Official Cheesemongers

    Official Conference Cheesemongers

    Each year, the ACS Annual Conference relies on the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers. Among these volunteer roles is that of the on-site cheesemonger, the point person who oversees and manages the receipt, movement, storage, and preparation of the thousands of cheeses and other donated products that play a starring role in ACS conference events.



    Randall Felts, Whole Foods Market, Alabama

    Randall Felts Cheesemonger Pic-BrightenedRandall Felts has had a lifelong passion for knowledge, travel and food. Growing up in West Virginia and Alabama, he enjoyed reading about the connection between cultures and food. While pursuing a degree in Political Science, Randall worked in restaurants to support his education, and more importantly, desire to travel. In his work and studies, he found how firmly food connected people, inspiring him to pursue a culinary career.

    On vacation in Northern California, Randall found his true calling. Picnicking on Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk at Muir Beach, he knew his mission would be to show others the beauty of American cheeses.

    Fortunately, Randall found a great partner for this endeavor in Whole Foods Market, where he took a job as a cheese buyer.  In this role, he educated himself, his customers, and his team members with his passion for cheese.  Hosting cheese tastings, classes, and working a cheese counter every day enabled him to support the great cheesemakers he began to meet, and grow the cheese community throughout the South.

    In his preparation for the ACS Certified Cheese Professional™ Exam, Randall enjoyed a week-long training at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, experiencing the highest level of training. After passing the exam, Randall rose to Specialty Team Leader, where he is able to pair his love of cheese with wine, beer, coffee, and chocolates.

    He is delighted and honored to return to Northern California as an Official Conference Cheesemonger for the ACS conference.  In this role he hopes to support and spread the passion he found here years ago when his cheese career began.


    About Whole Foods Market

    Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market is the leading natural and organic food retailer. The company’s mission is to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement.

    Whole Foods Market’s cheese shops are a culinary destination, offering the variety of a stand-alone specialty shop – but with cheeses and specialty products free of artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, preservatives and hydrogenated oils. Local and regional cheeses are highlighted, and the grocer’s cheese cases are filled with American originals using traditional cheese making and farming methods.

    Whole Foods Market preserves cheese traditions by actively promoting and educating shoppers about the quality of its cheeses and assisting with the education of its cheesemongers. In the past two years of the Certified Cheese Professional™ exam, Whole Foods Market has had 147 cheesemongers pass, the most of any retailer.

    Kelsie Parsons, Sobeys Inc, Ontario

    Kelsie Parsons Pic-SmallerKelsie’s life changed forever on a trip to a farmer market when he saw that his favourite cheesemonger was hiring. He immediately knew that’s what he wanted to do with his life. Kelsie spent the next couple of years selling cheese with Canadian cheese expert Gurth Pretty at markets throughout Toronto, Ontario.

    Kelsie has since earned his Cheesemaking Certificate from the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese and worked as a cheesemaking apprentice at Monforte Dairy producing a variety of sheep and goat milk cheese. He has represented the Toronto Slow Food convivium at Terra Madre in Italy, and his photos of Canadian cheese are featured throughout Juliett Harbutt’s World Book of Cheese.

    In the summer of 2012, Kelsie drove across Canada and visited over 120 cheese factories. He is now in the final stages of writing a self-published book on Canadian cheese titled Curds & Eh! Kelsie is one of only eight ACS Certified Cheese Professionals™ in Canada and he runs the cheese department at a Sobeys store in Kitchener, Ontario, where he carries over 300 varieties of cheese.

    In addition to cheese, Kelsie also loves ice cream, roller skating, and craft beer (but not at the same time). He is super excited to participate in the 2014 ACS Conference and is looking forward to meeting many people who share his passion for cheese.

    About Sobeys Inc.

    Proudly Canadian, with headquarters in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Sobeys Inc. has been serving the food shopping needs of Canadians for 106 years. Today, Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,500 stores in all 10 provinces under retail banners that include Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, Lawtons Drugs, as well as more than 330 retail fuel locations.

    Together with 124,000 employees and franchise affiliates, Sobeys’ purpose is to encourage and empower Canadians eat better, feel better and do better. As part of bringing better food to Canadians, Sobeys offers cheese departments with dedicated experts sharing cheese knowledge to help customers discover, appreciate and enjoy the different tastes and styles of cheese.

    Are you interested in becoming an Official Conference Cheesemonger?

    The position of Official ACS Conference Cheesemonger is for experienced cheesemongers who…

    • want to apply their skills to the broadest array of American cheeses they’ll ever encounter
    • can successfully juggle many tasks while managing a team of dedicated volunteers
    • think on their feet and can find creative solutions to unexpected challenges
    • can dedicate 7- 10 days to fulfill this role during the conference
    • have the support of their employer to undertake this role
    • enjoy being part of the behind-the-scenes action at the ACS Conference
    • wish to be recognized as a top professional in their field

    ACS offers…

    • Roundtrip airfare to the conference host city
    • 7 nights hotel stay at the conference hotel
    • Personalized ACS logo chef’s jacket
    • Free registration for the next ACS conference (you’ll be too busy while serving as Official Conference Cheesemonger to catch the sessions!)
    • Your personal profile with your company logo on our web site, in CheeseBytes, and in the conference guide

    Job Description

    The Official ACS Conference Cheesemonger is the lead volunteer in charge of conference cheeses and other donated product, including but not limited to receiving and inventorying product shipments, prepping cheese and products for meals and breaks, plating cheese for tasting sessions, assisting sponsors with preparing and displaying their cheeses for special events, etc.   The Cheesemonger will track the movement of cheese and donated products to and from various venues, ensuring proper preparation and handling by volunteers, and overseeing a team of volunteers to deliver cheeses to the appropriate events at the appropriate times.

    The Official ACS Conference Cheesemonger must possess a strong ability to organize, arrange, and schedule the tempering and delivery of multiple donated products (including cheese, milk for demos, crackers, charcuterie, chocolate, beverages, etc.) for multiple events throughout the conference.  Catering experience is helpful in this role.

    Some time is required of this role prior to the conference.  The pre-conference work will include setting up prep and delivery schedules, kitchen schedules, volunteer runner schedules, staging schedules for sessions/tastings/events, etc.

    During the conference, the selected cheesemonger should anticipate working extended hours.  Typical hours range from 8 to 12+ hours per day.


    Applications for the Official Conference Cheesemonger position in 2015 will open in the summer of 2014. If you are interested in applying, or would like to learn more, please contact the ACS office at 720-328-2788.

    Past ACS Official Conference Cheesemongers: