All About a Cheesy Weekend
… and You Can Win a Wheel of Cheese!
You may have heard of a golf or a tennis invitational, but probably not a cheesemonger Invitational. There really is such an event, however, and because of that event, you have a chance to win a full wheel of one of the best artisan cheeses in America, simply by stopping by the cheese counter at our State Street store and putting your name and contact info in a box.
On a rainy weekend a couple weeks back I participated in The Cheesemonger Invitational, a nationally-recognized event supported by the entire North American artisan cheese community in an effort to help cheesemongers become more knowledgeable and allow them to show off their skills.
This was the first time in the event’s 10-year plus history that the CMI, (as we in the biz call it) was held in Chicago, but the 44 participants came from as far away as Montreal and Pittsburgh. I am proud to say that I was among them. This was my first shot at participating in the CMI, and I was thrilled to be involved in the Saturday small group round-tables, where producers and other professionals from near and far (some came from as far away as England and Switzerland) schooled each small group on a particular product line and offered tips on how to introduce those products to you, the consumer.
The competition lasted all day on Sunday. There was a written test, a taste test in which we had to identify about a half-dozen world classic cheeses, what milk they are made with and where they are made. We had to cut and wrap cheese. We also were given a chance to construct pairings and cheese plates highlighting a particular assigned cheese. I was assigned Smokey Blue, from Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon, a cheese that usually comes up when a customer asks me which cheese in the Potash selection is my favorite.
I worked with representatives from the company in preparing for the competition. Each competitor was provided an abundant supply of the assigned cheese to work with and told to take any leftovers home with them. I took some cut pieces home, but a 4-pound complete wheel, with a retail value of more than $100 now resides in the walk-in at our State Street store. Stop in and say hi, and I will tell you more about the CMI, and offer a taste of Smokey Blue, and maybe you will be the lucky winner.
Oh, how did I do in the competition, you ask? Well, I did not finish last, but it was a bit of a humbling experience. If I have the opportunity to compete again, I will put this first experience to work, and maybe then I’ll have a bit of bragging to do. For now I can say I am proud to have participated in the Cheesemonger Invitational.