2013 Official Conference Cheesemongers
ACS is pleased to to announce its 2013 Official Conference Cheesemongers, Jason Herbert of Whole Foods Market in Deerfield, IL and Leah McFadden of Whole Foods Market in Santa Clara, CA. Jason and Leah are both members of the first class of ACS Certified Cheese Professionals. We look forward to working with Jason and Leah in Madison!
Are you interested in becoming an ACS Official Conference Cheesemonger in 2014 or beyond? Consider volunteering alongside Leah and Jason in Madison to learn more about their roles and responsibilities. Those cheesemongers interested in volunteering should contact Jana Hemphill via email or at 720-328-2788.
Jason Herbert, Whole Foods Market, Deerfield, IL
Originally a set designer and technical director for the theatre in Chicago, Jason moved from back stage to back of the house in 2002, earning le Cordon Bleu from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, starting in restaurants working under Chef Steve Chiappetti, then catering with Food For Thought where he began learning about cheese from CMC John Reed. In 2005, Jason joined Chicago Game & Gourmet wholesale and moved back into high-end catering until 2007, when he began work at Whole Foods Market, Deerfield, IL as a cheese buyer. While purchasing and selling more then 350 different cultured milk products daily, Jason has earned commendation for customer service and merchandising. In 2012, Jason was among the first to be awarded as an ACS Certified Cheese Professional. He looks forward to an amazing conference and honoring the cheesemakers.
Leah McFadden, Whole Foods Market, Santa Clara, CA
Leah grew up in a warm and food loving family. She started working at Whole Foods Market in 2008 and was first bitten by the cheese bug when she held the Demo Specialist position in 2010 and was sampling out French cheeses to customers. Once she took a bite of Boucherondin, she was hooked. Very shortly after that Leah became the cheese buyer in the Specialty department where she learned as much as she could about cheese and how to take care of it. Now she is running her own Specialty team at the Whole Foods Market in San Jose, CA.
Last year, Leah was part of the first class of Certified Cheese Professionals and after being certified, she has been doing everything she can to further her career in cheese. She currently writes a cheese blog called Shootin’ the Bries and is helping spread the word about artisan cheese.
About the Official Conference Cheesemonger Role
The Official ACS Conference Cheesemonger is the lead volunteer in charge of conference cheeses, including but not limited to prepping cheese 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 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.
A substantial amount of 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.
The Official Cheesemonger works closely with ACS staff and key volunteers, and has oversight of the following five positions:
- Receiver: The Receiver logs all packages including shipments for competition, from sponsors, and for educational sessions, events, and tastings. The Receiver ensures that the Conference Cheesemonger has an accurate daily record of all cheeses and related products received. In addition, the Receiver follows up on any problems with packages delayed in transit, damaged in shipping, etc. (staffed position)
- Donated Product Manager: After the Receiver logs receipt of shipments, the Donated Product Manager is responsible for verifying content of shipments; sorting, labeling, and storing appropriately; and tracking the movement of all donated product for sessions, sponsors, events, and tastings. The Donated Product Manager ensures that the location of every package is noted and accounted for, and serves as the ACS customer service point person on-site to help sponsors and others locate and access their items. The Donated Product Manager regularly updates the Conference Cheesemonger to ensure s/he is aware of current locations of cheeses and related products. (staffed position)
- Prep Team Lead: Oversees a team of volunteers who prepare cheese and accompaniments for various conference events and sessions including Tasting Sessions, Cheese Sale, Networking Breaks, Meals, and Festival of Cheese per instruction from the Conference Cheesemonger. (volunteer position)
- Lead Runner: Oversees a team of volunteers who deliver cheeses and accompanying products to the appropriate locations at the appropriate times per instruction from the Conference Cheesemonger. (volunteer position)
- Cheese Sale Lead: Oversees the set up, organization, and operation of the Annual ACS Cheese Sale with proceeds benefitting the American Cheese Education Foundation’s cheesemaker scholarships. (volunteer position)
- Roundtrip airfare to Madison, WI
- 7 nights hotel stay at the conference hotel
- Personalized ACS logo chef’s jacket
- Free registration for our 2014 conference (you’ll be too busy in Madison to catch the sessions!)
- Your retail shop’s profile on our web site, in our CheeseBytes e-newsletter, and in the conference guide
- Your personal profile on our web site, in CheeseBytes, and in the conference guide
The time required for this role is approximately as follows:
- March to June: 8 hours per month
- July: 8-12 hours per week
- August: 1 week prior to conference – 20 hours
- During the conference, the selected official should anticipate working extended hours. Hours will range from 8 to 12+ hours per day from July 24 through August 4.
Please note: ACS will select Cheesemoners, one local and one national. The local Cheesemonger may be asked to be at the conference venue on the first day of receiving (the Thursday) prior to the start of conference) to ensure proper routing of cheeses and donated products throughout the Conference & Competition.
Applications for the Official Conference Cheesemonger position will be posted after our annual conference. To apply please fill out the 2013 Official ACS Conference Cheesemonger Application and submit it to the ACS office no later than January 15, 2013!
Though food was always important, Alexander first fell in love with cheese when visiting his sister and brother-in-law David Lockwood in London at Neal’s Yard Dairy. The distinct earthy aroma’s of cloth-bound cheese permeated their apartment above the current Borough market shop, embedding a sensory memory that he holds dear to this day.
In 2005 he started his first cheesemonger position at Saxelby Cheese, where he learned about the amazing, burgeoning world of farmstead American cheese. Afterward he worked at the Bedford Cheese Shop in Brooklyn under the guiding eye of Charlotte Kaimin and finished a six month training at Neal’s Yard Dairy. In 2010 he was awarded the John Crompton Memorial Scholarship for Retailers from the American Cheese Society.
Alexander is Cheese Purchaser at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC and is working on crafting his own cheese consulting and events company, KastHuis LLC.
She started working in the food business at 14, and joined the cheese world in 2006 when she took a job as a cheese monger at South End Formaggio in Boston, MA. From there she went on to work at Whole Foods Market in Cambridge, MA, London, England and New York City where she was committed to developing the line of local and farmstead cheeses. She left Whole Foods to oversee the specialty cheese program at Crystal Food Import. She is now the grocery buyer for Canyon Market in San Francisco.
Rachel helped receive and oversee the cheeses for the ACS Judging & Competition at last year’s conference in Montréal. She looks forward to continuing to work with the American Cheese Society by supporting and promoting the American cheese industry.