2019 ACS Conference Speaker Biographies
A transplant from Los Angeles, Omri moved to the Bay Area to finish her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley where she majored in Sociology. She started working at the Cheese Board Collective in 2014; this was also her introduction to the wondrous world of cheese, which she absolutely adores. Her desert island cheese is Comte, she has a soft spot for Harbison, and a deep appreciation for Kirkham’s Lancashire. When not working or snacking, Omri can be found obsessing over her dog, reading a book, or practicing Yoga.
Amanda Bernhardt, ACS CCP
A third generation cheesemonger, Amanda has worked at various cheese shops throughout her career her longest and current tenure at Di Bruno Bros in Philadelphia, PA. An ACS CCP, she is currently the Senior Retail Operations Manager for their five locations and works closely with training and employee development. Amanda also serves on ACS’ Regulatory and Academic committee.
Megan Biango-Daniels, Ph.D.
Megan Biango-Daniels is mycologist with expertise in fungal biology and food spoilage. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Benjamin Wolfe at Tufts University. In the Wolfe lab, she researches the fermented food microbiome, including the bacterial and fungal communities in cheese. Her current research includes a survey of farmhouse and artisan cheesemakers’ quality concerns. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University where she worked in the lab of mycologist Kathie Hodge on an interdisciplinary project between plant pathology and food microbiology that investigated how raw ingredients can influence finished products. Her previous research includes spoilage molds that survive in sea salts and the description of a new apple disease, which makes spores that survive commercial pasteurization. Beyond the lab, she spends much of her time teaching classes ranging from introductory biology to plant disease and has been recognized for her dedication to teaching as a fellow through Cornell’s Center for Teaching Innovation. She focuses on science communication, attending fermentation festivals, writing blog pieces for the Cornell Mushroom Blog and MicrobialFoods.org. Her work has been covered in American Fruit Grower, Country Folks Grower, and Edible Boston magazines. Additionally, she consults on food spoilage issues.
Alyce Birchenough is a charter member of the American Cheese Society and has been a farmstead cheesemaker for over 40 years. She currently serves on ACS’s Judging and Competition committee and is co-chair of the Regulatory and Academic committee. She previously served a 6 year term on ACS’s Board of Directors. She continues to make cheese with a small herd of Guernsey cows alongside her husband at Sweet Home Farm in Elberta, Alabama.
Zoe Brickley, ACS CCP, ACS CCSE
Zoe Brickley began exploring the world of cheese while attending the French Culinary Institute, NYC. From there she took on the role of cave manager and American buyer at Murray’s Cheese after some time spent behind the counter. Currently, Zoe directs development and marketing efforts for Jasper Hill Farm – a small network of farms and creameries with an affinage facility, all dedicated to preserving the working landscape in northern Vermont through farmstead cheese and dry-cured meat production. Zoe enjoys learning more about cheese through teaching, having presented hundreds of hours of content for many organizations over the last decade or so. She is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional, Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator and a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.
Ann Campbell, ACS CCP
Ann Campbell received her Master’s in Science, Technology, and Society from Drexel University, where she studied the history of microbiology and environmental and commodity history, while mongering and leading the team at Di Bruno Bros. Italian Market Store in Philadelphia. She is eager to continue her studies in the history of science as well as to work behind the cheese counter to understand the social, historical components of dairying as the interaction among multiple species and the landscape.
Vanessa Chang, ACS CCP
Vanessa Chang is a Certified Cheese Professional and self-professed lightweight. She’s worked both behind and on the other side of the counter as a food writer and marketing professional, most currently for Laura Chenel in Sonoma, California.
Erin Clancy, ACS CCP
Erin Clancy began her career in cheese at Whole Foods Market. Over her ten years there, her positions included Cheese Buyer, Specialty Associate Team Leader, and Specialty Team Leader. While there she realized her passion for cheese and dove headfirst into education, passing the Certified Cheese Professional exam in 2013. After leaving Whole Foods, Erin took a position at Good Eggs, an online marketplace based in San Francisco, as the Perishable Category Manager focusing efforts on building out specialty cheese and accoutrements selections. Following this position, Erin moved back to the East Coast and became the Partnership Coordinator and BOH Manager for Counter Culture, a two-day educational training designed to introduce cheesemakers and their stories to mongers, retailers, distributors, and other food professionals. Simultaneously, Erin became the National Sales and Tasting Room Manager for The Mystic Cheese Company. She has interned at The Cheese School of San Francisco, worked with Culture Magazine during Cheeselands at the Outside Lands Music Festival, and volunteered for the American Cheese Society in the roles of Conference Cheese Sale Captain (2014), Official Conference Monger (2015), and Judging & Competition Cooler Captain (2017). Erin currently lives in New London, CT and continues her work with Counter Culture.
Stephanie Clark, Ph.D.
Stephanie Clark grew up on a small farm in Massachusetts, where she first started making cheese from milk of her dairy goats. She received her B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) in 1990, and continued on for a M.S. in Food Science (1993). Stephanie earned her Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell University in 1997, then joined the faculty at Washington State University (WSU) in 1998. She was promoted to associate professor, with tenure, in 2004. Dr. Clark joined the faculty of Iowa State University (ISU) in August 2009. She serves as the Associate Director of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, where she oversees the ISU-associated dairy research component of the three-institution center. Her research, which centers broadly around dairy products chemistry, microbiology, processing and sensory evaluation, has been presented in over 75 publications and in over 75 posters and presentations. Stephanie teaches courses in dairy products, scientific communication, and sensory evaluation of foods. She has been the research advisor of more than 35 undergraduate, 20 M.S., and 6 Ph.D. 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 American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), serving in many leadership roles. Dr. Clark served two terms as Section Editor for the Journal of Dairy Science and as an Associate editor for Food Bioscience. She has been the technical advisor of the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition since 2011 and chaired the committee from 2016-2018. Dr. Clark has also shared her dairy foods expertise in Armenia, China, India, and Mexico. In the spring of 2016, Dr. Clark was promoted to professor, and was awarded the Virginia M. Gladney endowed professorship, which she is using to start up a micro-creamery at ISU.
Dairy has always been a central theme in Marnie Clarke’s life. Her grandfather and his brothers started a prominent California dairy in 1945. They had a passion for raw milk and instilled an appreciation for dairy early on in Marnie’s life. Marnie found her love for California cheese while working as a cheesemaker for Winchester Cheese Company. After a few years in the creamery, she discovered she liked talking to consumers about flavors and the method of making cheese more than waking up at 5am to make it. She made the switch from maker to monger, partnering with her sister, Lydia Clarke, and opened a cheese shop in their hometown of Claremont, California. Cheese Cave is a cut to order cheese shop featuring nearly 150 cheeses, an eclectic selection of natural wines and craft beers as well as curated larder. The growing success of Cheese Cave allowed Marnie and Lydia, along with Chef Reed Herrick to open DTLA Cheese and Kitchen in the historic Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles in 2013 which offers a tighter selection of cheeses alongside a seasonal, cheese-centric menu.
Ann Colonna received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry in 1997 from the University of Arizona and followed that with a culinary degree from the Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado and Provence, France. She continued her education at the University of California, Davis where she earned an M.S. degree in Sensory Food Science in 2001 focusing on methods to mask the carry-over effects in the mouth from the astringency in wine. Ann is currently in her 18th year at the Food Innovation Center in Portland, Oregon, an off-campus Oregon State University Experiment Station, where she serves at the Sensory Program Director. She assists industry clients with sensory and consumer testing and collaborates in mission-oriented research designed to advance Northwest agriculture and food products. Recent work includes: perceptions of fresh vs. frozen Black cod, Coho salmon and Albacore tuna, factors affecting consumers’ preferences for and purchasing decisions regarding pasteurized vs raw milk and grass-fed specialty cheeses, evaluating consumer acceptability of new Northwest strawberry varietals, consumer detection and acceptability of reduced-sodium bread, gauging the sensory impacts of steam treatment to combat Salmonella on in-shell hazelnuts, understanding consumer preference for grass-fed beef, analyzing marketing messages for Oregon Pinot Noir wine and exploring the acceptability of dulse seaweed among others.
Bénédicte Coudé currently works as the Director of Cheese R&D at Schuman Cheese. She has been involved with the ACS education committee since 2013 and is passionate about cheese education. She got a Masters in Agricultural Sciences from Montpellier SUPAGRO in France before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received a Master’s in Food Science. After completing her Master’s degree, Bénédicte worked for 5 years at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research focusing on cheese product development and problem-solving issues. She also has been judging at several national and international cheese judging contests.
Dennis D’Amico is an Assistant Professor of Dairy Foods in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut (UConn) where his research and outreach efforts focus on improving the safety and quality of milk and value-added dairy products. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nutrition and Food Sciences and his Ph.D. in Food Microbiology from the University of Vermont. Prior to joining the faculty at UConn he was a founding member of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese where he served as Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer working closely with the artisan cheese industry to develop risk reduction interventions and technical outreach programs. His research continues to examine the presence, ecology, and diversity of microbes in the cheesemaking continuum as well as the natural and novel means of controlling them with a focus on the development and use of natural interventions. Dennis has published more than 60 peer reviewed articles and abstracts on the topic of dairy food safety and quality. He also serves on the board of directors of the American Cheese Society and is an active member of several food safety organizations.
Peter Dixon is a cheesemaker, teacher, and dairy foods consultant from Westminster West, Vermont. He is passionate about elemental cheesemaking, sourcing and producing exceptional milk, harnessing indigenous microbes, cultivating craft, and honoring heritage. Peter made his first cheeses 35 years ago – traditional, soft-ripened cheeses – at his family’s Guilford Cheese Company. Since then he has been engaged in myriad cheesemaking endeavors: Peter made Cheddar at Shelburne Farms and managed production at Vermont Creamery; he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Dairy Science from the University of Vermont, with a focus on seasonal milk production; he developed the original cheeses for Consider Bardwell Farm and Westminster Dairy. As a consultant, Peter has worked in agricultural development projects in Macedonia, Albania, and Armenia and traveled the US, Canada, and China, helping hundreds of cheesemakers to establish small-scale businesses, develop recipes, and design food safety programs. Peter developed the recipe for Cornerstone and is a founding member of the Cornerstone Project. With his wife Rachel, Peter makes raw milk cheese with indigenous cultures at Parish Hill Creamery and offers consultations and workshops for artisan cheesemakers through Dairy Foods Consulting, and Westminster Artisan Cheesemaking in Westminster West, Vermont.
Christopher Eastwood, ACS CCP
Christopher Eastwood has loved cheese his entire life. That love of cheese brought him to Gourmet Foods International, where he has worked as a Retail Account Manager since 2016. His cheese travels have included trips to the Fort des Rousses to admire caverns of Comte and Woerden and Amsterdam to taste Gouda. He has worked with cheesemakers across the spectrum through distribution channels and by coordinating continuing education tastings and panels. Christopher Eastwood was certified as an ACS CCP in 2017. His favorite cheeses rotate between tommes, goudas, and blues.
Jennifer Eastwood, ACS CCP
Jenny Eastwood’s passion for cheese began in the original Bleecker Street caves of New York’s, Murray’s Cheese. Here, she learned and acquired an appreciation for the art of affinage and all-things cheese; later, transitioning to Murray’s retail counter, she applied her in-depth knowledge to the city’s chefs, foodies and turophiles. Since her days at Murray’s, Jenny’s worked with cheese shops, distributors and cheese makers in the United States and Australia. Last summer, she participated in the California Cheese Guild’s inaugural northern California “Cheese Camp,” program. Further education includes her American Cheese Society CCP accreditation (2016); Academie Mons certificates, ‘the Life of Cheese’ (Pt. Reyes Farmstead, 2015) and, Advanced Affinage Training (Jasper Hill, 2018). In 2015, Jenny and her husband, Mike, established their version of retail: Smallgoods American Cheeses & Provisions in San Diego, CA. Forgoing a traditional retail model, Smallgoods manages five busy neighborhood stands within the year-round, Southern California area Farmer’s Markets. Operating like a “catch of the day,” Jenny’s approach features an ever-changing, weekly curation of American cheeses and regional provisions. Most recently, the company’s untraditional business model attracted writer and cheese expert, Janet Fletcher, who feature the company in the winter 2019 edition of Specialty Food magazine. When not behind the market tables, Jenny overseas the company’s growing catering & wholesale divisions, their monthly American Cheese Club and enjoys holding cheese education and pairing classes at wine bars, breweries and restaurants throughout Southern California. After a day of slinging cheese, Cheesemonger Jenny and her cheese-loving “cheesemongrel” Dachshund, can be spotted poking around the tide pools of their local SoCal beaches.
Samuel Edwards III
Samuel W. Edwards III was involved with his family’s business at an early age. His father and grandfather began teaching him the art of producing Edwards Virginia country ham, bacon, and sausage at the youthful age of 10. In the late 1970s, Sam became the third-generation Edwards to take charge of the company. He focused on the specialty food trade and mail order business while opening two Edwards Ham Shops in Surry and Williamsburg, VA. Throughout his career, Sam has expanded the company’s production facility, introduced new products such as the Petite Ham and Surryano as well as cultivate a nationwide support for the “Great American Country Ham”. To this day however, Sam stays focused on the traditional curing techniques that his father and grandfather taught him many years ago. He currently acts as a board member for the National Country Ham Association and serves as immediate past president of the Virginia Association of Meat Processors. Sam is a member of the Direct Marketing Association, the Specialty Food Association, the Virginia Food and Beverage Association, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. Sam holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The University of Richmond School of Business, 1978.
Joshua is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont and has coordinated the Farming and Climate Change Program in UVM Extension’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture for the past six years. He does applied research and outreach on soil, water, and nutrient related issues across the state, and works with farmers on practices and innovative solutions to improve management of these resources and improve farm resilience to climate change. His focus spans from the farmstead to the watershed scale. He has worked on conservation issues in the Chesapeake Bay, New York State, and West Africa. He has a BS from Virginia Tech and an MS and PhD from Cornell, all in soil and water resource engineering. He grew up on a beef farm in southern West Virginia, and now lives in South Starksboro, where he has a small pastured pork farm business.
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. Twenty years later, Meadow Creek Dairy is a nationally recognized farmstead cheese producer. Their cheeses have won numerous awards at ACS in previous years, including a first place in the American Originals category for the Appalachian in 2010, both a first in Farmstead and Second Best of Show for the Grayson in 2008, and a Bronze for their Mountaineer in the 2017 World Cheese Awards. In response to rising demand for their cheeses, the Feetes purchased a neighboring farm in 2014, allowing them to expand first their herd and then their aging cellars. Currently, Helen and her team make three farmstead cheeses – Appalachian, Grayson, and Mountaineer – six days a week, while Rick and son Jim manage the 165 cow, seasonal, grass-based dairies which produce all of the milk for the cheeses. They expect the dairy will produce 125,000 pounds of cheese this year, aiming for a solid and sustainable rate of growth as they move the business forward into the next generation.
Hunter Fike, ACS CCP
Hunter’s passion started as a stock boy at the old original Di Bruno Bros., a culinary institution in Philadelphia. While in college, working weekends, summers and holidays, he developed the passion for food and serving customers which is the hallmark of any great food retailer. After graduating in 2005, he worked his way up to assistant store manager with a daily focus on cheeses of the world and imported specialty charcuterie, as well as the many cheese accompaniments available throughout the store. Through focused, one-on-one trainings with Jason Hinds and Daphne Zepos, icons in the cheese industry, Hunter honed his palate and ability to evaluate cheese. He became the go-to cheese monger to train new employees, as well as the local restaurant servers and chefs. As General Manager of the original location, he solidified himself as an all-around product evaluator, suggesting products for all of the Di Bruno stores. In January of 2013, he was selected as the project manager of the new Di Bruno Bros. “store within a store” concept at the flagship Giant supermarket in Harrisburg, PA. Hunter passed the CCP exam in Madison, WI, after which he became the Category Manager for Cheese & Charcuterie. He now serves as Senior Manager of Training and Storytelling, while continuing to manage Cheese and Charcuterie for retail and eCommerce operations.
Andy Fitzgerrell, ACS CCP, ACS CCSE
Andy has worked in the cheese industry for over a decade. He has logged many years behind multiple retailers’ cheese counters and has been working in distribution for the last 2.5 years. Having worked as a salesman, buyer, manager, educator, category specialist and even food photographer, he continues to enjoy all things cheese. Andy is part of the inaugural group of ACS Certified Cheese Professionals from 2012 and is also part of the inaugural group of ACS Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluators from 2018. Andy created the 2017 ACS conference tasting session “Enjoying Cheese with Chocolate and Beer.” He currently resides in Salt Lake City, UT and is a Cheese Category Specialist for KeHE Distributors.
Vito started making cheese on his kitchen stove top back in 2007 as a hobby. Since then, cheese has become less of a hobby and of more of a career for him. He have apprenticed & worked for several great American cheesemakers, been lucky enough to have traveled to many creameries throughout Europe and the U.S. to learn about different styles of cheese making cheesemongering. Currently, he has been working with some friends and a few small creameries to help them develop new cheese recipes and trouble shoot some small existing problems.
David Gremmels is the President of Rogue Creamery. He is a leader in promoting and supporting American cheese, sustainability, and organic agriculture. David is a past-President and Chairman of the American Cheese Society, and current Ambassadeur, Secretary and Treasurer of the North American Chapter of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers – Confrérie de Saint-Uguzon. In 2006, he received the United Way of Jackson County’s Community Spirit Award. He is the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Marketing award from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. In 2012 and 2016, David was appointed to The Governor’s Sustainability Board of Oregon. In 2014, he registered Rogue Creamery corporate articles and licensing as Oregon’s first Social and Public Benefit Company. In 2015, the Specialty Food Association honored him with the Specialty Food Association’s Leadership Award. David has shown leadership internationally and nationally within the specialty food industry and the artisan cheese industry, as well as leadership on a local basis within the business community, the regional specialty food industry, and the community at large. David has served as a Board of Director for the Specialty Food Association since 2016; United Way of Jackson County since 2002; the Ashland Independent Film Festival since 2016 and was the founder of the Oregon Cheese Guild and Oregon Cheese Festival.
Olivia Haver, ACS CCSE
Olivia Haver launched her cheese career in 2013 as a cheesemonger in New Jersey. Her love of the people behind the stories, as well as the quality in their work, inspired her to take on an internship at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont in 2015. “I immediately realized I was home”, Olivia says of Jasper Hill. Her hard work, talent, and perseverance gained her the title of the Cellars’ first Washed Rind Cheese Specialist. Her role as Specialist included ensuring the quality of each batch that aged in her vault, training and developing the folks working with the washed rind cheeses, as well as strengthening communication between her and the cheesemakers. Her years of sensory training led Olivia to be one of the first ACS Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluators in 2018. “My goal was to age the best products I could, and to do that, I needed to understand them beyond a sensory level”, says Olivia. Olivia now specializes in how Jasper Hill uses data and subjective information to learn about their products and help make quality decisions. With her years of Specialist experience, she is able to marry her love of affinage, sensory evaluation, and compositional data in order to support cheese producers make the quality products with which she first fell in love.
As a licensed cheesemaker with over a decade of industry experience, Andy Johnson brings a great deal of knowledge and expertise to CDR clients looking to develop and refine their products. Though his focus is on specialty cheese with an emphasis on sheep and goat, Andy is involved in nearly every aspect of the CDR Cheese Applications program. From cheese trials and plant visits to short courses and presentations, Andy’s education in business as well as his previous experience as a cheesemaker in three states helps him to assist companies as they navigate all aspects of the industry. Andy is honored to aid U.S. cheesemakers and is passionate about his desire to help them to succeed and make an impact on the industry.
Steve Jones is a cheesemonger, educator, and cheese ambassador. He entered the cheese world in the 1990s, opening several cheese counters in the Midwest. In 2006 Steve launched his own business, Steve’s Cheese, a small retail counter in Portland that quickly developed a cult following. In 2010, the business expanded to become Cheese Bar, a cheese counter and casual restaurant that offers a rotating menu built with artisan and farmstead products. Cheese Bar allows Steve to share his pursuit of interesting cheese and beverage pairings, a passion that he also explored in opening Cheese Annex, a food purveyor located inside The Commons Brewery. In 2015, Steve voyaged further into the food and beverage pairing experience with Chizu, a cheese bar influenced by the aesthetics and dining approach of a sushi bar. His experience also includes wholesaling, brokering, affinage and marketing, while working with Provvista Specialty Foods, Neal’s Yard Dairy, the Cheese School of San Francisco and Food by Hand. He is a founding member of the Portland Beer and Cheese Festival, the Portland Firkin Fest, and Portland’s The Wedge Festival. Steve has participated in national and international cheesemongering competitions, winning the second Cheesemonger Invitational in New York City. He has served multiple times as a judge for the American Cheese Society’s annual competition, the Good Food Awards, Oregon Beer Awards, and the American Dairy Goat Association. Steve’s work has received accolades in numerous regional and national media outlets, including The New York Times, Sunset Magazine, Travel + Leisure, and Culture. He has appeared in local and national radio and TV spots, including Portland’s Live Wire radio show, NPR’s The Splendid Table, and Good Day Oregon. Steve co-authored his first book with Adam Lindsley, “Cheese Beer Wine Cider: A Field Guide to 75 Perfect Pairings,” which was released in March 2019.
Kerry Kaylegian, Ph.D.
Dr. Kerry E. Kaylegian is an Assistant Research Professor 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, and cultured products, and assists with the ice cream short courses. Her research is focused on creating resources for small-scale cheesemakers to improve the safety and quality of their cheese and meet food safety regulations. 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) and the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild and is on the Board of Directors for the American Cheese Society and the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest. 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.
Andy Kehler started Jasper Hill Farm with his brother Mateo in 2003 where they produce a wide range of cheeses from the milk of their herd of 45 Ayrshire cows. In 2008 they started a new venture, the Cellars at Jasper Hill, a 22,000 square foot underground aging facility, to lower the barriers to entry for new cheesemakers by maturing, marketing and selling cheeses, managing logistics and administration and providing technical support to artisan cheese makers. The Cellars at Jasper Hill is committed to developing economic mechanisms to keep Vermont’s working landscape working.
Graduate from two national schools of dairy industries in France (ENIL), Sébastien holds a degree in thermal and climatic engineering, Sébastien’s resume includes five years of employment in cheese factories (soft pasta with flowers, washed, pressed pasta), six years working in dairy processes (SPX – APV). For the past 11 years, Sébastien has excelled as the expert of cheese for Clauger and serves as the lead in any project relating to this market. He works in tandem with the clients, salesmen and engineers to define and design air conditioning systems for ripening cellars.
Eduardo was born in London but grew up in Venezuela. There he studied Mechanical Engineering at the Universidad Simón Bolivar. He also holds a Master’s from Cornell University and a PhD from the University of Michigan. He became interested in Lean in 1993 while at Cornell. He studied everything he found on Lean and the Toyota Production System. And, when he returned to Venezuela he experimented with Lean tools, such as kanban and SMED, at the steel pipe factory where he became plant manager. Although progress was made, he was unhappy with his understanding of Lean and decided to return to school. He did his research at the University of Michigan under Dr. Jeff Liker, focusing on transforming organizations that faced high levels of variability. After finishing his doctoral degree, he moved to Brussels and spent over 5 years at the Toyota Technical Center. He worked for the chief engineer function and focused on vehicle development projects, on promoting quality activities to prevent problems at the source, and on improving the overall vehicle development process in Europe. After leaving Toyota he went into consulting and founded Custom Lean Systems. His clients tend to be smaller companies facing high variability, mostly in the US and the UK. Eduardo’s approach to Lean transformation is based on the development of people through the improvement of their processes. He uses Lean as a guiding philosophy and Kata as a way to help people develop the skills and mental patterns required to drive improvement in their organizations. In 2018 Eduardo joined three other independent consultants and formed Dobilo. A company, at the center of a network of professionals with a variety of backgrounds, who bring their expertise to bear on projects to make a lasting impact on business and society in support of a habitable planet.
Seth Leach is a 7th generation dairy farmer in Pawlet, a small town located in the Mettawee Valley of southern Vermont. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Seth returned to Woodlawn Farm after college and took over the business officially in 2016. Since then, he has focused on improving the farm’s efficiency and profitability by increasing feed self-sufficiency, reclaiming pasture, and building relationships with artisan cheese makers who value Woodlawn’s superior milk quality. He and his wife Kate are happy to be raising their two boys, Logan and James, on a traditional but forward-thinking family farm.
Jessica Little, ACS CCP
Jessica Little grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Brooks County, Georgia where she participated in 4-H and cleaned her share of water troughs over summer vacations. After swearing to never live in south Georgia, she moved right back from Atlanta after receiving a degree in business administration. Along the way, she fell in love with the hospitality industry and future husband, Jeremy, who in turn fell in love with making artisan cheeses. After working at Sweet Grass Dairy for three years, Jessica and Jeremy were given the opportunity to purchase the business in 2005 and have since won over 30 national and international awards with the line of six regular cheeses and several seasonal options. The business also includes a Cheese Shop and busy restaurant in the heart of downtown Thomasville that focuses on storied ingredients from like-minded producers. Jessica is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, while also being the proud mother of four crazy boys. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans & Chefs of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an ACS Certified Cheese Professional, as well as on the board of the Southern Cheesemakers Guild. Jessica was recently inducted to the prestigious international Guilde de Fromagers dedicated to promoting cheese knowledge around the world. She also serves on the board of an equine therapy riding center called Hands and Hearts for Horses.
David Lockwood is a partner and managing director of Neal’s Yard Dairy. He has attended ACS conferences since 1989, served as a judge and currently on the Judging and Competition Committee. He also sits on the Specialist Cheesemakers Committee in the UK.
Eric Meredith stepped into the food world as a dishwasher in a hospital kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts at the age of 14. He then attended Johnson & Wales University to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts and a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Nutrition. He chose to further his education by becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in NYC. After a brief stint at Murrays on Bleeker St., Eric went to work for Herve Mons in France as his right-hand man helping him design his tunnel in Ambierle and running the day-to-day operations at the caves in St Haon le Chatel. During his 6 years in France Eric learned cheese making from the best artisans in France and affinage from Herve’s network of affineurs. Eric’s next big project was with Wegmans in Rochester, NY where he designed, built and managed their affinage facility. Eric then moved to London to work with Neal’s Yard Dairy as the project manager facilitating the design and move to their new aging and distribution facility in London. After moving back to the USA in the summer of 2018, Eric is now working, ‘on the ground,’ in the USA for Neal’s Yard Dairy spreading the love and knowledge of artisan British cheeses. He also volunteers his time on the education committee for the American Cheese Society, where he stretches the boundaries and strives for excellence in artisan stewardship. Eric also started a consulting business helping cheese makers, affineurs and retailers all over the world design, troubleshoot and fine tune cheese making and affinage programs and facilities.
Emilio is a third-generation owner at Di Bruno Bros. and serves as the Vice President of Culinary Pioneering. Emilio has helped to grow the family business from one small store to what it is today; a company with five retail stores, a successful e-commerce business, a busy import, distribution and manufacturing business, a growing catering operation and an independent commissary kitchen. He’s always on the quest for the latest and greatest eats and loves telling the stories of the makers behind them. His expertise and passion for food has helped him to grow Di Bruno Bros. cheese offering from 50 varieties to well over 800 cheeses from all over the world. He’s helped write the esteemed Certified Cheese Professional Exam—the highest standard for cheese professionals and sat on the ACS board. He currently sits on the Board Of Directors of the SFA. In 2010, the Italian Trade Commission acclaimed Emilio for “Distinguished Service” in importing, representing, and educating on Italian Food and Culture. The James Beard Foundation also honored him for his help in making Philadelphia a world-class food city. In 2015, Emilio proudly helped launch The Good Food Retailers Collaborative. Emilio still works Saturdays in the Italian Market store, where it all began.
Sue Miller is a dairy farmer and a cheesemaker. With her husband and two sons, Sue owns and operates Birchrun Hills Farm in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. The Millers run a vivacious herd of dairy cows on fertile pastures, and you can taste the vibrant milk in Sue’s cheeses. As a longtime board member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Sue championed educational offerings for dairy farmers and cheesemakers. On the PA Cheese Guild Steering Committee, Sue is actively building a community of knowledgeable cheesemakers and cheese lovers. And as a member of the American Cheese Society Education Committee, Sue passionately promotes artisanal cheese and cheesemakers, helping to develop a supportive network for cheesemakers through continuing education for all members.
Jeffery Mitchell, ACS CCP
An unabashed cheese liberal, Jeffery Mitchell sliced into the cheese industry after decades in commercial photography. After departing Kodak’s Digital and Applied Imaging Division, Mitchell started a Culpeper, Virginia neighborhood wine and cheese shop. His love for cheese soon overtook the wine store (The Frenchman’s Cellar) which was subsequently re-branded Culpeper Cheese Company, “CCC”, to reflect the focus of his passion. CCC pioneered artisanal and farmstead cheeses in a cut to order cheese counter and subsequent cheese-themed restaurant. CCC developed a following over a decade and earned multiple local accolades including “Best Small Business” and “Best Customer Service”, together with successive Certificate of Excellence awards from TripAdvisor. Mitchell has actively pursued cheese education earning his ACS-CCP certification in 2015. He attended Jasper Hill’s Cheese Camp and is frequently found at dairies learning more about cheese. His cheese contributions include work for SAVOR, ACS Cheese Sale Lead 2017-19, Founding partner Bleu & Brew Cheese and Beer Festival together with his local cheese column, Curd Quips. Mitchell’s professional interests in sustainable agriculture solutions, food distribution systems, and culinary arts together with community and economic development are now converging as an expansive public / private collaboration with two primary facets. The first facet is one that aims to develop an experiential retail and restaurant destination centered on cheese. The second facet is to make local cheeses with milk sourced from local dairies in conjunction with the George Washington Carver Agricultural Research Center in Culpeper, Virginia.
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’s of Business Administration Degree. 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 a Wisconsin licensed Buttermaker and Cheesemaker and 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.
Tina Mooney, ACS CCP
Elizabeth Nerud, ACS CCP
Liz Nerud has been joyfully cheesemongering and honing her craft for the past two decades in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Liz currently manages the Cheese Department Kowalski’s Woodbury Market, where she delights in bringing customers and cheeses together. A born storyteller, she finds the lore, chemistry and craft of cheese endlessly fascinating with always more to learn and discover. Toward that end, Liz obtained her ACS CCP certification in 2013, and participated in the Cheesemonger Invitational competition in 2015. A proud Wisconsin native, Liz has roamed the backroads of the Midwest extensively to seek out cheesemakers and retailers who are doing exciting things in our dynamic and ever-evolving industry. She teaches, writes and organizes events to celebrate and promote artisan cheese to the public. Just ask Liz what drives her, she’ll tell you: “Cheese can save the world!” When she’s not cheesing it, Liz loves spending time with her husband and cats. Hanging out with a groovy crowd of hipster friends in the Minneapolis arts and music scene is her thing. Find her and tell her your ghost story!
Linh has been at the Cheese Board for about 7 years. After university, she had a brief stint working in developmental finance in Ha Noi and Palo Alto, but realized early on that wasn’t the career path she wanted to go down. Before working at the collective, she worked as a pastry chef at Satura Cakes in Los Altos, was involved in the Underground Farmer’s Market and collaborated with a brave little pre-Blue Apron startup called Culture Kitchen. These days at the Cheese Board, you can find her running around answering questions about cheese, baking, fiddling with spreadsheets, taking out the trash or doing whatever else needs to get done in the store.
Chris has worked in the food industry most of his life. He started working in kitchens when he graduated college and fell in love with using fresh, local ingredients. In 2011 that lead him to Capriole Goat Cheese, where he started his apprenticeship as a cheesemaker. Chris eventually worked his way up from apprentice to General Manager of Capriole. He would oversee everything from make procedures, to shipping and everything in between. In 2015 Chris had the opportunity to join the cheese program at Blackberry Farm in East Tennessee, which processes small batch sheep’s milk cheeses. Chris manages the cheese program from start to finish. In his time at Blackberry Farm they have won numerous awards for their delicious sheep’s milk cheeses.
Francis Percival writes on food and wine for The World of Fine Wine. His work won Louis Roederer Best International Wine Columnist in 2013 and Pio Cesare Food & Wine Writer of the Year in 2015. Francis is also a judge in The World of Fine Wine World’s Best Wine List Awards. Apart from The World of Fine Wine, his work has appeared in Decanter and the Financial Times in the UK and Culture, Saveur, and Gourmet in the US. Together with Bronwen Percival, he is the author of Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese (University of California Press). Reinventing the Wheel was Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Book of the Year 2017 and won a 2018 Gourmand Award. It was also longlisted for the 2018 Art of Eating Prize.
Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel is Dirigo Food Safety’s President and CEO. Dr. P earned her BA in Economics and Geology from Wellesley College, after which she served in the Peace Corps in Irbid, Jordan. In her second year of study at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, the future Dr. P was chosen for the prestigious Health Professions Scholarship Program through the US Army. Upon receiving her DVM, Dr. P commissioned into the US Army Veterinary Corps, where she learned the food safety skills she now brings to producers and processors across the country. After fulfilling her active duty commitment, Dr. P settled with her family in Southern Maine, where they raise chickens and the occasional ruminant, experiment in the kitchen, and explore the woods around their home. Dr. P uses her training as a HACCP auditor through ASQ to enhance her consultation and help clients prepare for 3rd party audits. A sought after speaker, Dr. P has taught food safety workshops at the Stone Barns Center, PigStock TC, the Wallace Center Food Hub Conference, the New England Meat Conference, and the Empowering Women Veterans in Business and Agriculture Conference.
Pat Polowsky, ACS CCP
Pat Polowsky most recently was a product development manager on Walmart’s Private Brand team supporting the deli and gourmet category. Previously he’s worked in Vermont and Wisconsin, focusing on cheese research. In his free time, he runs cheesescience.org, an online educational toolbox for all things cheese. He has bachelors and master’s degrees in Food Science.
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. Also, 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 thrice before, in Montreal, Raleigh, and Pittsburgh.
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 www.quickes.co.uk, and writes an award-winning column for Devon Life www.devonlife.co.uk.
Rachel, known amongst friends as “Juhl” and for her footwear, grew up in cheese and specialty food when her mother bought a cheese shop in Salt Lake City, UT. From a young age, she had a passion for project planning, training staff, and learning as much as she could about food and the people behind them. She graduated from Queens College in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Food and Nutrition. She joined the founders of the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award and Essex Street Cheese in 2012, where she still puts to use her enthusiasm for people, cheese, and how the two are inextricably linked. She currently travels quarterly to European cheesemakers, returning home to then visit cheesemongers around America and share what she has learned, channeling a passion and pride in the art of cheesemongering. “If you know more about the people and land you are representing, you will derive more joy and meaning from your job” – this ethos is what propels her work. Juhl currently lives in Virginia and spends her free time recipe-testing, playing with her pug, MaddieRae McSnorts, and collecting vinyl records.
Rachel Fritz Schaal makes seasonal, handmade, raw milk cheese at Parish Hill Creamery in Westminster West, VT. Since 2006, Rachel has worked with cheesemakers first as the Educational Outreach Director for PASA, then as Coordinator and eventually President of the Vermont Cheese Council. Her mission is to goad and inspire cheesemakers to make the very best cheese possible: preaching the gospel of small farms, exceptional milk, traditional methods, and the education necessary to make folk cheese in the modern world. As a founding member of the Cornerstone Project, Rachel hopes to share both the cheese and the mission with cheesemakers near and far. With her husband Peter Dixon, Rachel makes raw milk cheese with indigenous cultures at Parish Hill Creamery and offers consultations and workshops for artisan cheesemakers through Dairy Foods Consulting, and Westminster Artisan Cheesemaking in Westminster West, Vermont.
Matt Ranieri is a food scientist with extensive industry experience in food manufacturing, cheesemaking, food safety and quality. He completed degrees in food science (BS) dairy microbiology (MS) and food safety (PhD) at Cornell University. After graduation, Matt worked at Browns Cheese in Tigoni, Kenya and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in NY. Today he is the Director of Technical Services at Acme Smoked Fish Corp., the largest traditional fish smoking operation in the US. He continues to consult in areas of food safety, quality and product development.
Richard Rogers, ACS CCP
Rich Rogers, proprietor/cheesemonger of Scardello, discovered his passion for food at an early age in his hometown of Dalhart, Texas. Rogers has parlayed this love into a family business with Scardello, which opened in October 2008 in Dallas’ Oak Lawn/Turtle Creek neighborhood. The shop is named after Rogers’ grandfather, Peter Scardello, who taught him the love of cooking and sharing wonderful food with friends and family. In 2016 Scardello opened a second location in the Dallas Farmers Market. Scardello was named “Best Adult Education” by D Magazine in 2009 for its Cheese 101 class, “Best of the City” by Modern Luxury Dallas in 2010 and “Best Cheese Shop” by the editors of D magazine in 2011-2013 and 2015-2018. Scardello was also selected as the best by D magazine readers in 2015. The Dallas Observer named Scardello the “Best Picnic Plan” in 2015, “Best Cheese Shop Not to Fall Asleep In” in 2012 and Rogers was named “Best Cheesemonger” in 2011. Rogers is a member of the American Cheese Society, Chair of the ACS Judging and Competition Committee, and an ACS Certified Cheese Professional.
A resident of Montpelier Vermont, Jeff Roberts is president of Cow Creek Creative Ventures, dedicated to creating solutions in the areas of agriculture and food policy, conservation and the environment. He was co-founder and principal consultant at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont. His book, The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green, 2007), was the first comprehensive survey of small-scale producers. He is a member of Guilde Internationale des Fromagers. He teaches the history and culture of food at the New England Culinary Institute, is a visiting professor at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Science, provides consulting services to a wide array of small-scale food producers, and is a frequent speaker in Europe, Mexico and the United States on artisan food, sustainable agriculture, and the working landscape. His book Salted & Cured: Savoring the Culture, Heritage and Flavor of America’s Preserved Meats (Chelsea Green, 2017) examines the history and culture of dry-cured meat from 1630 to the present. Recent initiatives include collaboration with colleagues on guided history and culture tours in the regions of Molise, Piemonte, and Trento Italy and Vermont. During his career, Jeff was a meteorologist, museum curator and historian, and director of development at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. From 1987 – 1994, he was associate dean for at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. From 1995 – 1998, he was vice president for external affairs for the Vermont Land Trust. For more than a decade, Jeff was active in Slow Food International and USA, including service as a director and treasurer of the national board; locally he served as a director of the Central Vermont Community Land Trust; Vermont Arts Council; and Vermont Fresh Network.
A native Virginian, Roberts joined the Edwards team in 2010 where he works closely with third-generation President & Cure Master Sam Edwards III to educate Americans on the company’s time-honored tradition of curing and smoking meats. As the “Resident Hamevangelist”, his message is focused on preserving the rich history and heritage of local Virginia Foodways, as well as all the Commonwealth has to offer the culinary world. With over 40 years’ experience in the food service industry, he has found his true passion and enjoys nothing more than sharing his knowledge of The Great American Country Ham with charcuterie lovers across the country.
Lisa Roberts is the production and food manager at Zingerman’s Mail Order (ZMO), the ecommerce food shop that’s one of nine members of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ZMO has annual revenues of $16 million, employs a full-time staff of 80 and a seasonal holiday crew of 300. It ships a range of hard-to-find foods, from dry goods like olive oil to perishables like hand-cut cheese. Lisa worked with engineer Eduardo Lander to develop ZMO’s cheese cutting and fulfillment system, which is based on Toyota’s lean manufacturing principles. This past holiday, a crew of six cut hand cut and wrapped over 5,000 pieces of cheese a day, each piece going from wheel to box to UPS in under four hours.
Elena Santogade, ACS CCP
Elena is currently the producer and host of the cheese industry podcast, Cutting the Curd, and the co-host of Wisconsin’s The State of Cheese educational video series. Elena began her career as a cheesemonger and retailer. She opened and managed two New York City specialty food shops, Campbell Cheese & Grocery and Le District, and went on to work for Connecticut-based Arethusa Farm and Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont. In 2017 her book, The Beginner’s Guide to Cheesemaking, was published by Rockridge Press. Elena facilitates the “Women in Cheese”, a New York City based network of cheese professionals, and currently consults on business operations for independent retailers and small cheese businesses. She sits on the ACS Education Committee, is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and judges cheese and specialty food competitions around the country. Elena is based in Brooklyn, NY and regularly writes about, talks about––and enjoys! ––cheese.
Ralph Schlatter is a 5th generation dairy farmer from Northwest Ohio. In the mid 90’s he transitioned his conventional dairy farm and Registered Holsteins to a grass based grazing dairy operation now consisting of Normandes. In 2007 he and his family quit selling milk on the commodity market and started Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese. Although Canal Junction Farm is not certified organic, they have not used any commercial fertilizers or pesticides since 1993. He has witnessed how the soil life has changed over the years. He now uses organic inputs like liquid fish, calcium, and maxi-crop, and has witnessed the awakening of the soils when he walks out in the pastures in the spring after a rain and hears the earthworm activity. Ralph is amazed how the animals can tell the difference between the hay that is raised on his farm and hay that they purchase.
Dany Schutte, ACS CCP
Over the last decade and a half, Dany Schutte’s culinary journey has taken her through Austin, TX; San Francisco, CA and back home to Richmond, VA. Working for places like HEB’s Central Market, Whole Foods Market, Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market and Southern Season. Dany tested for and achieved her Certified Cheese Professional Certification in 2013, setting her into an elite but growing set in the cheese industry. She has taught yearly at the Virginia Wine Expo for four years, presented at 2016 Fire, Flour and Fork, along with a dozen or so venues over the same course of time. She brings passion for cheese, adventurous pairings and spirit of being a Virginian to everything she does. Currently is a Cheese Specialist for Publix 1589 in Glen Allen, Virginia.
Kari Skibbie has always had a love for agriculture. She grew up on a hobby farm among the horses, steers, chickens, pigs, goats, dogs, and cats, and eventually earned an Agricultural Business degree with an Animal Science minor at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, followed by an MBA from University of Wisconsin -Eau Claire. After college, Kari took a role in animal husbandry doing dairy cow nutrition and managing a calf network system with Purina Feed and Land O’Lakes. Her leap into the wonderful world of cheese began with her role as national sales manager for the award-winning Wisconsin Cheese brand, Marieke Gouda. After discovering her new passion, Kari became a WI licensed cheesemaker. Currently, Kari serves as Manager – Dairy Company Communications at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, formally Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), where she serves the WI dairy farmers through the national checkoff program by helping cheese and dairy companies increase their sales, which helps increase demand for WI dairy milk. Kari is very active in her community and has been on the city council, a member of the junior chamber of commerce, and is a volunteer EMT for the Thorp Fire District. Kari loves to travel but her favorite place is to be home with her husband, 2 daughters, 1 horse, and 2 dogs.
For the past 20 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 dairy industry. He is passionate about cheese and the industry and holds a commercial cheese makers qualification. He has been judging dairy products in the major competitions in Australia since 1998. Russell has been running an Australia wide judge training program since 2011. He is the Chief Judge for the Australian Grand Dairy Awards and also the chief judge for the Royal Queensland Cheese and Dairy Show. He has also been the master judge for the New Zealand Cheese Awards for the past ten years. He judged the World Cheese Championships in Wisconsin in 2012, 2014, 2016, & 2018 and has been an international technical judge for American Cheese Society Competition in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 and conducts a judge training program for the ACS. 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 is the safety coordinator at the Center for Dairy Research. She acts as a liaison to regulatory agencies and assists manufacturers with their food safety plans. She is currently the vice president of ACS and sits on various committees such as the R & A and nomination committees. She, also, has judged for a number of years for the ACS competition.
For the past 15 years Dean has served as a Cheese Technologist at the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In this role Dean serves as a technical resource to the Wisconsin and United States cheese industries. Dean’s work includes teaching sections in various CDR short courses; answering technical questions from cheese makers, suppliers, cheese customers in retail, food service and industrial channels, and journalists. Dean also performs consulting and troubleshooting for cheese makers, cheese buyers, brokers, end users, food companies, and cut and wrap operations. Prior to this Dean worked for 18 years at one of Wisconsin’s largest cheese manufacturers as VP Technical Services and VP Operations.
Bill Stephenson is the Director of Cheese Training at DPI Specialty Foods where he’s worked since 2006. Bill developed DPI’s Cheese Pro training series which was the first to be accorded the title “ACS CCP Authorized Corporate Trainer.” Prior to focusing exclusively on education, Bill spent several years coordinating cheese importing for DPI Specialty Foods. Bill earned his M.S. in Food Science from the University of California, Davis in 2003. He received the ‘Diploma In Brewing’ certification from the Institute of Brewers and Distillers in 2003 and completed Washington State University’s cheesemaking short course in 2004. Bill is an active board member for the Cheese Importers Association of America and served as Committee Chairperson for the ACS Certification Committee from 2015-2018.
Anna Thomas Bates, co-owner of Landmark Creamery, came to cheese through a love of local food and all things produced in small batches. She is a food writer, authoring a weekly cooking column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and writing for regional publications like Edible Madison. While searching for a story, she met her current business partner, Anna Landmark. While drinking homemade Old Fashioneds, they plotted a partnership crafting lush cheeses from rich sheep milk and buttery pasture-grazed cow milk, all from small family farms in Wisconsin. They launched Landmark Creamery in 2013. Thomas-Bates is in charge of sales, marketing and logistics. She also has 4 trophies from the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship held annually in Dodgeville, WI.
Andrew attended Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) where he studied Play-writing & Microbiology. In 2010 while living in New York City, Andrew took an internship working in Murray’s cheese caves and immediately realized that cheese served as a perfect vehicle to combine his love of art & science. From there Andrew worked as a cheesemaker over the next 7 years at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Cato Corner & Capriole. In 2017 Andrew transitioned to a food safety role at Eataly where he hopes to provide assistance and guidance to small producers interested in improving their internal food safety systems and comply with new local and FDA governmental regulations.
Jen Walsh, Vice President of Insights & Strategy at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, is a consumer insight professional with 20+ years of experience in market research. With a keen eye for concise and actionable insights, she is adeptly able to translate the voice of the consumer into strategic opportunities. Prior to joining Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin in 2015, Jen worked with clients in a variety of industries including consumer packaged goods, retail, financial services, and healthcare. She believes that most of life’s problems can be solved with a long nap, a good laugh, and an aged cheddar.
Andrea Wandt, ACS CCP
Andi entered the world of artisan food and beverage at Whole Foods Market in a variety of roles including wine and beer buyer, cheesemonger, and Specialty team leader. Working behind the counter, she fell in love with the history and terroir of cheese and became an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional in 2016. Andi’s passion for cheese (and a well-timed visit to Shelburne Farms) is what inspired her move to Burlington, Vermont from south Florida to pursue a career in cheesemaking. After joining Shelburne Farms as an assistant cheesemaker, she became Head Cheesemaker in 2018. Andi currently serves as Secretary of the Vermont Cheese Council and chair of the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival.
Ari Weinzweig is CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, which includes Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Bakehouse, Creamery, Catering, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Coffee Company, Roadhouse, Candy Manufactory, Events at Cornman Farms. And the newest business, Miss Kim, which serves great tasting Korean fare. Zingerman’s produces and sells all sorts of full flavored, traditional foods in its home of Ann Arbor, Michigan to the tune of $60,000,000 a year in annual sales. Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the 2006 James Beard Foundation and has awarded a Bon Appetit Lifetime Achievement Award among many recognitions. Ari is the author of a number of articles and books, including Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon (Zingerman’s Press), Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating (Houghton Mifflin), Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business, and Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 2: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Being a Better Leader. Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 3; A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves, was released in December of 2013. Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4; A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business was released in summer of 2016. In 2017 Ari was named one of “The World’s 10 Top CEOs (They Lead in a Totally Unique Way)” by Inc. Magazine. His most recent publication is the pamphlet, “The Art of Business; Why I Want to be an Artist.”
Since the start of his career, Jesse Werner—a native Vermonter and passionate cheesemaker—always held a vision to help preserve the working landscape of his beloved Vermont and took on the momentous task of reviving the Plymouth Cheese Factory and original 1890 Coolidge-era granular curd cheese recipe that the first European settlers brought to the new world. Just as this old-world formula was revitalized by Werner, the antique cheese factory and its equipment were also brought back to life, the result of which became an artisanal cheese company that today crafts cheeses all cut and waxed by hand, the way it was done over 125 years ago on the Plymouth homestead. During the process of making cheese, so many variables must galvanize with just the right alchemy, synchrony and balance to create something perfect – with one constant: to make great cheese you need to use the best and highest quality raw milk.
Andrew Westrich is a dairy farmer groupie going back to his childhood days visiting his relatives’ farms peppering them with questions while ‘helping’ with chores. A chance encounter with a slice of Roquefort on a high school trip to France was love at first bite and he’s been hooked on cheese ever since. His love for agriculture and all things dairy eventually led to a career in dairy foods marketing at Land O’Lakes and he is currently Brand Manager for Cheese, Butter, Yogurt and Other Dairy at Organic Valley. Work in both conventional and organic dairy gives him a balanced and broad view of the challenges faced by the entire industry. His undergraduate degree is from St. John’s University in Collegeville and he has a Master’s in Business from the University of Minnesota.