Say Gazta!

Jess Perrie, the first recipient of the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award (DZTA), is heading to the Basque region of Spain from April 1 – 16 of next year. She will be learning about traditional Basque cheesemaking techniques and how to create cheese in an arid landscape that is similar to that of the western United States.

The DZTA is an annual scholarship given to a food industry professional to further their learning – and their ability to educate others – about cheese. It’s named in honor of Daphne Zepos, one of America’s most inspiring cheese teachers.

Jess Perrie with DZTA checkJess received the DZTA at the 2013 ACS Annual Conference, and she has been busy planning her trip since. She will be visiting Barcelona, Vitoria-Gasteize/University of Basque, Bilbao, and perhaps Girona. Jess chose to travel to Spain because of her interest in the Basque populations in the western U.S. “There is a deep connection between food and tradition in the Basque culture,” said Jess. “In some ways too, I feel the west is still trying to define its role in the cheese community. I hope that learning Basque tradition will help me try to find that role.”

Jess is most looking forward to meeting the Basque cheesemakers and shepherds. “They are the inspiration for my application vision and it will be an honor to meet them, talk to them, and see them work. It will be humbling,” said Jess. To read Jess’ vision statement, please click here.

Jess will continue her journey by presenting a session at the 2014 ACS Annual Conference about her experiences. “I would like to return with more experience and a richer knowledge base from which to draw inspiration,” said Jess.

Jess Perrie - DZTA pic 3Jess also plans to use the knowledge she’s gained from this experience to help cheesemakers in the western U.S. “I hope to inspire those who are interested in artisan cheesemaking in the region and encourage others to follow,” said Jess. While places with Basque populations, like Idaho, have a number of industrial cheesemaking facilities, Jess’ goal is to inspire more traditional methods from a new generation of cheesemakers.

“I only hope that if Daphne were still present, my gained knowledge would impress her and meet her standards,” said Jess.

If you would like to make a donation to the DZTA, visit (mark the donation In Memory of Daphne Zepos) or send checks (with DZTA in the memo line) to:  American Cheese Education Foundation  2696 S. Colorado Blvd. Suite 570  Denver, CO 80222