Via the Wall Street Journal, a report on the first ever Certified Cheese Professional Exam, conducted by the American Cheese Society at the big conference in Raleigh:
Cheesemongers, cheesemakers and cheese mavens will meet Wednesday to pursue a fresh title: certified cheese whiz.
The 29th annual convention of the American Cheese Society—a trade group for the artisan, farmstead and specialty cheese industry—is the place to be this week for cheeseheads. There, for the first time, the ACS will offer for 150 people the Certified Cheese Professional Exam, a test in expertise that has been ripening for seven years.
“It’s kind of like a sommelier,” said the ACS executive director Nora Weiser, “but for cheese.”
Spots for the three-hour, 150-question, multiple-choice test in Raleigh, N.C., opened in October and were filled by January, with more than 25 people already signed up for next year’s.
Who are these cheese fans? The first bunch of test-takers varies in experience and age: 20 people have worked with cheese for more than 10 years and 75 for fewer than five years, according to ACS data. Aspiring cheese professionals needed 4,000 hours of work experience and formal education just to be eligible for the exam. Most come from the U.S., though one person is flying from Australia.
Test-takers aren’t allowed to bring Camembert, much less munch on it, but are allowed to use calculators. During a preparatory webinar in May, the ACS provided five sample questions, including one with old-fashioned arithmetic: “How many ounces of fat are there in a 1-pound cheese of 65% moisture content and 70% fat in dry matter?” (3.92 ounces.)
“I don’t think I ever had a question like that in any of my math classes,” said Elena Santogade, the lead cheesemonger at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in New York.
Another sample question asked about appearance: “When receiving Epoisses cheese, what visual aspects should you inspect to ensure the quality of the cheese?” (Free of broken rind and pooling of liquid cheese.)
Good luck to all the test takers! Included among them are Elena Santogade, lead cheesmonger at Beecher’s (aka Wannabemonger on Tumblr), Dimitri Saad of Casselula Cheese & Wine Cafe and many others. More will take the exam in the years to come, but it would be pretty cool to be part of the very first class.
Read the full article here.