THE CHEESE MONGER INVITATIONAL
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, with the international team from Neal’s Yard Dairy and two of their cheese makers. Sarah Hennessey from Durrus Cheese in Ireland and Tom Calver from Westcombe Dairy. We have a long history of supplying NYD, 15 years, and are exploring the potential reach of our products in the US.
It was an intense week of meeting potential customers, presenting the products of England Preserves.
One experience stood out, in it’s uniqueness, participating in The CheeseMonger Invitational. To describe in simple terms it is a two day competition of US cheese mongers. Prior to the event, the host and founder, Adam Moskowitz, had been much referred and in my minds eye was built into a notorious compare. I was unsure of what to expect from the CMI, except, maybe, a party.
However I ended up being really charmed and inspired. At the core of the CMI is a desire to create and nurture a community and culture within the cheese monger world. Imbuing each monger with a sense of dignity and satisfaction.
Having worked my adult life in some form of food retail, I recognise a hunger and desire for this stimulation of culture on this side of the Atlantic. Despite the food retail sector being a large employer in the UK, it is rarely seen as a career choice. Being English, I assume, this to be caught up in our class system and that although social mobility moves at a snails pace, realistic aspirations are also devalued and seen as inferior. AM seems aware of the seismic task, saying, ‘I want to change lives and inspire people’.
He also realises that an improvement in the satisfaction of the mongers improves the supply chain for everyone, including himself as the distributer. Recently setting up the Barnyard Collective, based at his warehouse in NYC, it is a cheese education centre for cheese professionals. It is a building of structural support within an industry, benefiting everyone.
For all of the brash bravado of the CMI, AM is lyrically eloquent and concise about his mission. After my return home and reading some of his story on line, he has a background in the arts and still values a time of personal development spent in the poetry cafes of NYC. Language is important to AM and he uses it to lead, ‘curriculum and lexicon, empowering people with words’.
This resonates with us all at England Preserves. We have always seen and felt the company to be imbued with a strong cultural identity that we harness language to connect to people. Because without cultural appreciation and identification, what do we have, but apathy? Leaving the final words with AM, ‘the more we are confortable with language, the more our civilization will grow’.