Seasons Cheese five cheese flavors sit atop a black table. They're surrounded by a plate of spaghetti, a plate of sliced bread, and a plate of a wheel of cheese.

Seasons Cheese: A Revival of Plant-Based Cheese

Food: Interviews & Features

Every end is a new beginning. Head Chef and Owner James MacDonald and Sous-Chef Omar Lebron wholeheartedly embrace this reality with their signature plant-based cheese. A plant-based lifestyle does not mean you have to give up the taste of dairy-rich comfort foods you once devoured as a child. Seasons Cheese brings them back to life.

SLUG: How have your personal or professional experiences inspired you to make gourmet vegan cheese?

MacDonald: It was the journey of cheffing non-vegan [food] and personally switching to a plant-based lifestyle. I wanted to figure out awesome products for the plant-based world. I think cheese is the majority of everyone’s favorite food, so that is the number one product to make vegan.

A man in a black collared shirt stands in a kitchen cutting a brick of white vegan cheese. He smiles into a camera, a blender full of ingredients in the foreground.
“Our cheese is made from cashews, which yield both health and flavor benefits,” says Macdonald. Photo: John Taylor.

Lebron: I like to say nostalgia is my favorite flavor. Cheese is intertwined with my childhood. As I progressed in my career and went plant-based, it seemed like a no brainer—this is what I should do. I moved here intent on finding an awesome vegan restaurant to work at. I went banging on doors and this guy answered. We’ve been working together ever since [about 5–6 years ago].

SLUG: How is Seasons Cheese revolutionizing vegan cuisine?

Lebron: Our product is unique in its application. You can use it fresh, cook with it, bake it, anything you can do with traditional dairy cheese—our cheese can hold up and do the same.

For example, my favorite is pepper jack; you can melt it down into some pretty mean nachos.

MacDonald: The health factor, versatility and the deliciousness of it is nice. Our cheese is made from cashews, which yield both health and flavor benefits. Many cheeses on the market are high in oil and starch, [but] our signature recipe is the best of both worlds; it’s creamy and made of good bacteria so it’s healthy with less fat than dairy cheese. A lot of vegan cheeses hit the market and were just cool because they were an option—Seasons Cheese is the next level. It is not just an option, but a great option.

Most cheeses use artificial flavors or preset bacterias, like acidophilus, to create flavoring. We have authorization to do wild fermentation. All [of] our bacteria comes from the air into different temperature-regulated containers. We build off of the same culture, creating our signature flavor. Some we culture longer to change the texture, or we add ingredients. It takes about a week for the cashews to be cultured and ready for processing, which produces healthy bacteria. It took about two years to develop our signature flavor.

An image of plated spaghetti topped with Seasons vegan cheese atop a black table. A wineglass out of focus in the background.
“You can use it fresh, cook with it, bake it, anything you can do with traditional dairy cheese—our cheese can hold up and do the same,” says Lebron. Photo: John Taylor

Lebron: When we talk about culturing, it transcends just the process itself. Seeing and maintaining Seasons’ sustainability is really important. Culture is big here.

SLUG: What are some of your goals for expanding Seasons Cheese?

MacDonald: We want our cheeses sold at Whole Foods, Sprouts and Harmons and be a staple for vegan cheese. We are small and don’t have money backing us, so it’s slow. I know it will do well because [we have been a vendor] at three summer farmers markets: Wheeler Farm, Park Silly and Downtown, and everyone who tries it gets hooked.

Lebron: It would be awesome to give people their power back to know what they are consuming and take control of their decisions. People want good food. Good food is good food across the board. We deliver good food in a new package.

Shipping nationwide, Seasons Cheese goes the distance, evolving the landscape of nourishing our hearts with the comfort foods we love and making it accessible without compromising nutrition. MacDonald and Lebron are dedicated to this vision and you can taste it. Cultured with passion, their quality vegan cheese inspires a new wave of plant-based products.

Check out the adjacent vegan restaurant Seasons SLC, visit them at farmers markets this summer or buy their products online at where you can order from a variety of cheeses: Cheddar, mozzarella, fromage blanc, pepperjack and provolone.

Read more from the Local Food issue:
Salt Lake City’s Finest Pop-ups
Souffles Aren’t Just French! Kumo Cafe’s Fluffy Pancakes