2012 ACS Speaker Bios

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Kate Arding is an independent dairy consultant specializing in small-scale cheese production. She is also a co-founder of culture, the acclaimed first national consumer cheese magazine launched in December 2008. A native of Britain, Kate has worked in the farmhouse cheese industry for 18 years, firstly, as wholesale manager for Neal’s Yard Dairy in London, where she developed extensive knowledge – and love – of the farmhouse cheese industry.  In 1997, Kate moved to California to help establish Cowgirl Creamery and Tomales Bay Foods, a business modeled after Neal’s Yard Dairy but focusing on American artisanal and farmstead cheeses. Since 2003, Kate has worked extensively both in the United States and overseas as an independent consultant, specializing in affinage, sales and marketing, and helping small-scale cheesemakers adapt to changing market demands.  She has regularly been a judge for the American Cheese Society competition, as well as for the British Cheese Awards and the World Cheese Competition in Madison.  Kate is intrinsically involved with the day to day running of culture magazine. Kate lives in rural New York.

Nathan Arnold’s inspiration to create traditional styles of raw cow’s milk cheeses began through his experience as a farmer in the beautiful Sequatchie Valley of southeast Tennessee. Working with a myriad of animals on pasture at Sequatchie Cove Farm gave him the foundation and understanding that there is an art to creating truly unique, hand-crafted foods with ingredients directly from the farm. After years of study and research in places such as Vermont, Ontario, France and Virginia, Nathan’s cheesemaking style began to take shape, and he launched Sequatchie Cove Creamery with co-owner Bill Keener in 2010. Currently, Nathan makes 4 styles of cheeses – Cumberland (a tomme), Dancing Fern and Coppinger (2 washed-rind styles) and Greutli (a Gruyere-style). All of these cheeses are farmstead and are produced using raw cow’s milk from Sequatchie Cove Farm’s certified organic pastures.

David Auerbach teaches logic and philosophy at North Carolina State University. He lives in Durham, NC and for many years wrote restaurant reviews and food columns for the Independent Weekly.  Growing up in the Bronx during the 1950s and 60s, he ate good bread on a daily basis: a bread bakery and a bagel bakery were a few blocks away. He taught himself bread baking as a defense against the bad bread coincident with his leaving New York. In Durham, he went so far as to build a wood-fired oven, after learning its virtues, and the virtues of true sourdough, during a stint in Paris.  It took him many years, too many, to shake off the many myths surrounding bread and the fermentation of dough. He is still searching for the tiny stamps glued to the breads of his youth that certified the bread as union-made.

Veronica Baetje is co-owner and cheesemaker of Baetje Farms in Bloomsdale, Missouri.  Her love of cheesemaking dates back to childhood when her father made cheese occasionally in their home kitchen.  She works alongside her husband Steve Baetje and their team of seven employees turning their herd’s goat milk into cheese.  She is an Advanced Cheesemaking graduate of VIAC and has been blessed with over 40 national and international awards for their cheese since they began operation in 2007.  She believes the best milk makes the best cheese and the best milk comes from properly managed happy animals.

Debi Benedetti is a Certified Executive Coach who specializes in assisting executives, leaders, and entrepreneurs in exploring unrealized goals and personal strategic plans. She helps them focus on leadership attributes, emotional intelligence, and communication skills in a challenging and objective environment. Her rich enthusiasm, knowledge, and operational experience spans over 40 years in the hospitality industry.  As a founding corporate officer of Bon Appétit Management Company and at various positions in Saga and Marriott Corporations, Debi served such clients as Oracle, HP, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, The Getty Center, and Pac Bell Park.  She is an adjunct professor at The Culinary Institute of America, serves on the Advisory Board at UNLV’s Harrah’s College of Hotel Administration and is a Conti Professor in the Hotel School at Penn State University. Debi was named the Conrad Hilton Distinguished Lecturer at San Diego State University and most recently received The Lifetime Achievement Award from The Society of Foodservice Management. Debi works with several executives, owners, and entrepreneurs in the Hospitality and related industries.  She also provides Strategic Planning, Leadership Summits, and key note presentations for corporations, small companies, organizations, and associations. Presently, Debi serves on the boards of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and Guy Fieri’s Cooking with Kids Foundation.

Andrew Branan runs a solo law practice – The Branan Law Firm, PLLC – in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  Andrew’s practice concentrates on farm and land law, business planning, and estate planning, with an emphasis on farm succession, serving farmers and rural landowners throughout North Carolina and Virginia.  Prior to private law practice, Andrew served for seven years as director of the non-profit North Carolina Farm Transition Network, (NCFTN) where he developed education programs and resources to help farmers and landowners better understand the legal issues related to the operation of farms and the transfer of farm assets. While at NCFTN, Andrew developed and published the workbook titled Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook on Farm Transfer Decisions, which has been used by numerous farm families to help them communicate about the future of their farms and begin their legal planning for its transfer.  Also, prior to private practice, Andrew served on both the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Protection Trust Fund Advisory Board and the North Carolina Local Foods Council.  He continues to serve as an adviser to Mt. Olive College’s Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center. An expanded biography and resources can be found on his website, www.brananlaw.com.

Zoe Brickley began exploring the world of cheese while attending culinary school in New York City. From there, she took on the role of cave manager and American buyer at Murray’s Cheese after time spent mongering at the counter. Currently, Zoe coordinates sales and marketing for Cellars at Jasper Hill – an affinage facility dedicated to preserving the working landscape in northern VT through farmstead cheese production. She enjoys the frequent opportunities that her position allows to speak about cheese for mongers and civilians. Zoe has also presented for the ACS, Vermont and Seattle Cheese Festivals, and at the Cheese School of San Francisco.

Jeanne Carpenter is a cheese geek, but she didn’t start out that way. Raised on Velveeta on a family farm in Wisconsin, after college she worked as an award-winning journalist, an over-worked corporate project manager, and finally as a communications specialist for state government. In 2007, she started her own company to promote artisan cheese, and in 2009, launched Wisconsin Cheese Originals, a member-based organization dedicated to discovering, tasting, and learning about Wisconsin artisan cheeses. She is the founder of the annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival held every November and is the author of Cheese Underground, a blog giving readers the inside scoop on America’s Dairyland.

Stephanie Clark grew up on a small farm in Massachusetts.  She received her B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) in 1990, and continued on for an M.S. in Food Science, which she earned in 1993.  Stephanie earned her Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell University in 1997, and joined the faculty at Washington State University (WSU) in January, 1998.  She received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2004. Dr. Clark joined the faculty of Iowa State University (ISU) in August, 2009.  She serves as the Associate Director of the ISU Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, where she oversees the ISU-associated dairy research component of the three-institution center.  Her research has been presented in over 40 publications and over 50 posters and presentations.  Stephanie has taught courses in dairy products, dairy products evaluation, current issues and controversies in dairy products, oral communication, written communication, and sensory evaluation of foods.  She has been academic advisor for at least 45 undergraduates and research advisor of 4 Ph.D., 15 M.S., and over 20 undergraduate 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 Institute of Food Technologists and the American Dairy Science Association, and is Section Editor for the Journal of Dairy Science.  She has served on the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition Committee since 2011.  In addition to serving as a visiting professor in China, Dr. Clark has also shared her dairy foods expertise in Armenia and India.

Kathleen Cotter founded the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival in 2011. The first of its kind in the region, the festival brought together artisanal cheesemakers, food producers, and brewers from all over the Southeast to sample and sell their hand-crafted, delicious wares. Prompted by the newly christened American Cheese Month, Kathleen created the event to highlight and celebrate the growing movement of southern cheesemaking. The inaugural festival hosted some 30 cheesemakers and food artisans and a sold-out crowd of cheese lovers. Year two is in the works and slated for Saturday, October 6th, at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Kathleen also owns The Bloomy Rind, a cut-to-order cheese counter specializing in Southern and American artisan cheeses, located within Nashville, Tennessee’s Porter Road Butcher.

Dr. Dennis D’Amico
Dr. Dennis D’Amico currently serves as Senior Research Scientist at the University of Vermont and the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese (VIAC) where his research and outreach efforts focus on improving the safety of artisan cheeses through risk assessment and reduction. He currently leads research efforts in food microbiology and works closely with the artisan cheese industry in food safety related areas such as process control, process validation, environmental testing, hazard analysis and preventative controls.  He has published 9 peer reviewed articles as well as numerous abstracts and presentations on the subject and is considered one of the top experts on the microbiology of raw milk cheeses.  Dennis’ recent research examines the presence, ecology, and diversity of Listeria spp. in artisan cheese processing facilities, the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in raw milk destined for cheesemaking and microbial behavior during the manufacture and aging of various cheese varieties. Data from these projects inform exposure assessments and aid in the development of risk reduction interventions and technical outreach to promote the continuous production of microbiologically safe artisan cheese. Dennis received his BS and MS degrees in Nutrition and Food Sciences and his Ph.D in Food Microbiology from the University of Vermont.

Simon Darling
Simon Darling has worked for Cowgirl Creamery for the past five years, managing the San Francisco Ferry Building cheese shop since 2009. Simon’s time at Cowgirl is spent identifying, practicing and teaching ways to ensure that shop visitors experience quality products in the hands of capable, passionate cheesemongers. He is fascinated by strong systems, inspired by his co-workers and obsessed with clipboards. If you cannot find him in the cheese shop, he is probably either on his funny little folding bike, trying out a new sausage recipe or making beer.

Sasha Davies
Sasha Davies is an author, cheese educator and an active member of the board of the American Cheese Society. Davies began her cheese career at Artisanal Cheese and Murray’s Cheese in NYC; curiosity led her to embark on a tour of American cheesemakers, a project documented at cheesebyhand.com. She has authored two books, “The Guide to West Coast Cheese: More than 300 Cheeses Handcrafted in California, Oregon, and Washington”, published in September 2010 and coming out in fall 2012, “The Cheesemaker’s Apprentice: An Insider’s Guide to the Art and Craft of Homemade Artisan Cheese, Taught by the Masters”.

Julie Dickerson
Julie Dickerson hails from the Jersey Shore and works at Sickles Market in Little Silver, NJ.  As part of the Marketing Department, she specializes in Social Media: creating and scheduling content for Sickles’ Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in 2010 with a concentration in Art History.  After graduation, she won the Martin A. Dale Fellowship and founded a year-long project entitled Creative Currents.  During that year, she painted murals in women’s shelters, hospitals, homeless centers, and elderly facilities.  The year designing for others provided a strong foundation for understanding how the public wants to be visually entertained – a helpful concept in prepping Social Media material.  In her spare time, she enjoys running marathons, spending time at the beach, and trying new food.

MaryAnne Drake
MaryAnne Drake is a William Neal Reynolds 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 products.  Her research is focused on integrating sensory science with flavor chemistry to understand flavors and flavor sources in dairy products.  MaryAnne has published more than 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts, given over 170 professional presentations and 100 invited industry presentations.  She has judged the World Cheese Championships and the American Cheese Society competitions.  MaryAnne is the Past President of the American Dairy Science Association, the Director of the National Dairy Research Institute Sensory Applications Lab and the Director of the North Carolina State University Sensory Services Center.

Gordon Edgar
Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned cooperatives, and has been combining both of these infatuations as a cheesemonger at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco since 1994. Edgar has been a judge at national cheese competitions, a board member for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and, since 2002, blogged at www.gordonzola.net. His cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge was published in 2010 by Chelsea Green.

Helen Feete
Helen Feete began her farming career in 1988 when she and her husband Rick started their own farm. She began making raw milk cheese in 1998. Fourteen years later, Meadow Creek Dairy is a nationally recognized farmstead cheese producer. Their cheeses have won several awards at ACS in previous years, including a first place in the American Originals category for the Appalachian in 2010, and both a first in Farmstead and Second Best of Show for the Grayson in 2008.

A founding member of the Raw Milk Cheesemaker’s Association and Chair of the American Raw Milk Presidium from 2008-2009, in recent years Helen has focused more on education. The farm has employed a variety of interns from the US, South America, Central America, and Thailand, many of whom have gone on to agriculture and food processing careers in their home countries.

Jason Foscolo
Jason Foscolo was born and raised in Eastern Long Island, New York. The historic abundance of the island’s agricultural land inspired him to establish Jason Foscolo, LLC, a specialized law firm dedicated to the needs of farmers and food entrepreneurs.

Jason has worked with farmers and food entrepreneurs throughout the country, helping them to achieve greater market access through cooperative development, direct marketing guidance, food processing compliance, risk management, trademark law, product labeling, and grant funding.

Jason is a graduate of the Agricultural and Food Law LL.M. program at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The comprehensive curriculum gave him a thorough understanding of our nation’s food system, the special status of food and agricultural producers, and the unique laws which regulate every aspect of food production from farm to fork.

Jason is an active member of Slow Food East End, Ozark Slow Food, The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and the Farmer Veteran Coalition. He is also General Counsel to the American Mangalitsa Breeders Association. He is a graduate of Fordham University class of 1999 and Pace University School of Law 2002.

Currently, Helen and her team make four farmstead cheeses – Appalachian, Grayson, Mountaineer, and Mini – six days a week, while Rick and son Jim manage the 100 cow, seasonal, grass-based dairy which produces all of the milk for the cheeses. They expect the dairy will produce 85,000 pounds of cheese this year.

Bill Graves
Bill Graves is Senior Vice President- Product Research at the Dairy Research Institute.  He is responsible for all aspects of product research including developing a strategic plan with input from producers and processors.  He provides technical expertise and counsel in the areas of dairy product, ingredient and packaging technology, along with dairy product quality and safety.

Bill has over 31 years of industry experience in Research Development and Quality.  He received his undergraduate degree in Food Science at Cornell University.  In addition, he completed his M.S. in Food Science at Rutgers University, received an M.B.A. from New York University and holds five (5) patents.

David Gremmels
David Gremmels is the President of Rogue Creamery, an artisanal cheesemaking company producing   some of the finest blue cheeses in the world.  He is also the Chairman of the American Cheese Society which is the leader in promoting and supporting American cheese.

Having previously acquired an extensive marketing experience in specialty food products, David discovered the Rogue Creamery in Southern Oregon in 2002. The imminent closure of this historic creamery founded in 1933 sparked a new passion, one that would return David to his agricultural roots in the Pacific Northwest.

Since purchasing the business with co-owner Cary Bryant, the Creamery has increased production, developed new cheeses, and garnered over 70 trophies and ribbons in competitions around the world. Rogue Creamery made history when Rogue River Blue became the first American blue cheese to win World’s Best Blue and Grand Reserve Champion over all cheeses at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London and at the 2005 SIAL Food Show in Paris. Smokey Blue was also awarded the Innovation Award for Food Service Category at the 2005 SIAL Show. In both 2011 and 2009, Rogue River Blue won the prestigious Best of Show at the American Cheese Society judging and competition, surpassing 1,676 other cheeses.

David remains dedicated to producing classic signature blue cheeses and American originals like TouVelle in the finest tradition of artisanal cheesemaking, using the highest quality milk from exclusive herds and other hand-selected ingredients. Also dedicated to sustainability, he has Rogue Creamer and its dairy facilities certified by Food Alliance. When asked what makes the success of Rogue Creamery, David explains, “We have an amazing team of people dedicated to sustainability, service, and the art and tradition of making the world’s finest handmade cheese. We love making cheese. It’s that simple.”

Louis Grubb
Louis Grubb was born into a family of four children in 1944 on a 135 acre traditional farm. He studied agriculture and botany at Trinity College Dublin, on graduation he commenced and worked for twelve years for the state agricultural research organization working on agricultural systems for marginal land. He gained much experience in a wide variety of farming systems and in general management. He did not return to the family farm in 1972 on the death of his father due to a lack of succession planning, consequently his mother ran the farm for six years. In 1978 he consciously returned to the farm with his wife and child, with the goodwill of the family but no ownership or financial security. Strategically he needed the farm to return a regular income and chose dairying for which the banks were favorably disposed.

In 1984, Jane his wife, became the first person to make an Irish farmhouse blue cheese and established it as an independent on farm company with 100% ownership held by the couple. By 1990 Louis had been able to establish an agreement to purchase the farm outright from his siblings. Jane and Louis Grubb focused on developing the Cashel Blue name and farm.

Louis Grubb is a life member of The Irish National Trust, past chair of the Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers association and current committee member on the local creamery branch committee.  In his spare time he enjoys sailing, botanising, and gardening.

Andrew Gunther
Andrew Gunther joined the Animal Welfare Approved program in April 2008 as program director. Previously, he was the senior global animal compassionate product procurement and development specialist for Whole Foods Market, leading the team that designed and launched the company’s five-step welfare program in the United Kingdom. From a truly agricultural background, Andrew, with his wife and children, pioneered the world’s first organic poultry hatchery for chickens. The Gunther family also managed the production for the largest independent organic chicken producer.

As Program Director for Animal Welfare Approved, Andrew has spearheaded the program’s unprecedented growth, increasing the number of approved farms tenfold, promoting farm viability for humane livestock farmers, and growing market strength. The Animal Welfare Approved standards have been rated “most stringent” by the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Andrew also works with restaurants groups and retailers to increase the availability of Animal Welfare Approved meat, dairy and eggs in traditional retail settings. Andrew is currently part of the Texas State Board of Agriculture’s organic advisory board and a member of the American Association of Agricultural Scientists.

John David Harmon
John David Harmon’s earliest cheese memories were formed while melting cheese in his coffee at his grandmother’s breakfast table. Later childhood found him learning to sneak cheese into the movie theatre in his pockets from his twin older brothers. Professionally, Mr. Harmon started in cheese as the cheese monger for Star Provisions in Atlanta moving on to Whole Foods Market where he has served as the South Region’s Buyer and Coordinator for seven years.

Sara Hill
– Graduate Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, New York
– Garde Manger Chef for 8 years, New York, Minneapolis, Scottsdale
– 30 year veteran of the specialty cheese industry including sales, buying, marketing,
– Deli cheese case display and promotions, cheese education for retailers and chefs.
– National Sales Manager of Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle , Wisconsin 2006-2008
– Past Board member of The American Cheese Society
– Past Board Member of the Dairy Business Innovation Center, Wisconsin

Christine Hyatt
Christine Hyatt began her cheese journey in 1998 behind the counter at Central Market in Austin, TX.  The “pay the bills” job quickly transformed into a passion and vocation, exploring and sharing the story of the world’s finest cheeses at teaching at the Central Market Cooking School.

Over the last 14 years, she has worked with, sold, promoted and launched creative endeavors around cheese, including Cheese Chick TV and Cheese Chick Productions.  She honed her skills working as a trainer-merchandiser with Anco Fine Cheese and specialized in Cheese Marketing and Education with DPI Northwest.

Christine is founder and creative director of Cheese Chick Productions, a boutique marketing company committed to sharing stories of artisans  and guilds through video production, food photography, recipe creation and compelling copywriting.   Her current project is an in-depth series of video profiles on Oregon cheese and cheesemakers.

She is particularly connected with and inspired by the growing and vibrant community of cheesemakers throughout North America and currently serves as President of the American Cheese Society, where she championed American Cheese Month, a grassroots celebration of our homegrown cheese that launched in 2011.  She is a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.

A native of Bethlehem, PA, with a degree in English from Dickinson College, Christine now savors cheese and life in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband and two young, cheese-loving boys.