2017 ACS Speaker Bios

Sascha Anderson, ACS CCP®, Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

Sascha Anderson just can’t stop talking about cheese. After falling in love with all things cheese behind the counter at Oklahoma’s Forward Foods, she made her way to the renowned Murray’s Cheese in New York City, where she taught myriad classes, trained the top-notch staff, and developed the company’s knowledge base as the Director of Education, later stepping into the role of Director of E-Commerce, sending cheese across the country. She’s been lucky enough to preach the curd to chef-instructors and sommeliers at the International Culinary Center, cheesemakers and dairy farmers through Cornell University Dairy Food Extension, students from preschoolers to graduate students at institutions like New York University and the New School and through programs like the Just Food Conference and the Edible Institute. Sascha has served as a most cheesy guest on WNYC, Martha Stewart Radio, and the Heritage Radio Network, and she gained certification as a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society’s rigorous exam in 2013. After freelancing and consulting on projects including Cider Week NYC and the Cheesemonger Invitational, Sascha joined the team at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe in 2015 as the Director of Business Development, where she oversees operations and develops and implements growth strategies. Her favorite cheese is perfectly ripe.

Ryan Andrus, Cypress Grove Cheese

Ryan Andrus is a commercial goat dairy farmer working for Cypress Grove in Northern California. Ryan has over a decade of experience managing goat dairies and raising replacements in a commercial setting.

In 2011, Ryan teamed up with Cypress Grove with the goal to improve the standards of commercial goat farming in the western U.S., leading by example through the construction and management of a state-of-the-art model goat dairy. Together they designed a replicable model dairy that can be scaled up or down. Their aim was to combine the best elements from the proven Dutch goat dairy system with those of California’s successful cow dairy industry.

Five years after their start, their American Humane Certified goat dairy has a herd size of 1600 goats. The dairy is set up with the most modern technology currently available including an RFID system with milk meters, daily milk weights on each goat, and a herd management software system equipped with a complete health and genetic history of each animal. The production metrics are 40% higher than the California average and continue to climb as the herd matures. The dairy is involved in several ongoing research projects involving multiple universities and technology development companies.

Ryan is a firm believer in the concept of integrating technology into agriculture to improve efficiency, improve living conditions for animals, improve working conditions for humans, reduce carbon footprints, and enhance environmental responsibility. Ryan is also involved in developing international communication networks for commercial goat farmers to share information, protocols, BMPs and, hopefully someday, genetics.

Benton Brown, Crown Finish Caves

Benton Brown is co-owner of Crown Finish Caves in Brooklyn, New York.  He and his wife Susan Boyle formed a construction company to renovate the historic Nassau Brewery building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn into commercial rental units while turning the underground “lagering” tunnels into a cheese aging facility.  Benton studied both cheese making and affinage with Peter Dixon while at Consider Bardwell in Vermont and worked with renowned affineur Herve Mons at his caves in St. Haon le Chatel in Roanne. Benton has a background in the art world in NYC working at the Guggenheim and galleries such as Deitch Projects as an art handler/installer while he pursued sculpture.  He maintains a welding/woodworking shop and operates a letterpress shop printing shop as well.  His construction experience has contributed to the design and installation of the building’s mechanical systems (solar, radiant heat, high efficient boilers, and green roofs) which guided the rehabilitation of the climate/humidity controlled aging caves.

Molly Browne, ACS CCP®, Vermont Creamery

Molly began her cheese career at the illustrious Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO and then went on to help open Cured, Boulder’s premier cheese shop. During this time, she also pursued a master’s degree in Food Rhetoric and Writing from CU-Denver. After obtaining her degree and steering the Cured ship for 3 years, she packed it all up and moved east to the mountains of Vermont, where she worked on the sales and marketing team at Jasper Hill Farm.

Molly recently re-located back to the Front Range, where she now works as the Southwest Territory rep for Vermont Creamery. She is an ACS CCP and a contributor to the Oxford Companion of Cheese.

Lisa Caprera, Pennsylvania State University

Lisa Caprera is currently a master’s student of food science at the Pennsylvania State University, under the direction of Dr. Kerry Kaylegian. Her research has focused on developing tools for farmstead and artisan cheesemakers to track cheese quality and consistency using sensory evaluation and other techniques. She is also working on hazard analysis and risk assessment resources for raw milk cheesemakers. She is passionate about bridging the gaps between cheesemakers, regulators, and researchers to promote the best cheese possible and is a proud volunteer for the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild.

Jean-Louis Carbonnier, Comte Cheese Association

Jean-Louis Carbonnier heads Carbonnier Communications, a boutique communications and marketing company specialising in traditional, terroir-driven wines, spirits and cheese founded in 2000.

Carbonnier and his team run the Comté Cheese Association, the U.S. arm of the Comité Interprofessionnel de Gestion du Comté (CIGC). CIGC was set up by decree on the 11th of June 1963 following the establishment of the Comté AOC — now PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). It represents all those who are involved in the production of Comté—dairy farmers, cheesemakers, affineurs — and carries out activities in all fields of interest to the trade, including research and technical issues, economics, information and communications, marketing, law and promotion of the Comté appellation, defense of local traditions and protection of the environment.

Carbonnier was first introduced to the wonderful world of Comté by Claudine Fox and Daphné Zepos in 2005 and has travelled extensively to the Jura region, cradle of this ancient cheese.

Over the years, Carbonnier has worked with several IG’s including Champagne, Cognac and Cahors and has actively lectured about wine and cheese throughout the U.S. He is a native of Reims, France, and lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

Elizabeth Chubbuck, Murray’s Cheese

In 2009, Elizabeth left a career in magazine ad sales and took the plunge into the world of cheese where she joined Murray’s Cheese as a Wholesale Manager, working with NYC’s top chefs.  The next 5 years were spent sharpening her cheese vocabulary, launching an industry-focused education program and mastering the art of sales.  In 2014 she took on e-commerce as well, and has spent the last two years learning the ins and outs of this part of Murray’s business.  In her current role as Sr. VP of Marketing and Sales at Murray’s Cheese, Elizabeth oversees wholesale, e-commerce, marketing, catering, events & education as well as the national Kroger team.  Having grown with the support of inspiring cheese mentors and talented coaches, Elizabeth places a strong emphasis on developing leaders and individuals on all of her teams.  Cheese travels have taken her from the French Alps, to the West Midlands of England, the Picos de Europa in Spain and back home to Wisconsin.  Comte is her Saturday cheese.

Dr. Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Iowa State University

Stephanie Clark grew up on a small farm in Massachusetts, where she first started making cheese from milk of her dairy goats.  She received her B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) in 1990, and continued on for a M.S. in Food Science, which she earned in 1993.  Stephanie earned her Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell University in 1997, then joined the faculty at Washington State University (WSU) in 1998.  She was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, in 2004.  Dr. Clark joined the faculty of Iowa State University (ISU) in August, 2009.  She serves as the Associate Director of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, where she oversees the ISU-associated dairy research component of the three-institution center.  Her research, which centers broadly around dairy products chemistry, microbiology, processing and sensory evaluation, has been presented in over 65 publications and over 65 posters and presentations.  Stephanie teaches courses in dairy products, scientific communication, and sensory evaluation of foods.  She has been the research advisor of more than 35 undergraduate, 20 MS, and 6 PhD students.  Stephanie has advised successful food product development and dairy products evaluation teams at WSU and at ISU.  She is an active member of the Dairy Foods Division of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), serving in many leadership roles for both organizations.  Dr. Clark has served two terms as Section Editor for the Journal of Dairy Science and has been an Associate editor for Food Bioscience since its inception in 2012.  She has been the technical advisor of the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition since 2011 and has been the chair of that committee since 2016.  In addition to serving as a visiting professor in China, Dr. Clark has also shared her dairy foods and cheese making expertise in Armenia, India, and Mexico.  In the spring of 2016, Dr. Clark was promoted to professor, and in the fall, she was awarded the Virginia M. Gladney endowed professorship at ISU.

Ann Colonna, Oregon State University

Ann Colonna received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry in 1997 from the University of Arizona and followed that with a culinary degree from the Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado and Provence, France.  She continued her education at the University of California, Davis where she earned an M.S. degree in Sensory Food Science in 2001 focusing on methods to mask the carry-over effects in the mouth from the astringency in wine.

Ann is currently in her 15th year as the Sensory Program Manager at the Food Innovation Center in Portland, Oregon, an off campus Oregon State University Experiment Station.  She assists industry clients with sensory and consumer testing and collaborates in mission oriented research designed to advance Northwest agriculture and food products.  Recent work includes factors affecting consumers’ preferences for and purchasing decisions regarding pasteurized and raw milk specialty cheeses, consumer detection and acceptability of reduced-sodium bread, a collaboration with WorldFish to study perceptions of Egyptian Tilapia, gauging the sensory impacts of steam treatment to combat Salmonella on in-shell hazelnuts, evaluating consumer acceptability of new Northwest strawberry varietals and understanding consumer preference for grass-fed beef among others.

Louise Converse, Artisan Cheese Company

Louise Kennedy Converse is the owner of Artisan Cheese Company, an independent specialty cheese shop in Sarasota, FL, offering hand-cut to order Artisan and Farmhouse cheese with a strong focus on American and regional cheese. Artisan Cheese Company opened in 2012, and serves the mid-Gulf Coast of Florida for those seeking artisanal American and European cheese, as well as small and micro batch pantry goods. Together with her chef/manager, a CIA grad from Hyde Park, they serve up a farmer’s market-driven lunch focusing on local and regional seasonal fare. As much as possible they keep their heads down and stay in their lane. The mission of Artisan Cheese Company, is to introduce people to the magic and alchemy of cheese.

Prior to cheese, Louise was the deputy director of a multi-year initiative at Harvard Kennedy School on Community in America. During her 20 years on and off as a senior administrator at Harvard, she managed the national rollout of several book projects, coordinated and managed several multi-national conferences, an annual transnational two-week symposiums in England, and oversaw general fundraising and financial stewardship for the research program. But strangely she would find herself eavesdropping at the cheese counter at Formaggio Kitchen as often as she could.

In between all of that, Louise also has a background in graphic design, and she dabbled for some time in the fine art world. Further back, like most people wandering around looking for meaning, she spent some years working in restaurants. She is a bit of a techno geek.

Louise is originally from England and Scotland. She’s always loved cheese, and her first cheese memory was Stilton. She has always wanted to open up a proper cheese shop. Which she has done.

Kevin Crompton, Epic Brewing

Kevin Crompton was born and raised in Salt Lake City Utah.  He attended the Master Brewers Association of America, Brewing and Malting Science. He started his career in the brewing industry in 1995 at Uinta Brewing Co. where he spent a total of 9 years and worked his way up to the brewhouse where he spent 5 years as the head brewer. He has since worked for three other brewing companies before landing his current position as the Brewmaster of Epic Brewing. He has been working in the brewing industry for 22 years and has loved every minute of it. He has been fortunate enough to work in nearly every aspect of the industry, from designing hundreds of beer recipes for the companies that he has worked for to winning dozens of national and international awards for his delicious craft. He is passionate about craft beer and has worked with chefs to create beer pairings and beer dinners and has worked very closely with people from the cheese, coffee and chocolate industry to create parings and incorporate these flavors in the beers that Epic Brewing makes.

Edward De Beukelaer, Obsalim

Edward graduated as a veterinary surgeon in Belgium in 1986. He worked as a Large animal veterinary surgeon in France and the UK. In 1995, he started learning homeopathy as a specialty. He is currently the president of the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy.  In 2005 he discovered Obsalim which changed his view on ruminant farming/medicine completely. He translated some of the Obsalim features into English with a plan to help others to discover this groundbreaking view on feeding and keeping ruminants.

Adam Dick, Dick Taylor Chocolate

Adam Dick is co-owner, and head chocolate maker at Dick Taylor Chocolate.  Dick Taylor Chocolate is an award-winning small batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker located in Humboldt County, California.  For the past six and a half years, Adam has been honing his craft creating single origin chocolate bars using just cacao and cane sugar.  Having a deep appreciation of food and drink, Adam is always looking for interesting and unique ways to incorporate chocolate into our daily cuisine,  and to challenge people to look at it as more than just a sweet treat. Cheese and beer are some of his favorite foods, and happen to pair perfectly with chocolate!

Peter Dixon, Parish Hill Creamery

Peter Hicks Dixon is a dairy foods consultant, teacher, and cheesemaker from Westminster West, Vermont.  Peter has over 30 years of experience establishing small-scale cheesemaking facilities, developing cheesemaking recipes and techniques, and designing and implementing food safety programs.  Peter has been around farms all his life, and got his start in the 1980s making soft-ripened type cheeses and training with traditional French cheesemakers in his family’s Guilford Cheese Company.  He has Bachelors and Masters degrees in Animal and Food Sciences from the University of Vermont and has worked for Shelburne Farms and Vermont Creamery.  Since 1997, he has operated Dairy Foods Consulting, working in agricultural development projects in Macedonia, Albania, and Armenia and traveling in the US, Canada, and China to teach workshops and consult for artisan cheesemakers.  He and his wife, Rachel operate Westminster Artisan Cheesemaking, teaching classes in cheesemaking, food safety, affinage, and creamery design, organization and management.  From 2000 to 2004 he owned and operated Westminster Dairy where he made Italian-style cheeses.  From 2007 to 2012 he developed and made Consider Bardwell Farm’s cheeses, trained their staff, and designed and implemented their HACCP program. He and Rachel, began making cheese at their Parish Hill Creamery in August 2013.

Laura Downey, ACS CCP®, Fairfield Cheese

A lifelong “foodie” and former retail professional, Laura Downey is co-owner of Fairfield Cheese Company in Fairfield, CT and Greenwich Cheese Company in Cos Cob, CT. Since opening its doors in May of 2009, Fairfield Cheese Company has quickly become the area’s premier source for artisanal cheese is the recipient of CT Magazine’s 2011 & 2012 Best Cheese Selection in CT and also was mentioned in Food & Wine Magazine Online as a top 5 place to buy cheese in the US by cheese expert Laura Werlin.

In addition to retail sales, the wholesale department of Fairfield Cheese Company provides cheese, menu expertise and staff training to area caterers and restaurants.

Laura is member of The American Cheese Society, and has earned the professional designation “Certified Cheese Professional” (ACS CCP®).  She is also a member of the VT Cheese Council and Slow Food USA. She is a frequent cheese columnist for local media outlets and has also developed the popular Cheese School at Fairfield Cheese Company where Laura passes along her knowledge and passion for everything CHEESE.

Adam Dulye, Brewers Association

Widely recognized for his keen beer and food pairing ability, Chef Adam Dulye creates dynamic dishes that complement the distinct flavor profiles in craft beer. As Executive Chef to the Brewers Association and CraftBeer.com, he educates guests on the compatibility of craft beer and contemporary cuisine.

At the Brewers Association, Dulye leads the culinary side of several events including SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, Paired at the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Cup Dinners. In addition, Dulye co-authored CraftBeer.com’s Craft Beer and Food Course designed for culinary schools and those in the industry to learn how to pair craft beer and food. Dulye has also collaborated with the Export Development Program for craft beer dinners in Munich, London, Paris and Stockholm taking what American craft brewers have created and partnering with internationally recognized chefs.

In July 2012, Dulye took a new approach to beer and food with the opening of The Abbot’s Cellar. A fine dining destination and SF Chronicle Top 100 restaurant, Abbot’s Cellar dedicated menus to food and beverage pairing with a focus on American cuisine and craft beer. Acting as a driving force for the entire staff, Dulye says, “At The Abbot’s Cellar, we took the conversation further when interacting with diners to guide them towards the ideal beer and food pairing.” Dulye executed a daily changing à la carte menu as well as three and five-course tasting menus featuring recommended beer pairings.

Prior to opening Abbots Cellar, the Culinary Institute of America graduate helmed several kitchens in craft-beer centric locations such as Boulder and Vail, CO and Portland, OR, garnering the attention of beverage trade media and industry organizations.
In 2012 Dulye collaborated on a beer in tribute to James Beard with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. The brew, an Amber Biere de Garde, ended up with an invitation to present a five course beer dinner at the James Beard house in New York City.  This would be Dulye’s second beer dinner at the Beard house.

Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery

Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned co-ops, and has been combining both of these infatuations as the cheese buyer for San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery Cooperative since 1994. Edgar has been a judge at numerous national cheese competitions, a board member for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and has written about cheese since 2002. His latest book, Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese investigates America’s relationship with cheddar, why we love it, and the effect that cheese has had on the American food system. Edgar’s cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge was published in 2010.

Nicolas Farrell, Italco Food Products

Nicolas Farrell is the Director of Sales & Marketing for Italco Food Products, the Rocky Mountain Regions premier Specialty Food Distributor.

In addition to being a Graduate from Johnson & Wales University with an AS in Culinary and a BS in Food Service Management, Nicolas has 20 years of experience in the Food Service Industry. His knowledge ranges from front and back of the house operations to procurement of hard to find food items.  By honing his skills working for Hyatt Hotels, Relais et Chateaux properties, independent restaurants, and as a private Chef for various Motorsports Teams, he insist on only supplying the very best quality products to his customers.

Currently in his position at Italco, he and his buying Team are constantly working directly with Cheese Manufactures both domestically and internationally to provide the very best selection of products to Cheese Counters, Hotels, and Restaurants. Continually offering a relevant curated selection of products, Italco Food Products sets the bar for Specialty Food in The Rocky Mountain Region.

Hunter Fike, ACS CCP®, Di Bruno Bros.

Hunter’s passion started as a stock boy at the old original Di Bruno Bros., a culinary institution in Philadelphia. While in college, working weekends, summers and holidays, he developed the passion for food and serving customers which is the hallmark of any great food retailer. After graduating in 2005, he worked his way up to assistant store manager with a daily focus on cheeses of the world and imported specialty charcuterie, as well as the many cheese accompaniments available throughout the store.

Through focused, one-on-one trainings with Jason Hinds and Daphne Zepos, icons in the cheese industry, Hunter honed his palate and ability to evaluate cheese.  He became the go-to cheesemonger to train new employees, as well as the local restaurant servers and chefs.

As General Manager of the original location, he solidified himself as an all-around product evaluator, suggesting products for all of the Di Bruno stores. In January of 2013, he was selected as the project manager of the new Di Bruno Bros. “store within a store” concept at the flagship Giant supermarket in Harrisburg, PA.

Hunter achieved ACS CCP® status in 2013, passing the exam conducted in Madison, WI.  He was instrumental in the creation of Di Bruno’s book, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings, consulting with the author throughout the process, and composing all of the sidebars.  Hunter now serves as the Manager of the Merchandising Department and as “Head Cheesemonger” for all Di Bruno Bros. stores.

Andy Fitgerell, ACS CCP®, KeHE Distributors

Andy Fitzgerrell was raised in Lafayette, CA and has been selling cheese since 2009. He started as a cheesemonger at Whole Foods Market. He became the specialist/buyer shortly thereafter and ran cheese islands at two different Salt Lake City stores for several years. He is part of the inaugural group of ACS Certified Cheese Professionals. He has also worked as cheese manager and one of the educators for Caputo’s Market (SLC, UT), as well as a lead cheesemonger for Harmon’s Grocery (SLC, UT). He is currently the lead regional merchandiser for KeHE Distributors, in the Monterrey Provisions “Fresh” program. Andy’s enthusiasm for cheese/chocolate/beer, and enjoyment of sharing this enthusiasm, is how this seminar came about.

Janet Fletcher, Planet Cheese

Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of more than two dozen books on food and beverage, including Cheese & Wine, Cheese & Beer, The Cheese Course and Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Janet publishes the weekly Planet Cheese blog, writes the cheese column for Specialty Food magazine and teaches cooking and cheese-appreciation classes around the country. She is the recipient of three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award for her journalism. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times and numerous national magazines, including Culture, Saveur and Food & Wine. (www.janetfletcher.com)

Mo Frechette, Zingerman’s Mail Order

Mo Frechette founded the online and catalog business for Zingerman’s. Zingerman’s Mail Order offers a range of American and European cheese, cut from whole wheels and shipped across America. Mo is also a partner in the importer Essex St. Cheese and the President of the Daphne Zepos Teaching Endowment.

Fernando Freire, ASSAFE

Fernando Freire Fernandéz, DVM, is the Executive Director of both the Spanish Assaf Breeders Association (ASSAF.E) and the Sheep and Goat Selection and Genetic Improvement Center (OVIGÉN) in the region of Castilla y León, Spain.

Fernando graduated from the University of Léon, Spain in Veterinary Medicine. Later, he obtained a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) in Madrid, Spain.

He started his professional life as a veterinarian, working for the national animal health management program, the scope of which was the eradication of small ruminant diseases in Spain. In 2003, he and other colleagues founded AVESCAL, a veterinarian cooperative with 250 field veterinarians working for both the public sector and the private companies. Fernando was the president of AVESCAL from 2003 to 2010. Later he contributed with his experience in developing strategic plans (AGBAR group) as well as third party quality audits for the agri-food processing business (SGS group).Later he was a teacher in the IE Business school of Madrid where he taught “Introduction to Management-Business plan”. In 2013 Fernando joined ASSAF.E and OVIGÉN. The Assaf breeders association has a total of 126 Assaf breeders under the genetic improvement program, involving more than 130,000 live animals registered at the pure breed flock book. OVIGÉN, the genetic improvement and semen collection center, commercializes live animals, semen and embryos from 6 different sheep and goat Spanish breeds.

ASSAF.E and OVIGÉN, in collaboration with Spanish Universities (León and Murcia) and research institutes (INIA- Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria), are part of several Spanish and European (EU) research projects in areas such as sheep and goat reproduction, animal health, sheep genetics and genomics.

Fernando dedicates most of his free time to his two daughters and his favorite hobby is bird watching and Aquariology.

Leigh Friend, Casselula Cheese & Wine Cafe

Leigh Friend is the Pastry Chef and condiment maker at Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe in New York City and the co-author of Composing the Cheese Plate. As a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute she created wedding cakes in the desert, served movies stars and has found a deep love for cheese in a cozy basement in Hells Kitchen, again.

Luis Gama, University of Lisbon

Luis Gama received a DVM degree from the University of Lisbon (1977) followed by MSc (1988) and PhD (1990) degrees in Animal Science (Animal Breeding and Genetics) from the University of Nebraska. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher in Animal Breeding and Genetics at the University of Guelph (1991). Between 1980 and 2011 he worked for the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture, initially in the Livestock Directorate and between 1999 and 2011 in the National Agrarian Research Institute. He was head of the Animal Breeding Department, which provided support to several selection programs in various livestock species. In addition, he was national coordinator for Animal Genetic Resources, representing Portugal in different international bodies (FAO, European Union) on issues regarding Animal Genetic Resources. Since 2011 Luis Gama has been full time Professor of the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Lisbon, teaching undergraduate courses in Animal Breeding and post-graduate courses in Statistics and Experimental Design. He has also been on the Advisory Boards of the “Centre International de Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Méditerranéennes” and of the “Programa Iberoamericano de Ciencia y Tecnologia para el Desarrollo.” Luis Gama has lectured various post-graduate courses, including 16 courses in 6 foreign countries. He has also been requested on several occasions to give presentations in congresses, and has been a guest speaker in 68 conferences, 44 of which were in Portugal, and 24 in various other foreign countries. As a result of his teaching and research activities, Luis has been the author or co-author of 2 books, 6 book chapters, 80 papers in peer-reviewed indexed Journals, 27 papers in non-indexed peer-reviewed journals and nearly 200 abstracts published in proceedings of scientific conferences. Luis has also been active in collaborating with breeders associations and individual producers, helping them in the optimization of their breeding programs.

Matthew Gill, THCheese

Matt has been a cheesemonger for almost 10 years.  He has worked at Cowgirl Creamery, Mission Cheese, The Cellar of San Clemente, The Cheese School of San Francisco, and is currently the Specialty Foods Director for the Wingtip Club in San Francisco.  He sources everything from cheese, caviar, Jamon Iberico, and other fine foods for them.  He also runs the front of house for the Cannaisseur Series dinners hosted by chef Coreen Carroll and has started a company with Juliana Clark and Trevor Milbery called THCheese which works to create farm-to-table sustainable edibles that bridge the gap between their love of fine food and fine cannabis.

David Gremmels, Rogue Creamery

David Gremmels is the President of Rogue Creamery, an artisan cheese company that produces the finest blue cheeses in the world. He is a leader in promoting and supporting American cheese and specialty foods, sustainability and organic agriculture. He resurrected a Northwest staple, Oregon Blue, and in the last 15 years introduced 20 popular brands including Smokey Blue & Caveman Blue. In 2016 Rogue Creamery transitioned all their cheeses to organic using milk from their own organic dairy.

David is a Board Director of the ACS American Cheese Education Foundation, former President and Chairman of the American Cheese Society, and current Ambassadeur, Vice President, and Secretary /Treasurer of the North American Chapter of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers – Confrérie de Saint-Uguzon.

In 2015, the Specialty Food Association honored him with the NASFT’s Leadership Award and in 2016 David was elected to the Specialty Food Association’s Board of Directors. David has shown leadership internationally and nationally within the specialty food industry and the artisan cheese industry as well as leadership on a local basis within the business community, the regional specialty food industry, and the community at large. In 2012 and again in 2016 David was appointed to The Governor’s Sustainability Board of Oregon. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Jackson County. He is the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Marketing award from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. In 2006 he received the United Way of Jackson County’s Community Spirit Award. In 2014 he moved Rogue Creamery corporate licensing forward into becoming Oregon’s first business to be registered as a Social Benefit Company.

Greg Hardin, ACS CCP®, Gourmet Foods International

Greg Hardin had been a teacher and photographer for 9 years when he succumbed in 2013 to a lifelong love of cheese and began working for Gourmet Foods International (GFI). This gave him the opportunity to become an official cheese geek. With GFI he has worked with both large retail customers and small food service accounts to create and manage cheese programs and other specialty offerings. In addition, for the last two years he has been very active in working with breweries and retailers to create beer and cheese pairings and events.

Louella Hill

Louella Hill is a cheese generalist. She writes about cheese (Kitchen Creamery, Chronicle Books), she teaches cheese and cheesemaking (San Francisco Milk Maid), she makes cheese (Narragansett Creamery) and she even does cheese community organizing (California Artisan Cheese Guild). Her current cheese project is the Southern Cheese Map (www.southerncheeses.org), an effort to document and celebrate the bounty and quality of cheese made in Southern and Mid-Atlantic states.

Glenn Hills, Columbia Cheese

Glenn’s cheese experience began early at his parents’ cheese shop, Hills Home Cured Cheese, in Lansing, Michigan.

His first memory as a cheese professional occurred at age four, when Glenn performed his first in-store demo with his older sister, sampling chocolate cheese and beef summer sausage. While his sister ate all her samples and made herself ill to avoid speaking with customers, Glenn learned to balance his fear of adults with admiration of good tasting products.

In 2007, Glenn moved to New York City, where he attended Columbia University and worked in the cheese department at Greene Grape Provisions in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Enamored with the easier access to great cheese in NYC compared to Michigan, Glenn deepened his appreciation of the industry, attending his first ACS seminar in 2009 as a recipient of the John Crompton Scholarship for Retailers.

Later that year, a search for the Swiss cheese Forsterkäse led Glenn to a new Brooklyn-based cheese distributor, Food Matters Again, a company he eventually joined in 2010.

Four years later, Glenn moved closer in the supply chain to Forsterkäse at Columbia Cheese, an importer based in Long Island City, NY. Today, Glenn enjoys carrying the banner for single village dairies throughout the so-called Alpine hay belt; he occasionally misses easy access to chocolate cheese and beef summer sausage.

Rebecca Holstein, CSK Food Enrichment

Rebecca is a technical sales/service manager for CSK’s line of cultures for cheese and fresh fermented products, which includes Dairy Safe, Flavor Wheel, and specialized cultures for American, Swiss and Italian cheeses.   Hohlstein began her career at Marschall Products, where she spent four years in Technical Service and one year in Process Development. In a hiatus from the dairy business, she taught Fermentation Technology at Madison Area Technical College and Bacteriology of Foods at UW-Madison, and had her own food safety consulting business. After seven years of teaching and consulting, Rebecca returned to the dairy scene as Technical Account Manager at DSM. Just prior to joining CSK,  Rebecca served as Senior Scientist with Christian Hansen.

Allison Hooper, Vermont Creamery

A pioneer of artisan cheesemaking in the United States, Allison Hooper is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Vermont Creamery. For over 30 years, Allison has been at the helm of the artisan cheese industry, introducing European-style fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter, and crème fraiche to the American palate. One of the first artisan cheesemakers in the United States, Hooper and Bob Reese co-founded Vermont Creamery in 1984. What began with a $2,400 capital investment has grown into a nationally-recognized brand and mission-driven business.

A former president of the American Cheese Society (ACS) and the founding president of the Vermont Cheese Council, Allison has been a voice for U.S. cheesemakers and a mentor to fellow entrepreneurs in the specialty food industry. She was named one of the “Most innovative women in food and drink” by Food & Wine and Forbes Magazines in 2015. In 2016, Vermont Creamery was named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont by Vermont Business Magazine.

When she’s not traveling coast to coast teaching about cheese, speaking at industry events, or championing product innovation at the Creamery, Allison can be found on her 62-acre family farm in Brookfield with her husband, Don, and sons, Miles, Sam, Jay and grandson, Olcott.

Kristin Jackson, Author, It’s Not You, It’s Brie

Author of “It’s Not You, It’s Brie: Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese,” Kirstin Jackson is a cheese and wine writer, consultant, and educator. After managing a wine bar for ten years while writing and teaching classes, Kirstin recently launched her own private home-cheesemaking, pairing and consulting business. She loves sharing her favorite Alpine-style wheels and Jurassic wines as much as she adores teaching people how to stretch mozzarella into burrata. From visiting Comté caves to wandering through Chenin Blanc vineyards in the Loire Valley, Kirstin also travels extensively. Spending three months cutting curds in England and washing funky cheese rinds in Ireland inspired her to start teaching her home cheese making classes. She visits domestic cheesemakers any chance she gets too, and blames her parents, who took her on trips to the California dairy country at a very young age for feeding her obsession.

Jeff Jirik, Caves of Faribault/ Prairie Farms

Jeff grew up on a third generation dairy farm in southern MN. After gaining a BA in Biology he began his career in cheese working at the plant that is now Caves of Faribault as a “Cheese Scraper.” The plant and natural sandstone caves began as a brewery in 1856. In 1936 the Caves became America’s first blue cheese plant. In 2001 Jeff purchased the plant and Caves with his wife Brenda and two partners. Their first cheese was the award-winning “St. Pete’s Select®“ raw milk blue cheese.

The Caves of Faribault went on to innovate a number of handmade and premium aged cheeses, several of which have earned national distribution. These handmade artisan cheeses have won a number of national and international awards including WCMA World Championship Champion, NMPF Grand Champion, and a 3rd Place in ACS’s 2016 Best of Show. In August of 2010, Caves of Faribault became a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss Valley Farms Cooperative (which later became part of Prairie Farms coop). Today, Jeff serves as Vice President of Quality and Product Development for the Cheese Division of Prairie Farms.

In his free time Jeff owns and operates a Certified Organic Farm, producing corn, and milling oats and food grade soybeans. He is a member of the Sustainable Farming Association of MN and Slow Foods. He currently serves as President of the American Cheese Society and has served as a past Director of the North Central Cheese Industry Association. A licensed Wisconsin cheesemaker, he also belongs to the WI Specialty Cheesemakers Association and the WI Cheesemakers Association.

Tim Joseph, Maple Hill Creamery

Tim Joseph is the Founding Farmer of Maple Hill Creamery, the preeminent organic grass-fed dairy brand in the US. In 2004, Tim and his wife Laura started milking 64 cows on their 250-acre dairy farm in Central New York, with no prior farming experience. By 2007 they had transitioned their herd to both certified organic and 100% grass-fed, and in 2009 Tim created the company’s hallmark “creamline” yogurt on his kitchen stovetop. Tim remains committed to building the company’s 100% grass-fed organic milk supply, known as the Maple Hill Milkshed, and creating the healthiest, highest-quality dairy products for all.

Charles Kalish, Food Safety Guides

Charlie is Managing Member of Food Safety Guides, Senior Director for Food Safety at UC San Diego Extension and a consultant and trainer to numerous food businesses around the U.S. and internationally. An experienced industry professional in food manufacturing and former Fulbright scholar, Charlie is an expert in all facets of food safety plan development, from hazard analysis research and project management to plan acceleration through use of cloud-based tools. In 2015, Charlie became one of the country’s first and youngest FSPCA Lead Instructors for Human Food. Charlie is also an FSPCA Lead Instructor for Animal Food.

Michael Kalish, Food Safety Guides

Michael Kalish began his food career in commercial beekeeping and wine crush work. He was the first American to receive formal training in dairy and meat processing in the Piedmont, Italy, at l’istituto lattiero caseario e delle tecnologie agroalimentari. He has since worked for, and trained under, some of Europe’s finest artisan cheese makers and affineurs (professional cheese agers), including Mons, Fromager et Affineur (FR) and Luigi Guffanti (IT). In the USA, Michael managed operations for Artisanal Premium Cheese in NYC, taught affinage workshops around the world, and provides training and consulting across the United State, Canada and Australia. Michael is an FSPCA Lead Instructor for the Preventive Controls for Human Food and Animal Food rules. He is also, along with his twin brother and business partner, Charlie Kalish, a Food Network “Chopped” Finalist and “Great Food Truck Race” (Series 7) Champion. Michael co-starred in his own Food Network Show, “Big Cheese”.

Dr. Kerry Kaylegian, Ph.D, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Kerry E. Kaylegian is the Dairy Foods Research & Extension Associate at the Pennsylvania State University, Department of Food Science. Kerry provides technical support to the dairy industry and delivers outreach programs focused on improving the safety and quality of dairy products. Kerry directs and lectures in short courses on dairy Preventive Controls and food safety, cheese making, dairy basics for artisan processors, pasteurizer operations, cultured products, and fundamentals of food science, and assists with the ice cream short courses. Her research focuses on improving quality and safety of artisanal cheeses, and on the functional and nutritional properties of milk fat as an ingredient. Kerry judges dairy products at several national competitions, chairs the Pennsylvania Farm Show Cheese Competition, and coaches the Penn State Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Team. She is the faculty advisor for the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Food and Environmental Sanitarians (PAMFES), the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild, and the Penn State Cheese Club. Kerry received the 2015 American Dairy Science Association Foundation Scholar Award for research and teaching in Dairy Foods. Her degrees are in Food Science with an emphasis on dairy products, she has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowship from Cornell University.

Mary Keehn, Cypress Grove Cheese

Mary Keehn founded Cypress Grove Chevre in 1983 after almost twenty years of raising and showing Alpine dairy goats.  The company began as a farmstead operation with Mary and just one part time employee. In November 2004, after more than four year of planning and building, Cypress Grove built and moved to their new creamery in Arcata.  With the new space came many new challenges and opportunities.  In August of 2010, Mary cemented a long time relationship with Emmi USA by entrusting them with the future of the company.  Since that time Cypress Grove has been able to return to its roots with the production of their own milk, expand the creamery, and begin implementation of Global food safety standards.

Tia Keenan

Tia Keenan is a New York City-based cook, cheese specialist, writer, and cheese industry consultant.  She writes the “Cheese Wisely” column for the Wall Street Journal and is the author of The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude (Rizzoli, 2016). Her pioneering restaurant-based cheese programs reinvented the cheese course and distinguished her as a creative force in the food industry. She oversaw the cheese program for The Modern, at the Museum of Modern Art, and pioneered the “cheese bar” concept by opening New York City’s first cheese bar in 2007.  Her work combining an international selection of cheeses and unique house-made condiments shifted the paradigm of what a cheese plate could be, inspiring countless chefs, restaurateurs, and cheese professionals to re-think and expand their own programs.  Over her career Keenan has worked on a broad range of creative, food-based projects, from concept development for Walt Disney and Bien Cuit Bakery, to restaurant and retail programs for Murray’s Cheese, The Queens Kickshaw, and Lucy’s Whey. Keenan’s work has been featured in various media outlets, including Food & Wine, The New Yorker, and The Food Network. She lives in Queens, New York with her husband – celebrated sommelier Hristo Zisovski – and her son.

Mateo Kehler, Jasper Hill Farm

Mateo Kehler started Jasper Hill Farm with his brother Andy in 2003 where they produce a wide range of cheeses from the milk of their herd of 45 Ayrshire cows. In 2008 they started a new venture, the Cellars at Jasper Hill, a 22,000 square foot underground cheese ripening facility, to lower the barriers to entry for new cheesemakers by maturing, marketing and selling cheeses, managing logistics and administration and providing technical support to local producers. The Cellars at Jasper Hill is committed to developing economic mechanisms to keep the working landscape in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom working, and delivering deliciousness is a principle component in this effort. Mateo lives on the farm in Greensboro, VT with his wife Angie and children Reed and Zola.

Brian Keyser, Cassellula

Brian Keyser is the founder and proprietor of New York City’s Casellula Cheese & Wine Café and Pittsburgh’s Casellula @ Alphabet City. He has been a cheese evangelist and educator for over a decade and has been a pioneer in the evolution of the cheese plate in American restaurants, pushing the boundaries of what is paired with cheeses and how cheese plates are presented.

Previous to Casellula, he worked as a server, manager and fromager at some of the best restaurants in New York, including Union Square Café, Blue Hill Stone Barns, Gotham Bar and Grill and Al Di La. He developed his passion for hand-made cheese at Chanterelle (James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in the Country) and went on to be the opening Fromager at The Modern (James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the Country).

Brian is a member of the American Cheese Society (ACS) where he was actively involved in the six-year-long process of creating the Certified Cheese Professional Exam, the first and only certification for cheese professionals in the United States, working on the committee that created the Body of Knowledge upon which the test was based and writing questions for the exam. He is chairman of the ACS scholarship committee, co-chair of the 2018 ACS conference and has been a moderator and panelist for multiple educational sessions at ACS conferences.

His book, “Composing the Cheese Plate: Recipes, Pairing and Platings For the Inventive Cheese Course,” co-authored by Casellula’s pastry chef, Leigh Friend, was published by Running Press in 2016.

Karrie Kimble, Philosophy Foods

Philosophy Foods is founded by David Yourd and Karrie Kimble. The couple previously ran an import & distribution company in Chicago for 18 years. From very humble beginnings they had a reputation of having intense passion and knowledge of the products they represented which translated into very rapid growth of their company. In 2012, their company was sold in order to take advantage of an existing infrastructure to facilitate that growth. Dave and Karrie remained with the acquiring company for one year to oversee the transition.

Today Dave and Karrie’s focus is building the national business of Losada olives and O-Med Extra Virgin Olive Oil through Philosophy Foods. On the side they lend their expertise and skills to their operating partners in 2 other companies, Regalis Foods in NYC and Regalis Texas in Dallas, with a 4th business on the way. Their energy is as strong as ever as it is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the specialty food industry. With such demand and growth, they feel it is extremely important not to forget the roots of the philosophies in which the industry was born.

Dr. Paul Kindstedt, Ph.D., University of Vermont

Paul Kindstedt is a Professor of Food Science in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont.  He obtained his PhD from Cornell University under the mentorship of Frank Kosikowski in 1986 before joining the Vermont faculty the same year.  He has authored and co-authored numerous research articles and invited conference proceedings on dairy chemistry and cheese science, as well as many book chapters.  He is also the author of the book, Cheese and Culture: A history of cheese and its place in western civilization (2012), and senior author of American Farmstead Cheese (2005) with the Vermont Cheese Council.    Kindstedt received the Pfizer Award for Cheese and Cultured Products Research (1993), and the Kraft Foods Teaching Award in Dairy Manufacturing (2008), from the American Dairy Science Association, and is currently a member of the ADSA Board of Directors. Kindstedt also served as the Associate Director of the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center from 2001 to 2004, and as the Co-Director of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese from 2004 to 2013.  Kindstedt currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Dairy Industry Association and is a lifetime honorary member of the Vermont Cheese Council.


Ivan Larcher graduated from ENIL (the National Dairy School of Surgères, France) in 1999. He then joined the Rhodia Food Company to work as technical consultant in North East Asia for two years. Returning to France in 2001, Ivan then worked as a production manager in a goat cheese factory near the Loire Valley for over a year and then joined the Carmejane Cheese Center – the Farmstead and Artisan cheese training institute located in Provence – to work as Education Manager and technical consultant until 2006, when he launched the Larcher Consulting company. Since then, Ivan has provided technical support and training for farmstead and artisan cheese makers in the USA, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and Australia.
In 2013 Julie and Ivan Larcher decided to reduce Ivan’s international travel and so built their own cheese making operation on their farm, l’Or Blanc (‘white gold’) located on the northern outskirts of France’s Massif Central. In order to be in total control of the milk quality entering the cheese vats, they have established a herd of 10 Jersey heifers on 35 hectares, refusing to use any type of fermented food in the animal’s feed. The particular composition of the Jersey milk permits them to produce butter and cream, set and stirred yogurts, lactic soft and hard cheeses; commercial production started early May 2014.

Carolyn Stromberg, Righteous Cheese

Carolyn Stromberg is the founder and proprietor of Righteous Cheese, an independent cheese shop in DC’s vibrant food hall, Union Market. Her passion for gastronomy has inspired her to continually create new food experiences for DC food-lovers over her 10+ years in the retail, restaurant and service industry.

Carolyn, whose first word was “cheese,” came to her love of artisanal cheese by grabbing a minute here or there to stuff her face full of delicious cheeses while serving at one of DC’s best restaurants. Her cheese experiences have since included retail, wholesale, restaurant service, and teaching about cheese & wine/beer pairing. Her first cheese-centric gig was behind the counter at Cowgirl Creamery in 2006, learning from the best. She then went on to create a wholesale program for local cheese shop, Cheesetique, in 2007; run the Gaylord National Harbor’s cheese cart as maître d’fromage, in 2008; and founded The Cheese Course, offering cheese classes, events and consulting in DC, in 2010.
In 2012, Carolyn opened Righteous Cheese: a 200-sq-ft, cut-to-order shop focusing on unique & uncommon cheeses that are handmade locally, across the US and throughout Europe. Located in a rebuilt yet historic market that houses DC’s best charcuterie, spice shop, bread bakery, wine shop, espresso bar, fishmonger, knife shop, oyster bar, butcher shop, and more, Righteous Cheese strives to be best of class as well – to bring the highest quality, most interesting and unique cheeses and specialty products to guests with a welcoming and easygoing guidance.

Carolyn has been featured in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living, Culture Magazine, Southern Living, Fox News, and The Washingtonian; and has made several television appearances, notably on ABC’s “The Chew”, PBS, WTTG, and WJLA.

Mariana Marques de Almeida, Ms. J & Co.

Mariana Marques de Almeida
 is a dairy science and cheese consultant for the Sheep and Goat industry. Mariana graduated from the Agronomic Institute at the Technical University of Lisbon in Agricultural Science. She later obtained her Master’s degree in Animal Production from the Veterinary University of Lisbon. She has dedicated her life to improving and expanding the Sheep and Goat milk industry; from milk production to milk quality to cheese making. Her work began in Portugal where Mariana worked as a field technician for a large Assaf sheep dairy farm. She then began consulting for several dairy sheep flocks and small artisan cheese plants. After 15 years, Mariana moved to the south of Spain in 2007 to instead focus on Spanish goat breeds. Since 2012 she has been working with American institutions, for instance CDR and WCMA, by sharing her knowledge about Portuguese and Spanish sheep and goat milk cheeses. In 2015, she embraced a new project and moved to the US. Mariana now resides in Monroe, Wisconsin, the heart of dairy country. Mariana, along with partners, started Ms. J and Co., which is dedicated to consulting and helping develop the Sheep and Goat dairy Industry in the US.
You may contact Mariana via email at [email protected]

Cole Mathers, ACS CCP®, Restaurant Gary Danko

Cole grew up in the restaurant industry and by the age of 16, he had decided that he would never work in another restaurant again. He studied Computer Science in college, and needed some spending cash, so he went back to his roots and waited tables until he got his first “9-5” gig managing IT for a small office. He decided to move to San Francisco to hunt for his dream IT position, and to pay the bills in the meantime, he applied for a position at Restaurant Gary Danko. His concept of a restaurant professional was quickly flipped upside down. Humbled by this new world, he became hungry to gather as much knowledge as he could about service, food, wine, and of course, cheese! Cole’s first focus was on wine; he was fascinated by the world’s great wines and wine regions. He continued to study and passed his certified exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Around this time, the opportunity to run the cheese program at Restaurant Gary Danko fell in his lap. Since he was thirsty for knowledge, this was an opportunity he could not pass up. There were similarities between the great wines of the world and the great cheeses of the world, and this peaked his interest even further. Every bit of knowledge he gained led to another question, and before he knew it, his mentors were coming to him with their own questions about cheese. He soon felt that he was more knowledgeable about cheese than wine, and wondered if there was a certification one could attain in the cheese industry. Scouring the internet, he found the American Cheese Society and the Certified Cheese Professional® Exam. He proudly earned his ACS CCP® credential in January of 2016.

Jonathon McDowell, ACS CCP®, The Aniata Cheese Company

Jonathan McDowell began his career in cheese at Whole Foods Market in 2006 while studying Cultural Sociology at The University of California, San Diego. Motivated by his education and the cultural shift in the USA food movement, he skipped out on Law School to follow his passion in cheese. Jonathan was among the group of inagural CCP test takers in 2012, passing the exam. He is now the General Manager at The Aniata Cheese Company.

Eric Meredith, Neal’s Yard Dairy

Eric Meredith stepped into the food world as a dishwasher in a hospital kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts at the age of 14 and before he knew it, he was the sous chef and applying to Culinary schools across the country. He attended Johnson & Wales University to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts and subsequently a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Nutrition.  He chose to further his education by becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist while completing a 12 month internship in NYC and full time work at the Marriott Marquis.  A brief stint in clinical dietetics at Harlem Hospital sent him running for ‘real food’ again and he found himself in front of Murray’s Cheese shop on Bleeker Street staring at a help wanted sign. That was the first step down the rabbit hole, and he’s been falling deeper into cheese since. Eric quickly gained responsibility at Murray’s and developed relationships with foreign and domestic cheese makers. The caves below ground were designed by the world renowned affineur Herve Mons, who was a frequent visitor of the shop. Eric jumped at the opportunity to travel to France and intern with Herve, who later offered him a job. It wasn’t long before he learned French and became Herve’s right hand man helping him design his tunnel in Ambierle and running the day-to-day operations at the caves in St Haon le Chatel. 6 years in France afforded Eric an opportunity to learn cheese making from the best artisans all over France and affinage from Herve and his network of European affineurs. Eric’s next big project was with Wegmans Food Markets in Rochester, NY where he designed, built and managed their affinage facility while developing cheeses with domestic and foreign cheese makers. Eric now works with Neal’s Yard Dairy as the project manager facilitating the design and move to their new aging and distribution facility in London. Eric also started a consulting business helping cheese makers, affineurs and retailers all over the world design, troubleshoot and fine tune cheese making and affinage programs and facilities.

Gina Mode, Center for Dairy Research

Gina’s love of the dairy industry began when she was raised on a fifth generation family dairy farm outside Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.  She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science and a Master of Business Administration Degree in addition to Wisconsin Buttermaker and Cheesemaker Licenses.  Gina became interested in cheese while completing an internship with the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in 1990.  She worked in Quality Assurance at the Swiss Colony in Monroe, Wisconsin and the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before returning to the CDR in 2005.  As a member of the Cheese Industry and Applications Group at CDR, Gina works closely with cheese brokers, ingredient suppliers, and manufacturers – from farmstead to commercial.  She is involved with everything from cheese trials and troubleshooting to short courses and outreach efforts.  Gina particularly enjoys working with cheesemakers to develop new specialty cheeses.  She has served as a technical judge for the American Cheese Society, North American Jersey Cheese Awards, Pennsylvania Farm Show, United States Championship Cheese Contest, and World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.

Greg O’Neill, Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

After a successful 20-year global career in marketing for some of the world’s great consumer brands, in 2004 Greg and his life and business partner Ken Miller decided that the next chapter of their careers would involve something for which they had a passion: handcrafted food and wine and the places and people that create them. Through his travels to forty-plus countries, Greg has come to understand that food and drink are unifiers that transcend borders and serve as a common language that all can enjoy.

At Pastoral, Greg serves as COO, and is responsible for marketing, operations, and procurement. He is also a past president and board chair for the American Cheese Society. He served as co-chair of the 2008 Annual Conference in Chicago and currently serves on the Marketing & Communications Committee. He has also served as an aesthetic judge for the ACS annual Judging & Competition.

Greg is also very involved with the Specialty Food Association (SFA), where he serves on its Board of Directors, its Budget & Audit Committee, as well as its Retailer Network Council. He also serves on the editorial advisory board for Culture Magazine, is on the Board of the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award Foundation, and is a founding member of the Good Food Retailer Collaborative.

Before starting Pastoral and its family of businesses, Greg’s professional experience included domestic and global executive marketing positions with Motorola, Colgate-Palmolive, Verizon/GTE, Polaroid and Macy’s Department Stores. He holds an MBA in Marketing from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and bachelors’ degrees from Rutgers University.

Rachel Perez, ACS, CCP®, Tony’s Fine Foods

Rachel has been an active member of the American cheese community for over 12 years, having worked in retail, wholesale and import distribution in Boston, New York, London and California respectively.  She has been a member of the American Cheese Society’s Judging and Competition committee for 4 years and has served as Official Conference Cheesemonger.  She is a Certified Cheese Professional and Garde et Juré of the Guilde International des Fromagers.  She is fluent in french and enjoys jet setting, cooking and eating in her free time.

Thomas Perry, Shelburne Farms

Thomas Perry has been part of specialty cheese in one form or another for the past decade. He worked primarily in retail at notable shops like Formaggio Kitchen and Farmstead in New England. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award. He traveled to Europe to study the cultivation of native cultures used for cheesemaking and how those traditions could be applied here in the United States. He currently works for Shelburne Farms in Vermont. He lives in Vermont with his wife, Mary and their two dogs, Doug and Maya.

Pat Polowsky, ACS CCP®, University of Vermont

Pat Polowsky is a graduate student at the University of Vermont studying crystallization in cheese. In his free time, Pat runs cheesescience.org.

Dave Potter, Dairy Connection Inc.

Dave Potter has been involved in the food and dairy industry for the past 36 years. Dave grew up on a dairy farm in NE Iowa. He attended South Dakota State University and earned a BS degree in Dairy Science, majoring in Dairy Product Manufacturing. He spent his first 22 years employed with Nordica International/Rhodia Foods with primary responsibilities in the technical application of cultures and other ingredients used in the making of fermented milks and cheeses. His focus was with fermented milks and cottage cheese. The past 14 years he has worked with his wife, Cathy, owner of Dairy Connection, Inc., Madison, WI, to provide cultures and enzymes, as well as technical application support, to farmstead and specialty cheesemakers across the US. He has served as a technical judge as well as a presenter for past ACS conferences.

Kelly Prior, Litehouse, Inc.

Kelly offers more than 20 years’ of business management and financial experience. His career began with PriceWaterhouseCoopers where he served as Manager of Business Assurance. From there, Kelly moved onto higher education as Director of Internal Audit for Eastern Washington University (his alma mater) before gaining Controller and CFO experience in the Medical industry.

After joining Litehouse in 2002, Kelly worked his way up to CFO by 2005 and became an Executive Vice President in 2010. It is important to Kelly to be a leader in the local community. He is currently on the Executive Board and the Treasurer for Panhandle Alliance for Education, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Sandpoint Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bonner County Economic Development Corp.

Kelly’s family includes his wife Diane and two sons, Jackson and Parker.

Vince Razionale, Grafton Village Cheese

Vince Razionale started his career as a cheesemonger and manager at Formaggio Kitchen, in Cambridge, MA. After several years on the counter, he moved to northern Vermont to work for Jasper Hill, where his role included sales, inventory management, purchasing, and tasting. He recently took a new position at Grafton Village Cheese as the Director of Cave Program and Sensory Analysis, where he oversees the cave operations and grading program.

David Rogers, Standard Market

David started working in cheese by accident, a job at Whole Foods Market placed him behind a cheese counter for the first time in his life and he was soon hooked. The lure of an aging room drew him to Standard Market, there developing ACS award winning cheeses with several Midwest Creameries.

Miguel Rolo, Busqui

Miguel Rolo is a Portuguese native and has a degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Lisbon. He has been a cheesemaker for the last twenty years, either in artisanal or industrial cheeses, with a focus on sheep’s milk (raw, pasteurized or blended with goat’s and cow’s milks).

He served as the Portuguese representative at the European project “New marketing strategies for cheeses with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)”. The project included 25 European cheeses with PDO qualification. One of the main scopes was to taste and define the sensorial characteristics for the future training of the taste panels needed for the PDO cheeses certification. Presently, he is working for Busqui, a Spanish company which produces micro-perforated plastic cheese molds.

Judith Schad, Capriole

Judy Schad, owner and founder of Capriole in Greenville IN,  spent her summers on her grandparent’s southern Indiana farm, learning to cook and appreciate fresh, wonderful food, simply, but lovingly, prepared.  After marrying, she taught English for several years before having three children and heading back to school to work on a PhD in Renaissance Literature.  In 1977, she and husband Larry, moved the family to a hill farm just north of Louisville and until 2013 she managed a herd of 500 goats and made cheese on the family farm. She’s been both a speaker and cheese judge at international conferences and events in Italy and France, served as board member, conference chair, and vice-president of the American Cheese Society, board member of the American Dairy Goat Association, member of Women Chefs and Restauranteurs and recipient of their ‘Outstanding in Her Field Award’.  She has achieved the status of Maitre du Fromage the highest honor accorded to a cheesemaker in the international Guilde de Fromagers.

Dr. Helen Scharfman, Ph.D., New York University

Helen received her BS degree in Biopsychology from Vassar College and her PhD in Pharmacology from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. She then trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the Dept. of Neurosurgery at the University of Washington and was a Research Associate at SUNY Stony Brook. She started her own research laboratory at Columbia University/Helen Hayes Hospital and was Director of the Center for Neural Recovery at Helen Hayes Hospital until moving to the Nathan Kline Institute and New York University. She is currently a Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience & Physiology at New York University Langone Medical Center and Senior Scientist at the Nathan Kline Institute. Her research interests are focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying memory and behavior, as well as the causes of diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. She has over 100 peer-reviewed papers and has edited 5 books in the field of neuroscience. Her laboratory serves as the location of research and a training site for individuals at all stages of their careers. She serves on several national and international committees to oversee research funding, standards, and organization. For additional details see the laboratory website, scharfmanlab.com.

Paul Scharfman, Specialty Cheese Company, Inc.

1991-present–President, Specialty Cheese Company. The firm produces Just the Cheese brand Crunchy Baked Cheese snacks and Frying Cheeses, Bharatma brand Indian cheeses, La VacaRica brand Hispanic cheeses, Rich Cow brand Arabic cheeses, and other specialty cheeses. The firm has 160 employees in one manufacturing plant.

2008-present—President, Getting Better, LLC. The firm’s mission is to teach people who suffer from chronic illness and obesity the skills to enjoy getting better. The firm’s protocol is in clinical trials with regional hospitals and health providers.

1979-1991–General Foods, Oscar Mayer Foods, Louis Kemp Seafood Company. I held a series of increasingly responsible positions in Sales and Marketing positions in these subsidiaries of Philip Morris culminating with positions as Marketing Manager for the Oscar Mayer brand and Sales and Marketing Manager for the Louis Kemp Seafood Company.

1972-1977–Founder and President of N&N Enterprises, Inc. The firm was a wilderness camp I started when I was a senior in High School that took children age 12-17 on hiking, canoeing, biking, and skiing trips from two days to eight weeks in duration. The company grew to have 30 staff with over 250 participants.

Vicki Semo Scharfman, Specialty Cheese Company, Inc.

Vicki Semo Scharfman is a Co-Owner of Specialty Cheese Company, and is on its Board of Directors. She served as the Marketing Manager for 10 years, was the Co-Packing Manager for fluid products, and currently is a training educator and leader for the company’s management staff. Prior to that she did independent marketing research consulting. Her work has included positions in product management at Colgate-Palmolive Company, program administration and research at Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, and retail management at Filene’s, Inc. She is a founder, Program Developer, and Vice President of Getting Better, LLC.

Vicki’s community work includes 18 years working with the United Way of Dane County (WI), including 6 years on the Board of Directors, and serving as Chair of the Needs/Allocation Committee, Chair of the 75th Anniversary Committee, and Chair, Agency Relations Committee . She served for 10 years on the Leadership Committee of the Madison (WI) Schools of Hope, and was a member of the City/County/United Way Joint Task on Neighborhoods Committee. She also served as a Crisis Counselor for runaway and homeless youth and their families at Briarpatch, a non-profit.

Vicki’s educational background includes: Yale University, BA Philosophy, 1973,
Harvard University, Ed.M Administration, Planning & Social Policy, 1974, and
Columbia University, MBA Marketing, 1983 .

She has published: Living Well with Chronic Illness, Self-Published CD, 2006.
The Youth Incentive Entitlement Pilot Project: Tier II Program Outcomes, MDRC, 1981.

Stephanie Skinner, Culture Magazine

A serial entrepreneur and compulsive publisher, Stephanie Skinner co-founded culture: the word on cheese with her cheesemonger sister Lassa, and cheese expert Kate Arding in 2008. In love with the cheese world and its people, Stephanie’s magazine has become the definitive chronicle of the personalities, businesses and animals who bring this funky ambrosia to life. Publishing culture has allowed Steph to travel the the world, indulging her endless appetite for conversation and learning. And beer. And wine. And cheese. Before culture, Stephanie got her start at Inc. Magazine and also launched a number of magazines. She lives in Massachusetts with a flamenco-loving husband and a small white, extremely willful, dog.

Russell Smith, Dairy Australia

For the past 20 years Russell has been involved at the consumer end of the cheese industry. As a retailer and distributor in Canberra he forged a reputation as an advocate for the Australian cheese industry. He is passionate about cheese and the industry.
Russell is a qualified cheese maker who consults to cheese makers in Australia and New Zealand. He continues his cheese education by making small trial batches of cheese with milk from a friends small jersey herd throughout the summer months.

He has been judging dairy products in the major competitions in Australia since 1998.
He is the Chief Judge for the Australian Grand Dairy Awards and also the chief judge for the Royal Queensland and Royal Perth Cheese and Dairy Shows. He is also the master judge for the New Zealand Cheese Awards.

He judged the World Cheese Championships in Wisconsin in 2012, 2014, and 2016 and the American Cheese Society Competition in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He has also judged the Global Cheese Awards in Frome, Somerset in the UK.
He continues his sensory education programs for cheese judges, cheese makers and retailers in Australia and internationally.

Jason Sobocinski, Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro

Jason Sobocinski, owner of Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro, was born and raised in New Haven, CT. He attended Providence College, where he earned his BA in Marketing and minored in film. After an 8 month trek through Australia and a failed attempt at a desk job, Jason moved back to New Haven and began catering and taking a heavy interest in his favorite subject: food. Cheese naturally became his focus and passion.

After working in restaurants as everything from a waiter to a baker, cook and manager, he continued his food education at Boston University gaining a Master’s degree in Gastronomy. During his time in Boston he worked for the prestigious Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge learning cheese, its roots in culture and its rich stories.

Since 2008 Jason has owned and operated Caseus Fromagerie Bistro in New Haven — a cheese shop and bistro. In 2009 with his brother Tom he opened his first food truck The Caseus Cheese Truck which has been featured on The Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel. Jason starred in The Big Cheese, a Cooking Channel series that aired in 2011 and still runs on occasion today featuring farms and restaurants that produce and cook cheese. Ordinary (Conde Nast Traveler top 30 Bars in the World) a craft cocktail bar that of course serves cheese, The Mystic Cheese Co. (ACS awarded cheeses) and Black Hog Brewing Co (World Beer Cup Gold Medal Winner) are all businesses Jason has helped to start and currently operates along with some amazing partners.

Jason lives in Hamden CT with his 2 sons, and daughter, a lovely wife who supports his many endeavors while working full time as a teacher, and a large dog named Brisket. He loves BBQ, beekeeping, riding motorcycles, cooking for his friends and family and telling the stories of beer and cheese.

Dean Sommer, Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research

Dean graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a B.S. in Biology, Chemistry minor and the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a M.S. in Food Science. Dean then worked for 5 years in the UW-Madison Dairy Science Department as a research assistant working on bovine mastitis. Dean then joined Alto Dairy Cooperative where he worked for 18 years as V.P. Technical Services and later V.P. Operations. In 2003 Dean joined the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research on the UW-Madison campus where he serves as a Cheese Technologist working with cheese manufacturers as well as company users of cheese in the retail, food service and industrial channels.

Bill Stephenson, DPI Specialty Foods

Bill Stephenson is the Director of Cheese Training at DPI Specialty Foods where he’s worked since 2006 (the cheese doesn’t just train itself, you know). Bill developed DPI’s Cheese Pro training series which was the first to be accorded the title “ACS CCP Authorized Corporate Trainer” via the American Cheese Society’s Authorized Educator program. Prior to focusing exclusively on education, Bill spent several years coordinating cheese importing for DPI Specialty Foods. Bill earned his M.S. in Food Science from the University of California, Davis (where he first met the lovely Ms. Ann Colonna) along with a Diploma. He has a Brew certification from the Institute of Brewers and Distillers in 2003, has served as the Committee Chair for the ACS Certification Committee since 2015 and is a member of the board of directors for the Cheese Importers Association of America.

Jim Wallace, New England Cheesemaking Supply

Beginning in 1978 Jim has worked as a fine art photographer focusing on extraordinary light in wild places both in the US an Europe. This eventually lead him to the mountains and valleys of Southern Europe and the U.K. and the people making their traditional cheeses. By the early 90s his focus (both pictorially and personally) had turned to one of people and process. These connections eventually spawned an interest to make his own cheese and develop his own cheese lab and cave in Massachusetts in which to apply what he had been learning about the traditional processes.

By early 2001 Ricki Carrol from New England Cheesemaking Supply had encouraged him to join the team as their technical person and to begin teaching advanced workshops which he continues to do.

Over the past 15 years Jim has furthered his academic knowledge through sessions at the VIAC center at UVM in Vermont as well as visits to cheesemakers both here and in Europe. He brings all of this knowledge together in his 5-6 workshops he conducts every year.

T. Britton Welsh, ACS CCP®, Beehive Cheese Company, LLC

Britton Welsh is the lead cheesemaker with Beehive Cheese Co. in Uintah, Utah. When partners Tim Welsh (father) and Pat Ford (uncle) started Beehive Cheese in 2005, Britton and his brothers and cousins were put to work stirring curds and whey. Fast forward a decade and the boys are playing an active role in making cheese and preparing the family company for a second generation of cheese pioneering.

Britton completed the ACS CCP® exam in 2015 and earned his MBA at Weber State University in Spring of 2017. He is a die-hard foodie and proud parent of a 3-year-old Goldendoodle, Copper, and uses his skills and passions to strengthen the artisan cheese community. He hopes to be a part of the upcoming generation of cheese lovers to continue to promote our ways of life and bring others to the good word of Cheese.

Robert Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese

Bob is in his 29th year as a cheese maker.  Bob has volunteered more time than is good for him.  That makes him wizened if not wise.  Bob believes cheese making and selling are occupations for people with short attention spans.  He sought the Speakeasy format for those of us who prefer variety, interaction and honest sharing over presentations.  Get up and wander; join in and talk. He hopes you will join him in relaxing, venting, consoling and celebrating this terrific and terrifying occupation.

David Yourd, Philosophy Foods

Philosophy Foods is founded by David Yourd and Karrie Kimble. The couple previously ran an import & distribution company in Chicago for 18 years. From very humble beginnings they had a reputation of having intense passion and knowledge of the products they represented which translated into very rapid growth of their company. In 2012, their company was sold in order to take advantage of an existing infrastructure to facilitate that growth. Dave and Karrie remained with the acquiring company for one year to oversee the transition.

Today Dave and Karrie’s focus is building the national business of Losada olives and O-Med Extra Virgin Olive Oil through Philosophy Foods. On the side they lend their expertise and skills to their operating partners in 2 other companies, Regalis Foods in NYC and Regalis Texas in Dallas, with a 4th business on the way. Their energy is as strong as ever as it is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the specialty food industry. With such demand and growth, they feel it is extremely important not to forget the roots of the philosophies in which the industry was born.