an invasion of crickets into St. Francis Solano Church? Crickets in Sonoma?
The noise happened at the funeral mass for Ignazio (Ig) August Vella, the face and grand master of Vella Cheese Company
As friends, family, community members and food industry folks entered the church, we each received an unusual 12-page program loaded with photos that chronicled the life of the renowned cheesemaker from his toddler years to those of meditative aging. There were photos of him on a tricycle in front of Sonoma City Hall, of him discussing cheese with his father, Tom Vella, and of him receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the American Cheese Society.
Sticking out of each program was a paper hat like the one Ig wore every day, shaped like an old Army sergeant’s cap, with cheese brand stickers on it. As the pallbearers turned to escort Ig out of the church, they opened and put on their hats. The entire audience followed suit, creating the eerie crackling noise.
Recently, a friend said that when she … Read More