Competition Judges

The ACS Judging & Competition strives to achieve the highest level of integrity. Each year, the J&C Committee works diligently to identify and select judges who possess the utmost levels of expertise, ethics, and reliability. Our judges work in teams of two: one Technical and one Aesthetic. Learn more about the Judging Process.

2019 Judge Roster

Get to know the Technical and Aesthetic Judges who participated in the 2019 Judging & Competition.

Technical Judges

Bob Bradley


MaryAnne Drake

MaryAnne is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center, North Carolina State University where she conducts research on the flavor and flavor chemistry of dairy foods.  Her research is focused on understanding how processing steps influence flavor and consumer perception of foods. MaryAnne has published more than 245 peer-reviewed manuscripts and given more than 300 invited industry presentations. MaryAnne is the Past President of the American Dairy Science Association, the Director of the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center and the Director of the NC State Sensory Services Center. MaryAnne is an ADSA and IFT Fellow.

Mucio Furtado

Mucio Furtado was born in Brazil and has a BS degree in Biochemistry from the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil and a Master’s and PhD degrees in Food Science, at MSU, East Lansing, MI, USA. He has been working with cheesemakers all over Latin America since 1990. He has worked for 12 years with Chr. Hansen in Brazil and 15 years with Danisco DuPont, also in Brazil, always providing technical support to the cheese industry all over Latin America. He has published 11 books on cheese technology, in Portuguese and Spanish. Presently, Mucio works for Dupont in São Paulo, Brazil.

Mauro Furtado, PhD

Graduated in Engineering and Food Technology, Federal University of Viçosa (1978), Master of Science and Food Technology, Federal University of Viçosa (1988) and PhD in Food Science – Michigan State University (1994). He is currently retired as Titular Professor at the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, being responsible for the courses of Cheese Processing, from1982 thru 2017. He has experience in the Science and Food Technology, with emphasis on dairy technology, working mainly in dairy products, with emphasis on cheese processing and projects and installation of dairy industries. He worked for 4 years as Director of International Affairs for Federal University of Viçosa, prioritizing the establishment of agreements and partnerships with several foreign universities. International experience includes participation in the Graduate Program at the University of Cordoba, in Monteria, Colombia, lecturing in a cheese technology course. In Cusco, Peru, he has participated as technical advisor in the area of cheeses. He has been in Algeers twice, working on establishing of cooperation agreements and lecturing cheese technology course in Institut Technique dês Elevagens (ITELV).  He has participated in the last 30 years as a judge in the National Contest of Dairy Products, in Instituto de Laticínios Cândido Tostes (ILCT), Juiz de Fora – MG, Brazil, judging several types of cheeses marketed in the country and has promoted events such as Commented Tasting of Cheeses. Technical consultant in the area of cheeses for the national dairy industries, working in the development of new technologies and quality control of cheeses.

Luis Jiménez-Maroto

Luis Jiménez-Maroto is a Food Engineer from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico, where his work as an intern at the Dairy Processing Lab seeded his fascination for cheese. He followed this interest to the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he obtained a MS in Food Science under Dr. Scott Rankin, working on the functionality and sensory profiles of Latin American cheeses. Afterwards, he returned to Mexico City and worked as a Sensory Scientist for PepsiCo International Mexico while simultaneously holding a position as Adjunct Lecturer at his alma mater, teaching the laboratories for the courses of Dairy Processing and Unit Operations in the Food Industry. But the allure of cheese is hard to ignore and Luis eventually found his way back to Wisconsin, where he worked for several years as the Sensory Coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and the Food Science Department of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, managing both academic and industry-based research related to the organoleptic properties of cheese and other dairy products. Three years ago, Luis’s hunger for knowledge got the better of him and he is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Food Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison under the tutelage of Dr. John Lucey on the effects of high-pressure processing and super chilled storage on the long-term performance of various cheeses. Luis has served as a judge for the WMCA World Championship Cheese Contest and the ACS Judging & Competition for nearly a decade.

Kerry Kaylegian, PhD

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.

Sarah Masoni

Sarah Masoni’s current position is Senior Faculty Research Assistant II; Director of Product and Process Development at the Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center Experiment Station, where she has resided for the last 17 years. There, she works as a liaison between the university and the food manufacturing industry by managing staff, projects, and budgets at an innovative, leading-edge technology center. Sarah has specialized in food entrepreneurship, and she works on projects ranging from local and natural ice cream sandwiches, dairy products, beverages, seafood products, pet food and treats, sauces, dry mixes and organic fruit and nut bars. Sarah is also a recognized flavor specialist with strong relationships with ingredient vendors and flavor companies, and regularly serves as an official judge for local and national product evaluations. A former artisan Cheese Maker, Ms. Masoni is a current member of the Institute of Food Technologists, Oregon Dairy Industries, and the American Cheese Society. Sarah has been invited as an Official Judge for the ACS Annual Cheese Competition, and has judged for the American Dairy Goat Association, as well as, the 2016 and 2017 SOFI Awards. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Art and Food Science from Oregon State University.

Max McCalman

Max McCalman was Maître Fromager for Picholine Restaurant, the Artisanal Bistro, and for in NYC. Max has authored four books on cheese: The Cheese Plate; Cheese, a Connoisseur’s Guilde to the World’s Best; Mastering Cheese; and McCalman’s Swatchbook of Wine & Cheese Pairings. He is Director of Cheese Studies for the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC.

Virgil Metzger, PhD

Virgil Metzger is a Cheese and Dairy Consultant since retiring from Kraft Foods after 41 years where his last position was a Research Principal of Cheese and Dairy R&D. As a Cheese and Dairy Consultant, Virg is doing work with Cheese Grading, Process Cheese Process and Product design, Dairy Ingredients, and Supply Chain. In addition to his technical work, Virg enjoys working as a Cheese judge for the National Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation contest, the US, World Cheese Championship Contests and the ACS Contest. Virg received a B.S. and M.S. in Dairy Science from South Dakota State University in 1969 and 1971. Virg lives in Vernon Hills, IL with his wife Mary and has three children, two boys and one girl. He enjoys spending quality time with their six grandchildren, gardening, yard work, fishing, and traveling

Gina Mode, MBA

Gina 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.  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 course instruction and outreach efforts.  Gina particularly enjoys working with cheesemakers to develop new specialty cheeses.  She has served as a technical judge for a variety of state, national, and international cheese contests.

Steve Murphy, MPS

Steve Murphy retired from Cornell University in 2016 as a Sr. Extension Associate with the Department of Food Science.  He began his career as a laboratory technician and joined the Dairy Foods Extension program in 1991 where he coordinated, developed and participated in extension based programs covering dairy product testing, quality and safety. Steve’s primary responsibilities was with the Fluid Milk Shelf-Life Program, an extension based program funded by NYS dairy farmers designed to assist processors in understanding and improving milk quality and shelf-life. In January 2017, Steve took became the Executive VP of the Dairy Practices Council (DPC) overseeing the workings of the organization under the guidance of the DPC Executive Board. DPC is a non-profit organization of education, industry and regulatory members charged with writing guidelines that contain practical information covering procedures and best practices from dairy farm to dairy manufacturing facilities. Steve oversees the guideline development, update and distribution process; membership; and coordination of the Annual Conference. Steve is an active member of the New York State Association for Food Protection and the International Association for Food Protection as well as the DPC. He is a member of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments HACCP Implementation Committee involved with the development and implementation of HACCP regulation and training for industry and regulatory personnel. He is a listed trainer for the Preventive Controls Qualified Individual standardized curriculum recognized by FDA in meeting training requirements under the Food Safety Preventive Controls Rule. He served as a dairy product judge for the NY State Fair Dairy Product Competition for over 25 years and was an invited judge for the 2016 and 2017 American Cheese Society Annual Meeting. Steve has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology (1979) and a Master’s Degree in Food Science (1997), both from Cornell University.

Brett Musser

Brett started his career in the cheese industry in 2000 at Washington State University making Cougar Gold. During his time at WSU, he moved through the production floor to Cheese Maker. From there, Brett went to Hilmar Cheese in Hilmar, California as the Cheese Technical Manager and Corporate Quality Manager. He currently works for CHR Hansen as an Account Manager in Food Culture and Enzymes.

John Partridge, PhD

John A. Partridge was born in Newport, VT in 1952. In 1975, he earned his B.S. in Dairy Technology from the UVM and returned to Newport, VT, as Assistant Manager of Elmwood Dairy. In 1978, he returned to the UVM as a research technician where he completed his M.S. in Dairy Technology in 1980. John earned his PhD from Michigan State U. in 1983, at which time he joined the faculty of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He was jointly appointed as Associate Professor in the Departments of FSHN and Animal Science at Michigan State University. He was Advisor to the MSU Dairy Foods Complex, which includes a modern dairy plant, the “Dairy Store” and teaching, research and extension laboratories. The MSU Dairy Plant manufactures ice cream and a variety of natural cheeses, including Cheddar, Dagano, Colby, and Gouda. John taught Unit Operations and Dairy Foods and was the Academic Advisor for 160 undergraduate students. As Extension Specialist, John worked with industry and regulatory leaders to provide training through the Michigan Dairy Education Partnership and direct consultation on many issues regarding milk and milk products including sensory evaluation. He has coached the MSU Dairy Products Evaluation team for 8 years and has been the Superintendent of the Michigan FFA Milk Quality Contest for 35 years. He was a co-instructor for the Annual MSU Artisanal Cheese Makers Short course and was the chief judge in the cheese and butter contest at the Michigan State Fair for 15 years. He has recently judged cheeses at the American Cheese Society and World Championship Contests. John officially retired from MSU on June 30, 2016, but continues acting it with American Dairy Science Association, Dairy Practices Council and FFA.

Brian Ralph

Brian Ralph is an olive oil aficionado, world explorer, and former affineur currently based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Brian supervised the Murray’s Cheese Caves from 2011 to 2015. During this time, he oversaw the design and development of the Cave Master Reserve cheese line while connecting with cheesemakers from France to Oregon. His history with Murray’s established him as a leader in the field of Affinage in the United States. After leaving Murray’s Brian spent two years discovering different regions, cultures, and foods across the globe. Inspired by his travels and former career as an affineur he now works as the Head of Operations for Bona Furtuna. As a part of his personal mission to create social and economic sustainability to farmers, Brian works to promote quality Sicilian heirloom foods worldwide. When not sipping olive oil or spooning out rounds of Epoisses, Brian skis in the Tetons and photographs wildlife.

Robert Ralyea, MS, RS

Rob is a Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. He studied at Kansas State University (B.S., Animal Science & Industry) and Cornell University (M.S., Food Science in 1998).   He is retired from the United States Army where his primary role was the safety and security of food and war reserve supplies and overall Department of Defense force health protection.  He joined the Cornell faculty in 2004 and on the Dairy Foods Extension team and the Milk Quality Improvement Program.   He is the resident cheese extension lead and provides innovative and practical information for the industry to wisely manage and improve the safety and quality of cheese and other dairy products in NYS.  In this role, he works closely with New York State dairy industries and regulatory agencies to ensure production of wholesome, high quality dairy food products.  He is also a judge for the New York State cheese competition. He is a member of the National Environmental Health Association, the New York State Association for Food Protection, the Finger Lakes Milk & Food Sanitarians and the American Cheese Society.

Tonya Schoenfuss


Russell Smith

For the past 25 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 1995. He is the Chief Judge for the Australian Grand Dairy Awards and 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, 2016 & 2018 and the American Cheese Society Competition in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017. He has also judged the Global Cheese Awards in Frome, Somerset in the UK in 2011. He continues his sensory education programs for cheese judges, cheese makers and retailers in Australia and internationally.

Marianne Smukowski

Marianne sits on the ACS Board of Directors and serves as chair of the ACS Regulatory and Academic committee; Marianne’s current position is Dairy Safety/Quality Applications Coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. In this position she assists dairy manufacturers in the following areas: safety/quality audits, third party audits, recall issues, GMP reviews, and developing HACCP plans. She coordinates the WI Master Cheesemaker program and provides technical support in regulatory matters. She has judged dairy products for numerous contests (ACS, WI Cheesemakers Association, and World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest) throughout her career.

Gil Tansman, PhD

Dr. Gil Tansman began his career 6 years ago under the tutelage of Dr. Paul Kindstedt at the University of Vermont. Together, they conducted novel research on cheese crystal chemistry and presented published findings to audiences in the US and Europe. This novel research allowed Gil to collaborate with Vermont cheesemakers to achieve the goal of highlighting unique cheese characteristics and helping cheesemakers build value in the marketplace. Gil’s technical training under Dr. Kindstedt led him to Agri-Mark’s Cabot, VT plant where he worked with seasoned industry professionals in his role as Quality Supervisor, gaining valuable experience in the manufacture of cheese and cultured products. In his current role as Sales Manager for CSK Food Enrichment, Gil works closely with cheesemakers to develop products with unique characteristics that can generate excitement and increase market value. Gil’s diversity of experiences have given him a regard for tradition as well as an understanding of the important role of technology in the production of high quality dairy foods. Gil’s hope is that the collective work of cheesemakers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers will continue to enhance America’s dairy landscape and promote the domestic production and marketing of superior dairy products.

Steve Zeng, PhD

Dr. Steve Zeng is Professor, Dairy Product Specialist and Chairperson of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Langston University, Oklahoma. His expertise is in dairy product processing, particularly in goat milk and cheese. He worked for the cheese industry as QC/R&D Scientist/Manager for two years. His research interest has focused on sub-clinical mastitis and its effect on composition of goat milk, sensory quality and yield of cheese, quality, safety and shelf-life of goat milk products. With his industrial, academic and extension experiences, he has conducted more than seventy cheesemaking workshops/schools in AR, DE, KS, GA, KY, MO, NE, OK, TX, and VT in the U.S. as well as overseas in Argentina, Armenia, China, Kenya, and the Republic of Georgia. He has judged the ACS Cheese Contest, the United States Cheese Championship, the World Cheese Championship, and the American Dairy Goat Association Cheese Contest in the last ten years.

Aesthetic Judges

Kate Arding

Kate Arding is an internationally recognized authority on cheese with over 20 years of experience in the farmhouse cheese industry. Her work encompasses cheesemongering and marketing, affinage, publishing, teaching, and presenting. She also acts as a consultant to cheese producers and retailers.  Kate’s cheese career began at Neal’s Yard Dairy in London, where she developed a thorough understanding of the farmhouse cheese industry and what it takes for cheesemakers and retailers to create and sustain profitable businesses. From Neal’s Yard, Kate went on to Marin County, California, where she helped establish Cowgirl Creamery & Tomales Bay Foods. Kate’s consulting work has influenced agricultural agencies, cheese producers and retailers around the globe, working in places as diverse as Uganda, Ecuador, the Netherlands and Macedonia. A former member of the Board of Directors for the American Cheese Society (ACS), and former Chair of the ACS’s Regulatory and Academic Committee, Kate regularly judges at many U.S. and international competitions and is a regular presenter and keynote speaker. In 2011, she was inducted into the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, where she was especially recognized for her work within the artisanal cheese industry, both in the U.S and overseas. In 2008, Kate co-founded the leading consumer cheese magazine Culture. She is an area editor of the Oxford Companion to Cheese (Oxford University Press, November 2016), and is currently at work on a book of her own. Kate is a founder and co-owner of Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions, a specialty cheese and prepared foods shop in the city of Hudson, NY.

James Coogan

James Coogan is a veteran of the New York City cheese scene. Since 1990 he has worked at some of the best cheese counters in the city including Balducci’s, Fairway Markets, and The Ideal Cheese Shop. His cheese department at Agata & Valentina was ranked as one of the best in the city by The New York Times. Mr. Coogan was inducted into The Guilde Des Fromagers in 2010. He currently oversees cheese/dairy/charcuterie for New York City food icon Eli Zabar. James resides on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wine and spirits professional wife Bambi Ray.

David Grotenstein

David Grotenstein has more than three decades of experience in all aspects of retail food, including business start-ups and expansions, product development and manufacturing, and e-commerce and social media management. Clients and work history include Foragers, Hudson Market, Le District, Union Market and Fairway Markets in New York City, Fox & Obel in Chicago IL, Fallon & Byrne in Dublin, Ireland, Cheese Culture in Ft. Lauderdale FL, Sickles’ Market in Little Silver NJ, and Grafton Village Cheese in Brattleboro VT. He has written for business and trade publications, and participated in numerous panel discussions and tastings, hosted by National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Heritage Radio Network, Quebec Department of Agriculture, The Italian Trade Commission, The New York Times, and Columbia University Business School, amongst others. Additionally, he has worked with the American Cheese Society since 1990, both on the board and as chairman of the Judging and Competition, and he is a Prud’homme in the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.

Louella Hill

Louella Hill, known to some as “The Milk Maid”, serves as the Executive Director of the Southern Cheese Guild where her passion is connecting rural and urban communities and promoting incredible local cheeses. In addition to organizing at a regional level, Louella is also working near her home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to gather producers together to start a regional aging facility.

Allison Hooper

Allison Hooper is a pioneer of artisan cheesemaking, entrepreneur and co-founder of Vermont Creamery, Allison Hooper was named one of the “most innovative women in food and drink” by Food & Wine and Forbes magazines in 2015. In 2018, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who in Food and Beverage”. For more than 34 years, Allison has been at the helm of the artisan cheese industry, introducing goat cheeses, cultured butter, and crème fraiche to the American palate. In 2012 she and her business partner Bob Reese started Ayers Brook Goat Dairy in Randolph Vermont to supply goats’ milk to the creamery and practice improved genetics, nutrition, and goat husbandry as a resource for aspiring goat farmers. 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. Vermont Creamery was acquired by Land O’Lakes, a farmer owned Cooperative. Allison’s family retained ownership of the Ayers Brook Goat Dairy.

Caroline Hostettler


Brie Hurd

Brie Hurd is the cheese buyer at The Cheese Shop of Salem in Salem, Massachusetts. She began her career in 2007 at The Concord Cheese Shop, where she fell in love with cheese and became an accomplished cheesemonger and buyer. In 2012, Brie was awarded the John Crompton Memorial Scholarship and attended her first ACS Conference in Raleigh. For two years she worked as the Maître Fromager at local restaurant AKA Bistro in Lincoln, Massachusetts, where she developed a cheese program and presented a weekly selection to restaurant guests. Her cheese cart has been featured in Cheese Connoisseur Magazine. In 2015, Brie helped found The Cheese Shop of Salem – a cut-to-order cheese shop just north of Boston, specializing in artisan cheese, natural wine, charcuterie, and gourmet grocery. Most recently, she traveled to Italy for the Slow Food Cheese festival in Bra, and to visit cheesemakers throughout the Piedmont region. Brie is a three-time competitor in the Cheesemonger Invitational, a member of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild Advisory Board, and Chair of the ACS Education Committee.

Rachel Klebaur

Rachel Klebaur is owner and head cheesemonger at Orrman’s Cheese Shop in Charlotte, NC. She started her career at Murray’s Cheese in NYC and there she was immediately drawn in to the cheese world. Over the course of the past 15 years she has worked as a cheesemonger, buyer and importer. She has a seasoned perspective of the landscape of cheese production in the United States and works to build relationships with cheesemakers in order to deeper understand cheesemaking, the dairy and the cheese and to bring that information to the consumer. Most recently she earned the American Cheese Society’s certification of Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator.

Jen Lawton

Jen Lawton is the owner and cheesemonger at Keystone Cheese, a specialized cheese shop focusing on the cheeses of Pennsylvania and surrounding states. With over 15 years as a buyer in the Cheese Industry, she has had the privilege of tasting countless cheeses from around the world and cuddling her fair share of farm animals. Jen works closely with farmers and cheesemakers to select the best cheeses for each season, and to learn and share the story of these cheeses and their makers with her customers. A Certified Cheese Professional, she regularly offers cheese classes to her community, educating on the science, history, and flavors of cheese in an accessible and friendly way. In her spare time, Jen enjoys searching for the perfect sandwich and spending time in the garden with her 3 daughters, 7 chickens, and 1 cat.

Emiliano Lee

Emiliano Lee has been an advocate for good food most of his professional career. He is currently Grocery Manager at the Lexington Cooperative Market in Buffalo, NY; having made his wending way through the world via California, Arizona, and Utah. He spent several years managing cheese and store operations at such pioneers as Farmshop and Liberty Heights Fresh, served as Vice President of the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and has judged for ACS, the SOFI Awards, Good Food Awards, CMI, and others. Wherever he’s wandered, Emiliano has sought to serve the people, bringing access to traditional sustainable foods, and supporting those who produce them across the spectrum. Everybody’s gotta eat.

Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn knew he’d found his calling when he discovered an industry that combined art, science, and history in a package you could eat. Since 2008, Lance Lynn has led the team as manager and lead cheesemonger at Scardello Artisan Cheese in Dallas, Texas. Lance has played an instrumental role in making Scardello a mainstay of the Dallas food scene and has committed himself to bringing the best cheeses in the world to his community. Lance has attended ACS yearly since 2010, received the John Crompton Memorial Scholarship in 2011, and obtained his CCP in 2013. He is an active volunteer with the Judging and Competition committee, serving as both steward and cooler captain. His favorite part of ACS is meeting the new faces that show up every year and welcoming more people into the cheese family.

Everett Presley

Everett oversees and inspects cheese and other foods from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Croatia as Quality Control Manager for Forever Cheese. Born in Mississippi, raised in Brazil, he came back to the U.S. after high school, graduating from Mississippi University for Women with a B.S. in Culinary Arts. After working in restaurants in Nantucket, Everett enrolled at NYU in their graduate program for Food Studies. While in New York, he started behind the counter at Murray’s Cheese, worked his way up into management and was affineur in the days before the formal aging caves. While in NYC, he taught at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. Everett worked for Whole Foods Market before moving south, working for The Fresh Market and Bittersweet Plantation Dairy in Louisiana. Returning north to take a job working for Wine Library, he developed, managed and grew their gourmet department for several years before joining Forever Cheese in 2013. He has served as an Aesthetic Judge twice before, in Montreal and Raleigh.

Gurth M. Pretty

Gurth M. Pretty is the Sr. Specialist, Deli Cheese for the 400 stores of the Market Division of Loblaw Companies Limited in Canada. He is always on the look-out, sniffing and searching for delicious cheese to offer his customers. Training and increasing the cheese knowledge of the stores’ deli managers and their staff is one of his many responsibilities. Customers experience his special promotional events, to discover new cheese and meet the cheesemakers. SIAL Canada asked Gurth to be their on-site Cheese Ambassador at their Toronto (2015 and 2017) and Montreal (2018) trade shows. His book, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal & Fine Cheese (Whitecap Books 2006), was named best cheese book at the 2006 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. With the internationally known wine writer and judge Tony Aspler, they co-authored The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook (Whitecap Books 2007). Gurth was invited to be the Canadian contributor to The World Book of Cheese (DK Books 2009). His industry involvement includes being past president of the Ontario Cheese Society and the Canadian Cheese Society. He is a member of the Toronto Cheese Guild and their past treasurer.

Mary Quicke

Mary Quicke runs Quicke’s a £3.4m turnover farmstead cheesemaking business. She is the 14th generation on the farm. The aim of the business is to produce world class cheese, sold world class around the world with excellence in farming. She has run the business since 1987. Quicke’s Cheese is the largest British naturally matured traditional cheddar maker. Cheese has been made on the farm during the family’s 470 year history. The cheese is multi award winning, for instance winning Best Cheddar at the British Cheese Awards for 3 years, winning Best English Cheese in 2015 and consistently winning trophies at major cheese competitions in the UK. The hallmark flavor is complex, balanced and with a long finish, and some characteristic horseradish notes under the rind. The cheese sells to key outlets in the UK, and over one third to export, mainly US and Australia. The 1500 acre farm has 600 cows grazing outside for 11 months, grows forage and arable crops and supports wildlife in environmental schemes. It has a farm shop selling cheese and superb foods locally foraged. The business employs 41 people in Newton St Cyres, Exeter, Devon, England. Mary is developing the Academy of Cheese with cheese industry colleagues in the UK. This is a 4 level certification system including tasting inspired by the American Cheese Society’s CCP and the Sommelier programme. She is a Dairy Sector Board Member of AHDB, the levy body that supports farming from levies collected from farm products. She is a Board Member of the Food Standards Agency, the UK food regulator. She was awarded the MBE in 2006 for contribution to agriculture and cheese. She writes a monthly blog, Mary’s Dairy Diary, available on, and writes an award-winning column for Devon Life

Karen Silverston

Karen’s love for cheese led her to the American Cheese Society when she retired from an engaging software career. She came for the cheese and stayed for the cheese makers after John Greeley invited her to join the Judging and Competition Committee. Deeply inspired by the committee’s devotion to cheese makers, Karen served passionately as a member of the J&C committee from 2005-2018. Karen contributed freelance articles to Cheese Connoisseur, Deli Business magazine, and, and drove lively Slow Food and “In Our Own Backyard” cheese tasting events. A Chicagoan by birth, Karen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from University of Illinois. She escaped Midwestern winters by fleeing to California, lived happily ever after, and currently resides in Texas. She was honored to receive the ACS Above and Beyond award in 2014.

Lassa Skinner

Tha(Lassa) Skinner transferred her passion for archaeology to cheese, starting first in Boston then moving to northern CA and Australia. She opened and ran the Oxbow Cheese Merchant (Napa, CA) and co-founded Culture magazine, in 2008. Writing, educating and building long term relationships and businesses that center around the world of cheese, she continues to strive to build a stronger global cheese community — makers, mongers, affineurs, distributors, importers/exporters, educators, etc. — that shares information, continues to learn and grow, and is completely smitten with their livelihood.

Sarah Stewart

Sarah Stewart has been working for Neal’s Yard Dairy (NYD) for nearly 20 years and has recently become a partner and shareholder in the business. Sarah has worked across the full spectrum of the business at NYD and this unique experience makes her a valued member of the senior management team. After initially starting in their Covent Garden Shop she quickly moved on to help develop their US export department, working with fellow partner Jason Hinds. In 2004 she moved into the buying role working closely with NYD founder, Randolph Hodgson, and existing partner, David Lockwood. As cheese buyer for NYD, this role gave Sarah a broad knowledge of the cheese producers and would regularly include visits to select the best cheese and feedback on changes in profile. After a break to travel, Sarah returned to the business to take on a more hands-on maturation role, developing an in-depth knowledge of how to mature cheeses with a specific focus on soft, mold ripened cheeses. This role involved frequent feedback to producers on how their cheeses were tasting and maturing and offering guidance on how they could be improved. In recent times this maturation role has expanded and as Cheese Champion within NYD she has a wider remit and uses her vast experience to provide wider feedback at every stage from delivery and maturation, through to packing and delivery, and how the cheeses are presented on our shop counters.

Jennifer Sussman

Jennifer Sussman has more than 25 years of experience in the specialty food world, from cooking to category management. Her career spans working in and for restaurants, retail chains, and as a wholesale and retail buyer working closely with producers to ensure highest quality and end-user satisfaction. Jennifer is currently the Director of Cheese and Charcuterie at The Chef’s Warehouse. She oversees production selection for 13 distribution centers in the US and 3 in Canada. Her dedication to quality and attention to detail allows her to focus on local, artisanal products for each market as well as nationally. She understands and respects all aspects of the relationship between producer, distributor, and customer.

Peg Todloski

Peg Todloski has been talking about and eating cheese for over 20 years, and she added it to her professional job of wine buyer 10 years ago. In 1996 Peg started her career in wine as an assistant buyer at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC where she frequently helped pair beers and wines with the vast selection of cheeses offered at the store’s cheese counter. In 2003 Peg moved to Weaver Street Market coop in Carrboro, NC where she was the wine & beer buyer for the coop’s two stores. In 2008 the coop opened a third store and Peg added cheese to her wine & beer buying responsibilities for all three locations. Peg travels extensively for wine & cheese buying and has traveled to France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Chile and 20 states here in the U.S. Peg’s passion is making wine, cheese and specialty foods from around the world and the US accessible and fun to as many people as possible. Peg’s favorite things she’s experienced through traveling for wine and cheese have been being chased by hundreds of sheep down a tiny farm road in Italy, driving through the Andes Mountains, meeting real-life farmers and cheesemakers, and hanging out with goats.

Courtenay Tyler

Courtenay Tyler is the founder and owner of Tilman’s Cheese & Wine, a cheese and wine bar in Charlottesville, VA. Before embarking on a mission to bring good cheese and wine to the people of Virginia, she served as a Vice President for several groundbreaking companies in the grocery and online space: Earth Fare, Relay Foods, and Door to Door Organics. When not pouring wine and slinging cheese and her own spot, she can be found traveling to other places to consume wine and cheese, or at home with her cats.

Joey Wells

Joey Wells, ACS CCP and Global Senior Coordinator Specialty Cheese Product Innovation & Development at Whole Foods Market, has been a leader in cheese for 19 years. He sources, selects and develops products in his role and leads training of cheese mongers at Whole Foods Market. He has served as a judge at the World Cheese Awards.