The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 72

" Cheese slaw is just one of those quintessential Roanoke things. I
always make it for people new to the area. It's a rite of passage. "
JOHN CORNTHWAIT

ABOVE:
At Fork in the
Market, cheese
slaw adds a creamy,
tangy kick to hot
dogs, like the olivestrewn Astro Dog.

72

JULY/AUGUST 2020

as a topping to burgers, hot dogs and salads, or ordered
in custom hot dog creations like the Astro Dog, where
the cheese slaw is scattered with sliced black olives.
Trinkle discovered cheese slaw at his parents'
cocktail parties in the 70's and 80's, though he recalls
them using a caterer named Harrison Hale. It's hard
to determine who was the first to serve cheese slaw,
but most people associate cheese slaw with Wilhelm.
Cheese slaw is so synonymous with Wilhelm that
it's even mentioned in her obituary in the Roanoke
Times. And her recipe has been memorialized in the
Junior League cookbook " Oh My Stars! Recipes That
Shine " as " Lib Wilhelm's Cheese Slaw. "
But a lesser known secret is that though the recipe
calls for mayonnaise, Wilhelm actually used Miracle
Whip.
" She loved Duke's mayonnaise, but she did not
put it in cheese slaw, " says Elaine " Lainy " Wilhelm,
Ms. Wilhelm's daughter-in-law, who has made the
recipe so many times she could do so with her
eyes closed. " I've never used Miracle Whip at
all, but it really does make it real tart, it really
does make it have a 'you don't know what's
in it' [quality]. "
The cookbook is where Paula Skulina,
of the Virginia-based lifestyle blog Sweet
Pea, discovered cheese slaw. In a blog post
that includes Wilhelm's recipe, she heralds
cheese slaw as " a favorite summer dip. "
Indeed, there's no better time to try
cheese slaw than in summer. It's a picnicready dip to pair with crackers and crudité
and an excellent match for grilled fare like
burgers and hot dogs, or even corn on the cob. I
suspect it'd make an excellent upgrade to plain mayo
in juicy tomato sandwiches.
For a truly transformative cheese slaw experience,
John Cornthwait, a self-styled cheese slaw enthusiast
and co-founder of marketing firm Firefli, recommends
using it in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Cornthwait is so passionate about cheese slaw
that he too opens conversations with " Have you
ever had cheese slaw? " Whatever the response, it is
an opportunity to either initiate someone or convert
them to his version.
Like pimento cheese, cheese slaw lends itself to
subtle tweaks (and undying devotion to one's family
recipe). Cornthwait subs in fresh jalapeños instead

of pickled ones to lend a snappier texture and a
pronounced spicy bite.
On the mayo front, he is loyal to Duke's. Cornthwait
also tweaked the recipe when he developed a version
for his client, Homestead Creamery. Made with
the dairy's Pepper Jack cheese, it 's aptly named
Homestead's Kickin' Cheese Slaw.
At Trinkle's Fork restaurants, kitchen manager
Westley Altice reveals that their take calls for provolone
cheese, fresh jalapeños, plus the addition of red bell
peppers, scallions, and a proprietary spice blend.
" Cheese slaw is just one of those quintessential
Roanoke things. I always make it for people new to
the area. It's a rite of passage, " Cornthwait says. " For
my company Christmas party, I make a double batch,
so folks have plenty to take home with them. "
And like pimento cheese, cheese slaw has the power
to inure an impassioned response.
One of his project managers, whose first taste of
cheese slaw was Cornthwait's recipe, says this: " Don't
need a cracker. I could eat cheese slaw alone with a
spoon. "

LIB WILHELM'S CHEESE SLAW
Serves sixteen
*	
*	
*	
*	
*	
*	

1 pound Swiss cheese, coarsely shredded
1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
½ cup chopped mild banana peppers
½ finely chopped jalapeño peppers
Mayonnaise
1 head cabbage

Combine the cheese, green onions, banana peppers
and jalapeño peppers in a bowl. Add enough mayonnaise
to bind and mix well. Store in the refrigerator for up to
1 week. Add additional mayonnaise if needed at serving
time.
Hollow out the center of the cabbage and fold back
the outer leaves. Spoon the cheese mixture into the
center. Serve with corn chip scoops.
Lib Wilhelm's Cheese Slaw recipe appears courtesy of
" Oh My Stars! Recipes that Shine " by the Junior League
of Roanoke Valley ( JLRV). To purchase the cookbook or for
information about joining JLRV now as a member, call
540-343-3663, email info@jlrv.org, or visit www.jlrv.
org. I

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The Roanoker - July/August 2020

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The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover1
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