SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our latest profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination it is today. Next. Previously.
“Wine and cheese are ageless companions,” says American food writer M.F.K. Fisher. With the much-anticipated opening of Chēz in Seaside, coastal visitors and residents now have the opportunity to experience this friendship firsthand.
Owner Destiny Dannielle Dudley Deras — whose name is pleasingly alliterative — sees her new brick-and-mortar as a labor of love. This cheese shop by day, wine bar by night has been a longtime dream in the making. “I’ve been in food and wine my whole life,” says Deras.
Chef BraeAnn Bartlett (left) and Destiny Deras (right)
A Perfect Trio: Cheese, Wine and Deli Lunches
Just two short blocks north of Upper Broadway, Chēz serves the North Coast with the careful selection only a cheesemonger and sommelier can provide. Allow Deras to guide you through a bottle portfolio focusing on smaller producers from the Pacific Northwest, providing a perfect choice for a casual dinner party. Then pair your selection with small-batch cheese and charcuterie cut to order. You’ll also find freshly prepared snacks from an herby chicken salad and country-style pâté to classic rillettes and even a vegan terrine, all prepared by chef BraeAnn Bartlett.
But that’s not all the shop provides. “During the day it’s a comfortable deli vibe,” says Deras. The menu features seasonal produce in creative soups, snacks and sandwiches. Regular lunch standouts include a creamy Japanese-inspired egg-salad sandwich and a stacked grilled cheese made with chewy sourdough bread from Cannon Beach Bakery. Meat-lovers should order a mortadella muffuletta, which is an olive-relish-slathered pressed sandwich version of food-world celebrity Anthony Bourdain’s fried mortadella sandwich.
Chēz closes for a few hours midafternoon and reopens at 4 p.m. as a wine bar with small plates, wine pairings and wine flights. In the evenings, wine-friendly bites may include options like a daily deviled egg, small plates like Nicoise salad and beef carpaccio, and delicious smoked steelhead made in collaboration with Osprey Café.
Training in Wine, Cheese and Catering
Deras’ career started in the mountains of North Carolina, where she ran a specialty wine-and-cheese shop. “I absolutely loved it,” she says. “I knew then that someday I wanted a place of my own.” To set her goal in motion, she pursued sommelier and wine educator certifications along with credentials from the American Cheese Society. In 2008 she moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley and, over a stretch of years, worked in the wine industry for esteemed producers like Belle Pente Vineyard & WInery and Leah Jorgensen Cellars.
An opportunity to hone her culinary skills brought Deras to Seaside in 2014. “It was a way to fill the food piece of the puzzle,” she says. She worked with the owners of The Nest and Dough Dough Bakery, nurturing their catering business. That success led to her launch of The Culinary Concierge in 2019, a creative suite of offerings that spans from personal chef services and luxury picnics to intimate winemaker dinners hosted in the privacy of your own home.
“We are one of those businesses that grew tremendously during COVID because restaurants were closed but people still wanted unique dining experiences,” says Deras. Most recently, a friend and longtime supporter of Deras’ epicurean virtuosity offered her a space in downtown Seaside she couldn’t resist. “After working in all these different areas, I was ready to come full circle and open my own shop.”
Picnics, Winemaker Dinners and More
The shop is cottagecore dreamy, with fresh flowers and pastel colors, but visitors will quickly see what a handy and sensible niche it fills for Seaside residents and visitors. Alongside the carefully curated bottles and cheese, you’ll find scrumptious desserts like a dark chocolate mochi brownie or lemon cream cheese-frosted cupcake. For a full DIY happy hour experience, select a grab-and-go picnic-basket rentals — blanket and cutlery included — or opt to have your charcuterie and cheese box delivered to any hotel in downtown Seaside.
For those lucky enough to be in town, the shop hosts monthly winemaker dinners on the first Wednesday of every month. Cheese lovers will also definitely want to stop by for Fondue Fridays once they begin — look for announcements on Chēz’s social media accounts.
“Ultimately, the goal is to bring an elevated dining experience to the Oregon Coast but without the pretension,” says Deras. “I’m all about breaking down the barriers when it comes to wine.” In such a comfortable and welcoming setting, there’s no doubt she can help both newbies and experts find the perfect bottle and cheese companion.
Photos by Ashlie Behm Photography