Conference Agenda

Forged in Cheese

Please note that this program is subject to change

  • Session Locations: Unless otherwise noted, all sessions and events will take place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
  • Session Seating: All sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis at the door, and sessions are not selected in advance during of registration. As some sessions will fill to capacity, be sure to have an alternate session in mind for each time slot.
  • Tasting Sessions: Tasting sessions are optional and take place during concurrent session blocks. New this year: all tasting sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis on-site. Tickets will be available outside of the session room 30 minutes prior to the session start time. Doors will close at the start of the session and late entry will not be permitted. Limit one ticket per person.
  • Sensory Deep Dive: The popular How Sweet Are You? The Science of Taste session with Russell Smith of Dairy Australia will be offered again this year on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (one session per day). This session is a ticketed session and requires you to secure a space during registration process. Space is limited to 15 people per session. SOLD OUT.

View the Agenda:

  • Thursday, July 26
  • Friday, July 27
  • Saturday, July 28

Session Handouts and Presentations:

Conference session handouts and presentation slides can be accessed and downloaded from the Forged in Cheese mobile app. (available soon)



West Atrium
7:30 am – 6:00 pm


7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Sample products from various ACS sponsors.


7:30 am – 4:00 pm

A map of Supporting Trade tables and a Sponsor Passport are included with your Conference materials. Visit at least eight tables, plus the Bookstore, and have your passport stamped at each location. Return your completed passport to the Registration Desk for a chance to win a complimentary 2019 ACS Conference registration! 

Pittsburgh Ballroom
7:45 am – 8:30 am

Sponsored by the Vermont Cheese Council

Start your day with a taste of place: Vermont maple syrup, smoked bacon and ham, buttermilk pancakes, cultured butter, and of course, Vermont cheese! Then, grab a seat for the Opening Keynote with Gerry O’Brion.



Pittsburgh Ballroom
8:45 am – 9:45 am

  • Gerry O’Brion, What Big Brands Know

What do you want for your business? For your life? The most successful people don’t leave accomplishment to chance. Learn simple steps achieve more in your business and your life. Gerry O’Brion is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and marketing expert who helps companies thrive in good times and bad.

This fun, engaging, interactive session has you immediately implementing the ideas you learn. You’ll be up out of your chairs in a fully participative experience. No more just sitting and listening. This session gets you fully immersed in your goals and moves you down the path of accomplishment and generating action and commitment right here, right now.

You’ll walk out of this session with new tools and a new commitment to do those things that will move your life and career to the next level.


Terrace Foyer
9:00 am – 3:30 pm


Terrace Foyer
9:45 am – 10:15 am


Room 312
9:45 am – 10:15 am

Open exclusively to credentialed media.

10:15 am – 11:45 am

#1 – Affinage Under the Microscope 

  • Benjamin Wolfe, Tufts University
  • Panos Lekkas, Cellars at Jasper Hill
  • Eric Meredith, Neal’s Yard Dairy

If you wonder what you can do to impact the quality of your cheese after it’s made you’ll want to come to this session. Affinage under the microscope will knit together how what we see impacts all of the microbial activity we can’t see. We will touch on most aspects of cheese making with a specific focus on affinage and food safety of surfaced-ripened cheeses after the cheese has been made and arrives in your caves. Using case studies we’ll explain how to use the scientific method to find the root cause of common microbial issues in cheese.


#2 – The Right Cut!

  • Steve Jones, Cheese Bar
  • Carlos Souffront, Tony’s Fine Foods
  • Waldemar Albrecht, Cheese Plus

Let these old-school retail cheese veterans walk you through the breakdown of cutting cheese for retail sales. We will be covering large format styles (Parmesan, Gruyere, Emmentaler), small soft cheese, hard-to-handle cheese (think runny, messy, and odd shapes, such as squares and balls). We will share pro tips and tricks that will save you time and money, yet will leave you with beautiful cuts. This will be a hands on workshop.

#3 – Varying Perspectives Across The Supply Chain

  • Rachel Perez, ACS CCP®, Tony’s Fine Foods
  • Debra Dickerson, Tomales Bay Foods
  • Zoe Brickley, ACS CCP®, Jasper Hill Farm
  • Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery

Whether you work as a cheese maker, distributor or retailer, we all encounter similar problems across the supply chain. However, we deal with these problems in different ways. From receiving practices, to dealing with less-than-perfect product, to hiring/staff expectations, our perspectives and end goals influence our actions. We plan to unpack some of these circumstances as a panel and explore how each part of the supply chain engages, acts and reacts to specific circumstances to give our audience a wider perspective on the cheese industry in general. 

#4 – Can I afford to cooperate?

  • Annette Kendall, University of Missouri

One of the fundamental questions in business is “can I afford to cooperate with other members?” In our industry, this question could be followed up with “can I afford not to?” Cooperation is costly to producers in that it requires resources that may better be invested by the producer in their own business, rather than helping someone else. On the other hand, within a culture of cooperation, producers who fail to help others may suffer negative reputational effects. What motivates cooperative behavior, and what is the expected payoff?

#5 – How Sweet Are You? The Science of Taste

  • Russell Smith, Dairy Australia

Before you can understand the flavors in food, you need to understand your palate. Join sensory expert Russell Smith to find out just how differently we all experience flavors. Your thresholds for tastes on the tongue will be tested, as well as your ability to discriminate between the flavors of very similar cheeses. Then, put this knowledge to the test by tasting a variety of cheeses to determine just how sweet you are! Ticket required; SOLD OUT.

#6 – Opening Networking: TBD


Pittsburgh Ballroom

  • Lunch Buffet: 12:00 pm – 12:30 p.m.
  • Business Meeting: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Lunch sponsored by TBD

Come hear updates from your ACS Board of Directors on what they’ve accomplished in the past year, and learn about ACS’s Strategic Plan 2020 and how the organization plans to focus on advancing the industry while proactively addressing member needs. You’ll also be on hand as we recognize industry members, announce Board changes, and congratulate this year’s scholarship recipients.


Terrace Foyer
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

#7 – Celebrating a Fermentation Renaissance (Tasting)   

  • Ari Miller, 1732 Meats
  • Bill Covaleski, Victory Brewing
  • Rory Stamp, ACS CCP®
  • Moderator: Jeff Roberts

This tasting brings together a small curated collection of American-made preserved meats paired with Pennsylvania artisan cheeses and craft beers. Fermented products, beer, bread, cheese, preserved meats and wine share many characteristics – but how do we offer suggestions to plan an appetizer plate or great menu, while incorporating many diverse aromas, flavors, and textures? In addition, as American charcuterie and salumi producers experiment constantly with different textures, spices and herbs, how can we offer guidance to our customers? First come, first served; space is limited. 

#8 – A Review of the Non-Cheese Sensory Landscape

  • Craig Gile, ACS CCP®, Cabot Creamery
  • Vince Razionale, Grafton Village Cheese

Within the cheese industry, the popular appeal of sensory analysis has been growing dramatically in the last few years – spider graphs and flavor profiles are fast becoming a part of the everyday lexicon. What are the trends for other industries when it comes to product evaluation – and what can we learn from this ever-evolving landscape? Join a team of sensory professionals as they provide an overview of others’ sensory standards – such as coffee, spirits, meat, chocolate, and more!

#9 – What Does Excel Have To Do With a Cheese Case? The Role of the Sales Manager in the Specialty Cheese World

  • Liza Kaplansky, Consider Bardwell Farms
  • Chris Munsey, ACS CCP®, Vermont Creamery
  • Rebekah Baker, ACS CCP®, Tony’s Fine Foods

The life of a specialty cheese sales manager is not just spreadsheets, but knowing your way around a pivot table certainly doesn’t hurt! From long hours on the road to hot kitchens with demanding chefs to slicing up samples for a trade show, the work of sales managers is anything but monotonous, but it can certainly be baffling to those new to the role. Join our panel of sales managers (both producer and distributor sales managers will be represented) for a lively discussion on the many roles and responsibilities of the specialty cheese sales manager and how the industry as a whole would benefit from a common body of specialty cheese sales knowledge to draw upon. 

#10 – Open Networking: Cheesemaker Feedback on Judging & Competition

Come provide feedback to the ACS Judging & Competition Committee Chairs, Stephanie Clark and Rich Rogers on what works and what can be improved on the ACS J&C score sheets.

2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

#11 – ACS Town Hall

  • Nora Weiser, ACS Executive Director
  • Officers of the ACS Board of Directors

Sponsored by TBD

Join ACS Executive Director Nora Weiser and officers of the ACS Board of Directors for an open discussion about how ACS can continue to serve the growing and changing cheese industry. With an eye towards its core membership of cheesemakers, ACS is working to find more economical ways to run its Annual Judging & Competition and Annual Conference with an eye towards lowering costs for producers, allowing broader participation, reducing waste, and ensuring that cheeses are always featured in the best light.


Exhibit Hall D
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm (Retailers and Distributors Only)
4:30 pm – 6:30 pm (Open to All Attendees)

Sponsored by California Milk Advisory Board

Meet the people behind your favorite cheeses! This popular event is your chance to sample North America’s finest cheeses and speak directly with the experts—the cheesemakers themselves. Come hungry and ready for delicious cheese and cultured dairy products from over 80 producers! Cash bar available.

Noresco Riverside Terrace
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Sponsored by Marquee Sponsor, Gourmet Foods International


West Atrium
7:30 am – 4:00 pm 


7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Sample products from ACS sponsors.

7:30 am – 4:00 pm

A map of Supporting Trade tables and a Sponsor Passport are included with your Conference materials. Visit at least eight tables, plus the Bookstore, and have your passport stamped at each location. Return your completed passport to the Registration Desk for a chance to win a complimentary 2019 ACS Conference registration!

7:30 am – 8:30 am

By Invitation

Presidents and Executive Directors of regional guilds are invited to join this open discussion of successes and challenges faced by local guilds. The Guild Leaders Network will tackle issues related to non-profit operations, policies, maximizing resources, and working together to best serve the cheese community. Continental breakfast provided.


Terracy Foyer

8:00 am – 4:00 pm 

Pittsburgh Ballroom

8:00 am – 8:30 am

Breakfast sponsored by TBD

Start your day with a hearty continental breakfast and grab a seat – breakfast will immediately precede the general session, Save by Savoring: How to Sustain the Diverse Foods and Flavors We Love, presented by Simran Sethi

Save by Savoring: How to Sustain the Diverse Foods and Flavors We Love
Pittsburgh Ballroom
8:30 am – 9:30 am

  • Simran Sethi, Journalist & Educator

In this overview of agricultural biodiversity, author and Institute for Food and Development Policy fellow Simran Sethi will explain the challenges around the loss of agricultural biodiversity and highlight how cheese/dairying can lead the way in building a more resilient food system by creating an appetite for diversity in ways that other foods can’t—from microbe to milk, and soil to seed.


Terrace Foyer

9:30 am – 10:00 am

10:00 am – 11:30 am

#12 – Old and New Frontiers in Bandaged Cheddar (Tasting)

  • Vince Razionale, Grafton Village Cheese

Join Vince Razionale, the 2017 Daphne Zepos Teaching Award (DTZA) recipient, as he dives deep into the world of bandaged cheddars from the UK. After two visits to the UK over the past year, and having tasted many batches with key producers, Vince will present a reference batch of several cheeses of this style, along with an overview of the history, politics, and future challenges for this key style of cheese. First come, first served; space is limited.

#13 – The Fight for Diversity in Food

  • Simran Sethi, Journalist & Educator
  • Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery
  • Bronwen Percival, Neal’s Yard Dairy
  • Francis Percival, The World of Fine Wine

For more than a century, cheese, like almost every food, moved, seemingly inevitably, from the farm to the factory. However, a resurgence of traditional cheesemakers– and groups like ACS – have helped create consumer desire and economic opportunity for people wanting to eat and make styles of cheese that might otherwise have gone extinct. What is the value in preserving traditional food? What opportunity does it create in preserving community and rural lifestyles? What can we do to fight for diversity in food? 

#14 – Producing Sheep and Goat Milk Year-Round: When Big Challenges Call for Easy Solutions

  • Marian Marques de Almeida, Ms. J and Co.
  • Ryan Andrus, Cypress Grove
  • Veronica Pedraza, ACS CCP®, Pastoral Wine & Cheese

We will be focusing on the physiological characteristics of Sheep and Goat reproduction creating awareness on the limits these species present regarding milk production on a yearly basis and what are the solutions to overcome these limits. We will be looking at 3 different approaches: Technical approach on Reproductive management: why can’t sheep and goat be bred every month of the year? Understanding reproduction and present some methods (artificial and natural) to go around these difficulties. Farmer approach: Farmers sharing their experience and success using these methods to produce milk all month of the year Cheese maker approach: cheese making with seasonal and not seasonal milk advantages and disadvantages. 

#15 – An Optimistic Guide to Failure

  • Rueben Nilsson, Caves of Faribault
  • Wendy Mitchell, Avalanche Cheese

An independent cheesemaker needs to be an expert in finance/accounting, construction, equipment design, quality assurance, packaging, and shipping/logistics. All this is in addition to crafting an exceptional piece of cheese! Mistakes will happen, and we must always adapt and move forward. We will examine a few of the challenges faced in each of these areas during the life-cycle of a start-up cheese company. 

#16 – Specialty Cheese Sales Beyond Brick and Mortar 

  • Liz Thorpe, The People’s Cheese
  • Mateo Kehler, Jasper Hill Farm/ The Cellars at Jasper Hill
  • Adeline Druart, Vermont Creamery
  • Ken Blanchette, Fresh Direct
  • Moderator: Ilana Fischer, Schuman Cheese

In the past 3 years there has been a proliferation of sales channels for specialty cheese makers that look and function very differently from independent specialty retailers and traditional grocery stores. Many of these new channels are exclusively digital while others rely on club or subscription models. This panel will feature four industry leaders discussing these new sales channels: what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what makers need to know to successfully diversify go-to-market strategies beyond traditional brick and mortar customers.

#17 – How Sweet Are You? The Science of Taste

  • Russell Smith, Dairy Australia

Before you can understand the flavors in food, you need to understand your palate. Join this panel of sensory experts and cheesemakers to find out just how differently we all experience flavors. Your thresholds for tastes on the tongue will be tested, as well as your ability to discriminate between the flavors of very similar cheeses. Then, put this knowledge to the test by tasting a variety of cheeses to determine just how sweet you are! Ticket required; SOLD OUT.

#18 – Open Networking: TBD


Terrace Foyer

11:30 am – 12:00 pm


Pittsburgh Ballroom

  • Lunch Buffet: 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
  • FDA Update: 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm

Lunch sponsored by TBD

A representative from the FDA will share an update on current food safety issues impacting our industry.

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

#19 – Drink the Apples – Eat the Cheese! (Tasting)  

  • Rachel Freier, ACS CCP®, The Cheese Course
  • Ben Wenk, Ploughman Cider & Three Springs Fruit Farm
  • Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm

With consumers embracing the tradition of fermented foods, this session will explore the history and placement of the fermented apple by touching on the culture of English cider, Spanish cider, French cider and the American cider renaissance. Pennsylvania is experiencing a simultaneous rebirth in crafting ciders and crafting farmstead and artisan cheese. This session will guide you through an overview of cider styles that we’ll pair with different cheese from Pennsylvania maker’s. We’ll challenge you to consider how this renaissance will affect the stewardship of land, if it’s a trend or here to stay, to think about if cider is a beer or wine and tips for selling cider (with cheese, of course!) We’ll even sneak in a cider-washed cheese. First come, first served; space is limited.

#20 Large farms can have quality Milk, Healthy animals, and cow comfort

  • George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese
  • Brian Fiscalini, Fiscalini Cheese
  • Kim Bremmer, AG Inspirations
  • Moderator: Kari Skibbie, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

These family farms care about their cows, so they utilize science and technology to benefit and improve the welfare of their livestock. They also want to ensure their farms are sustainable for the next generation. Come learn how George Crave, Brian Fiscalini, and Kim Bremmer use technology and new practices to improve the lives of cows, which in turn influences the quality of milk that contributes to award winning cheeses. Their goal is to affect the health and happiness of their cows no matter if they are from Wisconsin or California. Come join in the conversation and get answers to your questions.

#21 – Food Safety Through the Supply Chain

  • Andrew Torrens, Eataly
  • Matt Benham, Arethusa Creamery
  • Jess Perrie, ACS CCP®, Essex Street Cheese

With food safety being on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the roll out of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) underway, it is important that everyone across the supply chain is on the same page. This talk will address strategies implemented at the producer, retailer and importer level to address both FSMA-generated laws and internal food safety standards. At the producer level we talk about the pros and cons of doing a third party audit and FSMA compliance for cheesemakers of every scale. At the importer level we will discuss the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and some of the associated challenges. At the retailer level we discuss how to create a flexible supplier approval program and what documents and/or procedures you should request from your producers and distributors. Throughout we will highlight the need for open dialogue across the supply chain to ensure valid, sensible food safety solutions. 

#22 -Be Careful What You Ask For – Planning for Success and Succession 

  • Allison Hooper, Vermont Creamery
  • Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm Cheese
  • Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese
  • Pat Ford, Beehive Cheese

ACS members have worked tirelessly for decades to create a vibrant and promising food category for cheese, dairy, and agriculture. In the natural course of things it is inevitable that some of our members are considering retirement and how their businesses will carry on without them at the helm. With this in mind it is never too early to plan for ownership and/or role transition. Hear how members think about a transition strategy, what goes into planning this and get some tips about what you can do today to create the outcome you want and deserve. Panelists will share their stories to include their existing plans, plans they have been part of and how they might have done things differently if at all, knowing what they know today. Topics may include how to build capacity in your organization to take it to the next level, how to value a business, how to go to market, select a buyer, successor or successors.

#23 – Open Networking: TBD


Terrace Foyer

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm



Pittsburgh Ballroom

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Sponsored by Marquee Sponsor, Gourmet Foods International

Be a part of the excitement as this year’s winners are announced and recognized for their expert craftsmanship! Cash bar opens at 4:00 pm outside the Plaza Ballroom. For those who aren’t able to experience the excitement of the Awards Ceremony in-person, a live stream will be available at



7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Sponsored by TBD

Join your friends and colleagues for a toast to celebrate ACS’s 2018 winning cheeses and cheesemakers!


West Atrium
8:30 am – 4:00 pm

8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Sample products from ACS sponsors.

8:30 am – 4:00 pm

A map of Supporting Trade tables and a Sponsor Passport are included with your Conference materials. Visit at least eight tables, plus the Bookstore, and have your passport stamped at each location. Return your completed passport to the Registration Desk for a chance to win a complimentary 2019 ACS Conference registration! 


9:00 am – 10:30 am

#24 – The Cornerstone Project: An American Original (Tasting)

  • Peter Dixon, Parish Hill Creamery
  • Rachel Fritz-Schaal, Parish Hill Creamery
  • Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm
  • Brian Civitello, Mystic Cheese
  • Mark Gillman, Cato Corner Farm

Four cheesemakers made the same cheese, or did they? What happens when we all follow one recipe, each use our own native cultures, use the same forms, and encourage wild rinds? In response to the ACS Judging Committee’s call for American Original cheeses, we hatched a plan to develop an approach to cheesemaking that demonstrates the elemental nature of the raw milk. By limiting the input variables, we allow the raw milk to determine the nuances of texture and flavor unique to each of our Cornerstones. First come, first served; space is limited. 

#25 – Creating (and Maintaining) Buzz for Your Business

  • Kendall Antonelli, ACS CCP®,  Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
  • Janet Fletcher, Planet Cheese
  • Lassa Skinner, Culture Magazine
  • Allison Hooper, Vermont Creamery

Ever wonder why some businesses seem to get all the buzz, press mentions, awards, and likes (especially when it feels like you’re doing similar things)? Getting good press is only half the battle. Continuing to be relevant in the news is more challenging. Find out what a retailer and cheesemaker have done to garner attention for their businesses and hear from a food writer and magazine owner about what they look for in a good story.

#26 – From Terroir to Cheese: How to Select Unique Flavors

  • Julien Rouillaud, Ecole Nationale d’Industrie Laitière (ENIL)
  • Christophe Megevand, Schuman Cheese

Where do the flavors in your cheese come from? How the environmental conditions can impact the animals, thus the flora of raw milk and the flavor of the cheese produced? What is the importance of the milk preparation to control the flora? Come listen to Julien Rouillaud, cheesemaker and professor at the Ecole Nationale d’Industrie Laitière (ENIL) of Poligny/Mamirolles to get a deep understanding of the importance of the very first steps of cheesemaking. 

#27 – Obsalim for Better Ruminant Feeding 

  • Bruno Giboudeau, Accordan

Obsalim is the brainchild of a French veterinarian named Bruno Giboudeau. Little by little, he discovered that by observing small signs on the animals and changes in their behaviour one can know exactly what is happening in the rumen. Years of trails have grown into an extremely reliable technique that puts the ruminants at the center of running your farm. The application of the technique will allow you to fine tune the management and feeding of your animals for optimal transformation of their ration (roughage) leading to a reduction in disease, improvement in economy, and better control over cheese production. Learning Obsalim is like learning to understand the language of the rumen. The technique has become very popular in France and is gaining interest from the scientific community all over the world. Session attendees will be introduced to the Obsalim method and its extraordinary benefits through an exercise which will identify key factors in herd rumen health and provide insights into proper corrective measures. 

#28 – How Sweet Are You? The Science of Taste

  • Russell Smith, Dairy Australia

Before you can understand the flavors in food, you need to understand your palate. Join sensory expert Russel Smith to find out just how differently we all experience flavors. Your thresholds for tastes on the tongue will be tested, as well as your ability to discriminate between the flavors of very similar cheeses. Then, put this knowledge to the test by tasting a variety of cheeses to determine just how sweet you are! Ticket required; SOLD OUT.


Terrace Foyer

10:00 am – 3:00 pm


Terrace Foyer

10:30 am – 11:00 am


Room 312

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Open exclusively to credentialed media.


Pittsburgh Ballroom

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Sponsored by TBD

Sample yogurts, butters, cultured dairy products, and fresh unripened cheeses from the 2018 ACS Judging & Competition. Winners will be highlighted, and you’ll have a chance to enjoy these delicious products with a variety of baked goods, granolas, breads, salads, and condiments. This is truly a Brunch of Champions, with a nod to ACS’s 2018 winners!

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm

#29 – Closing the Validation Gap for Raw Milk Producers Under PCHF 

  • Robert Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese
  • Adam Borger, Food Research Institute/ University of Wisconsin

Preventive Controls under FSMA require processors to validate that their procedures result in safe cheese. For some varieties or processes, validation may involve gathering existing scientific evidence that pathogens will die, or at least not grow, before use by consumers. For many cheese varieties, no scientific evidence exists that proves the manufacturing process will reduce risk to an acceptable level. In those cases, challenge studies, perhaps involving non-pathogenic varieties of microorganisms, may demonstrate that a series of steps provides effective protection. Coordination of research among cheesemakers and academics may reduce the cost of validation for the industry.

#30 – Transhumance 101

  • Caroline Hostettler, Quality Cheese

Alpage cheeses are widely popular but most people (even within the cheese community) do not have a thorough understanding of Transhumance, the tradition thanks to which we are able to enjoy Alpage cheeses. This session shows how the move of humans and animals to different altitudes in accordance with the seasons works in Switzerland, where Transhumance originated more than 8’000 years ago and still is alive. Learn about the various structural forms of Alps, and the many tasks Transhumance fulfills both for nature and society. After attending this seminar you will know why and how Alpage cheeses are healthier than any other cheeses, and you will be able to distinct Alpages from so called alpine or alpine style products.

#31 – Developing & Communicating with New or Seasoned Retail Staff

  • Sunshine Goodman, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop

That new staff member you just hired needs to get trained! Great, you have the first 90 days down, now what? What do you do after 90 days? Or a year? What about three years? In this session, not only will you get several tools to help develop your new or seasoned staff, but you will also learn how to continue their development to ensure they are impacting all your business drivers and ensuring you are invested in them. You will also know what you need to do to find the time to do it.

#32 – Design Methodology for the Cheese Professional

  • Sophie Slesinger
  • LinYee Yuan, MOLD Magazine

Do you feel frustrated when technology companies invent solutions for food problems that miss the mark? Food issues, food systems change solutions, and specialty food products are increasingly featured in the start-up world. Cheese professionals, or “subject matter experts,” (as referred to in the start-up world) can be an important part of technology and food design work. This session explains how food industry professionals can use design thinking methodology in their own businesses or to diversify their professional portfolios. UX, prototyping, model-making, and design research is not just for tech companies!

#33 – Deep Dive: A Holistic Approach to Preventing Cheese Defects

12:15 pm – 3:15 pm *please note extended session time*

  • Gina Mode, Center for Dairy Research
  • Andy Johnson, Center for Dairy Research
  • Dean Sommer, Center for Dairy Research

Learn to craft a high-quality cheese free from defects in this hands-on session that includes sensory elements. From microbial management to salting, participants will explore what factors cause defects, how defects can be prevented and what to do if you have one. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind session that includes a full overview of the issues from the experts at CDR. 


Terrace Foyer

1:45 pm – 2:15 pm

2:15 pm – 3:45 pm

#34 – Cheese Pairings From the Far East    (Tasting)

  • Rachel Perez, ACS CCP®, Tony’s Fine Foods
  • Liza Kaplansky, Consider Bardwell Farm
  • Jesse Pugach, Sake Consultant
  • Kevin Corcoran, ACS CCP®, World’s Best Cheeses

Though cheese has not historically been a common ingredient in East Asian cooking, cheese has gained increasing popularity in the region. With traditional flavors that range from clean and crisp to deep umami, we will explore how ingredients from the Far East (China, Japan , Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea) pair with various cheeses. Pairings will include Far East ingredients including: Sake, Green Tea, Kimchi, Nori, Umeboshi. First come, first served; space is limited.

#35 – How Actively Building Hope Can Change Your Business

  • Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s Delicatessen

The idea of hope is hardly new—nearly every one of us uses the word hope nearly every day. it comes up in conversation, in informal discussion and bits of casual daydreaming. But it turns out that hope isn’t just something to have casually in hand as we pass through our days—it’s a critical contributor to the way your organization and your life operate. Hope, studies are showing, correlates with better work performance, better health, better scholastic and athletic performance. In our world it can mean better cheese quality, better work performance, better energy. Working without hope, on the other hand, leads to despair and disengagement. The good news is that we can mindfully work to cultivate hope within our organizations. In this session Ari will share his newly emerging thinking on the role that hope can—and does—have in the workplace and share concrete tips on how to both avoid the negative impact we can create when we inadvertently dash the hopes of our coworkers, and conversely, look at concrete and practical ways we can work to actively cultivate hope. The costs of building hope are very low, the benefits are huge. We hope you can make it.

#36 – Conservation for Heritage Breeds in North America

  • Jeannette Beranger, The Livestock Conservancy
  • Sarah Bowley, SVF Foundation
  • Mario Duchesne, Association de mise en valeur de la race bovine Canadienne (AVRBC)
  • Bronwen Percival, Neal’s Yard Dairy
  • Moderator: Sam Frank, Jumi, Inc.
  • Kevin Corcoran, ACS CCP®, World’s Best Cheeses

We are living in a time of unprecedented resource depletion and biodiversity loss, which is largely due to conventional agricultural practices. 2016 Daphne Zepos Teaching Award Recipient, Sam Frank, presents a panel of the organizations in North America that are doing real work to preserve our heritage breeds, all of which are on the brink of extinction. First we will hear from the Livestock Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works with farmers, chefs, historians, consumers, and others around the nation to protect over 150 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Next will be the SVF Foundation, which preserves germplasm (semen and embryos) from rare and endangered breeds of food and fiber livestock through cryopreservation in collaboration with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Finally, we will hear about the work of the Canadienne Cow Development Association, which brings together academics, dairy farmers, and cheesemakers in Quebec to effectively preserve the Canadienne, one of North America’s very few native dairy breeds. Learn why it’s important for the American cheese industry to take part in this conservation effort and how you can get involved. And ask our panel members lots of questions!

#37 – Good Food from Close By 

  • Samantha Kane, Glen’s Garden Market
  • Danielle Vogel, Glen’s Garden Market

In DC, we have created a grocery store with one idea in mind- to make climate change progress – one bite at a time – by serving Good Food from close by, and growing relationships with partners, who treat their land, animals and ingredients with respect. Every decision we make for our business is made with the environment in mind. That includes, most impactfully, sourcing our products almost entirely from the states that surround ours. It also includes everything from the building and packaging materials we choose, to the equipment used, to the fact that we purchase wind power credits to offset our energy consumption. It includes our no-waste mandate, our composting and recycling programs, and the fact that we actively encourage environmentally responsible eating and transportation.


Exhibit Hall D

  • 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm       Media Preview (Media Credentials Required)
  • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm       Members-Only Admission
  • 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm       General Admission

Sample nearly 2,000 artisan and specialty cheeses, alongside gourmet foods, beer, and cider at this annual cheese extravaganza! Admission is included for full Conference registrants and Saturday Day Pass holders. Additional tickets are available at the door of the event for $55 for guests of ACS members, and $65 for the general public.


Exhibit Hall D

6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Supporting the American Cheese Education Foundation

Score a bargain on cheeses that scored big in the largest Judging & Competition in ACS history! Buy some of the best cheeses made in North America at great prices as you exit the Festival of Cheese. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation (, which supports ACS’s year-round education efforts, member webinars, scholarships, and industry research.