For those venturing into the burgeoning world of American farmstead cheeses there is probably no better point of entry than New York’s Saxelby Cheesemongers, and there is perhaps no better tour guide than the store’s founder and namesake Anne Saxelby. Saxelby has dedicated her career to promoting the craft of American cheesemaking, and at her flagship cheese shop in Manhattan’s Essex Market, hungry shoppers can indulge in some of the best dairy products the northeastern United States has to offer.
Saxelby began her career as an art student at New York University, but it was during an early employment opportunity at New York’s most celebrated cheesemonger Murray’s Cheese that she fell in love with the dairy staple. Her stint at Murray’s led her to an internship at Cato Corner Farm, a small dairy and artisan cheese producer in Colchester, Connecticut, where she began to open her eyes to the immense world of American farmstead cheeses. From there, Saxelby began traveling around the United States and eventually Europe, visiting small family dairy farms and educating herself about the artisan cheesemaking process.
From the beginning of her career, Saxelby knew that she wanted to open her own business, but it took her a while to find her niche within the specialty food landscape. While traveling in Paris, she became acquainted with Fromagerie Laurent Dubois, a gourmet store specializing only in artisan cheeses. It occurred to her that there was no equivalent to this shop in New York City. “In New York, you find all these specialty food stores, but there was nobody just focused on cheese and dairy,” she said. “Cheese is where my expertise is. I’m not an expert on olive oil. I’m not an expert on vinegar. I’m not an expert on the best olive or cured meat selection. So this is perfect for me.”
In 2006, Saxelby first opened her eponymous shop in the eclectic Essex Market on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The modest shop occupies a mere 150 square feet and includes a long counter, finishing at a simple 3-foot cheese case. A walk-in refrigerator rounds out the location, where shoppers can pick up milk, cream, butter and other dairy staples. Saxelby in part credits the small size of the shop with its continued success. “It allows us to really move through products and rotate things and change product constantly,” she said.
The business philosophy behind Saxelby Cheesemongers is simple: the promotion of American farmstead cheeses produced at small, independent dairy farms in the American Northeast. “American farmstead is not only delicious, but it is made locally, and it is about supporting local farmers,” Saxelby said. “The goal was then as it is today to be a bridge between the farm and the person eating the cheese.”
Saxelby offers customers a carefully curated selection of artisan cheeses produced by farmers who she knows by name at farms she and her staff have visited themselves. Although always looking to learn about new farmers and bring her customers something fresh, Saxelby does admit to having a few favorite cheesemakers. She praised The Cellars at Jasper Hill for its consistent commitment to producing great cheeses. Of West Cornwall, Vermont-based Twig Farm, she says, “They are unparalleled in terms of flavor and quality and nuance.” She also expressed particular admiration for Cazenovia, New York’s Meadowood Farms.
When it comes to the particular cheeses that are most popular among Saxelby Cheesemongers’ customers, it can be difficult to pin down a specific favorite, as the selection is constantly in flux. However, there are a few standouts Saxelby points out as particularly in demand. The Ledyard from Meadowood Farms is a current top seller – a soft-ripened sheep’s milk cheese wrapped in grape leaves that have been soaked in local beer. Woodcock Farm’s Summer Snow, a sheep’s milk camembert-style cheese, is another favorite. And Cabot Clothbound Cheddar form the Cellars at Jasper Hill is a perpetual bestseller.
At Saxelby Cheesemongers, Anne Saxelby attempts to create a unique shopping experience that lures cheese aficionados and beginners alike away from the supermarket cheese case and into this dedicated space where she can offer them something that they simply cannot get anywhere else. “We’re really fun. Everyone that works at Saxelby, we have a really distinct passion for these cheeses. The experience is going to be a lot different from going to a grocery store. We are not intimidating, but try to educate through taste,” she said.
“We also have a selection of things you’re probably not going to find at the grocery store. The quality of the cheese we have is amazing, because we are cut-to-order, and we move through our inventory really quickly,” Saxelby added.
In addition, Saxelby and her staff pride themselves on the personal service they are able to provide, guiding the customer to the particular cheese of their dreams. “We are a cut-and-wrap cheese counter. Nothing is pre-cut. Nothing is pre-packaged. When a customer comes up to the counter, we play‘cheese detective’ and try to snuff out what they are looking for,” she said. “We give as many samples as people may want … We really just try to ask questions and see what people are looking for.”
With the holiday season approaching, Saxelby invites holiday shoppers to come into her shop to pick out the perfect cheese selection for a cocktail party or holiday get-together. And for those traveling home to spend the season with family, Saxelby Cheesemongers offers shoppers a special selection that is sure to surprise and delight loved ones.
For Saxelby, American farmstead cheese is a personal passion that extends well beyond her professional commitments and into her basic philosophies about life. And this commitment to our country’s vast cheese landscape shows itself in the quality of products that Saxelby Cheesemongers offers, as well as in the shop’s quality of service.
“For me, the pleasure of eating artisan cheese is just incredible. Once you’ve had a really wonderful piece of cheese, it changes your outlook on things in general,” said Saxelby. “Cheese is a living thing and should be treated as such. We’re entrusted with these really wonderful things that the cheesemakers have made, and it almost feels sacred in a way.”
Emmi Roth USA and Fromagination, an artisan cheese shop in Madison, Wisconsin, partnered to sell nearly 400 bagged lunches as a part of their “Lunch-In to Help End Childhood Hunger” promotion, which raised money for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.
For the fundraiser, local residents and companies had the opportunity to pre-order bagged lunch for pick up or free delivery on September 24. Each bagged lunch included the customers’ choices of a ham or vegetarian sandwich featuring Roth® Grand Cru® and Roth® Fontiago cheese, chips – courtesy of Sysco of Baraboo – and a mini Cow Pie®. Volunteers from Emmi Roth USA helped prepare and deliver the sandwiches.
Three dollars from each lunch sold, totaling $1,200, were donated directly to the No Kid Hungry campaign, connecting kids in need with healthy food where they live, where they learn and where they play. Every dollar raised for the No Kid Hungry campaign helps connect a child in need with up to 10 nutritious meals.
As a national partner of the No Kid Hungry campaign, Emmi Roth USA is committed to helping ensure that every child gets the healthy food they need, not only in Wisconsin, but nationwide.
“We are beyond grateful to everyone who purchased a lunch and helped spread the word about our fundraiser,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Emmi Roth USA. “One in five children struggles with hunger, and we hope that the awareness we’ve raised, along with the funds, will encourage local businesses and residents to continue to support the No Kid Hungry campaign.”
Emmi Roth USA received awards for its Grand Cru® Reserve, Grand Cru Surchoix® and Montanella™ Raclette cheeses at the recent Global Cheese Awards, held September 11, at the Frome Agricultural & Cheese Show in Frome, England. Since January, Emmi Roth has been recognized with 17 award wins in domestic and international competitions.
Roth® Grand Cru Reserve took home a gold medal in the Single Specialty Cheese Hard category. Crafted in authentic copper vats and cured by Roth cellar masters for a complex and full-bodied flavor unlike any other, Grand Cru Reserve is aged six to eight months to develop earthy and nutty flavors. Last month, Grand Cru Reserve took home the prestigious title of Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo.
Roth Grand Cru Surchoix also secured a gold award in the Overseas Cheeses category, which consisted of cheeses from non-European countries. Made from a combination of the finest Wisconsin milk and classic Swiss traditions, Roth Grand Cru Surchoix cures for a minimum of nine months, providing a firm texture and complex flavors of caramel, fruit and mushroom.
Montanella Raclette, a classic washed rind cheese, was awarded silver in the Overseas Cheese category. Montanella Raclette is handcrafted in small batches and cellar cured to deliver a velvety, semi-soft body and a nutty, yeasty finish.
“We are honored to receive continued recognition for all of our cheeses on national and international stages,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Emmi Roth USA. “Our cheesemakers and cellar masters are committed to delivering exceptional products. Award wins like this demonstrate the hard work and dedication everyone puts into our cheeses.”
Since 2011, the Global Cheese Awards have brought together cheesemakers from across the world to compete for various titles of distinction. This year’s competition featured more than 1,200 entries from 15 different countries.
The United States Olympic Committee and Chobani just announced a long-term partnership through 2020. Through this extension, Chobani will serve as the official yogurt provider to Team USA for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“Chobani has served as an important addition to our roster of partners, and we are thrilled the company will remain in the USOC sponsor family through 2020,” said USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird. “Through its ongoing commitment to creating healthy products and promoting healthy lifestyle choices, Chobani has been an integral partner in our mission to support the competitive aspirations of current and future Team USA athletes, many of whom include Chobani in their diets and training regimens.”
The USOC first announced its partnership with Chobani in 2012, representing a new category in its roster of industry-leading sponsors. In 2014, Chobani packaging featured winter sport icons with the tagline, “naturally powering Team USA.” Through the terms of the new agreement, Chobani will continue to carry the Team USA logo through the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Our partnership with Team USA couldn’t be a more natural fit, and we’re extremely proud to continue helping these athletes on their journeys for gold,” said Peter McGuinness, Chobani chief marketing and brand officer. “Like the athletes and teams we’re naturally powering, we strive to deliver our best each and every day.”
A wide range of Chobani products will continue to be made available to athletes living or training at the U.S. Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colo., Chula Vista, Calif., and Lake Placid, N.Y. In addition, USOC dietitians and culinary teams will continue to work closely with Chobani to incorporate the high-protein food into pre-competition and training menus.
“Chobani is more than a part of my diet, it’s truly been part of my training,” said Zach Parise, U.S. Olympic ice hockey silver medalist. “What you’re eating really matters when it comes to fueling peak performance and going for gold, and it’s exciting to know Chobani will continue to fuel Team USA toward victory for years to come.”
“Chobani has been a core part of my diet, whether its summer or winter, and whether I’m training or competing for gold,” said Allison Jones, a U.S. Paralympic medalist in both alpine skiing and cycling. “It’s made a noticeable difference in my nutrition plan, and I’m excited Chobani has committed to being a Team USA sponsor for the long term.”
Products made available to athletes at the training centers will include:
Green County CheeseDays, the granddaddy of Midwestern food fests, celebrates its 100-year anniversary from September 19-21 in Monroe, Wisconsin. The festival celebrates the cheesemaking, dairy farming and Swiss traditions that continue to this day.
Herd to curd.
Cheesemaking first began in Green County in 1846 when Swiss immigrants purchased a few dozen dairy cows and herded them from Ohio to New Glarus, Wisconsin. By 1873, the locals were churning out wedges, blocks and wheels of American, Limburger and Swiss cheese. Today you’ll find more than 50 different varieties, with many available for sampling in the Cheese Tent at the festival.
Thank goodness for sauerkraut!
The idea for the festival dates back to 1914, when some aspiring entrepreneurs in downtown Monroe were looking for a way to attract visitors and boost business. After a visit to Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, Illinois – they came home inspired, with visions of cheese curds dancing in their heads. “If Forreston can have a festival based on sauerkraut, we can certainly do something better with cheese,” one of them likely said, and the first Cheese Day was planned in less than a month. Despite the lack of Twitter, Facebook and text messaging, nearly 4,000 people arrived by train, horse-drawn rig, and roadster. More than 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served, and the program included vaudeville entertainment and political speeches. According to the local newspaper, “merrymakers danced in the street to band music all afternoon.”
A celebration too good to end.
After some stops and starts (War! Great Depression! Ten-Year Hiatus!) the festival settled into the pattern of a three-day, every-other-year event in 1970. Today, more than 100,000 revelers descend on Monroe to polka and yodel, play alphorns, eat cheese by the truckload, and party – literally – ‘til the cows go home.
Cheesy is what the festival organizers strive for.
Right away you’ll sense the cheesy vibe: old time copper kettle cheesemaking demonstrations, cheese pairings, and cheese sampling galore. On the menu: gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, the best deep-fried cheese curds in the nation, cheesecake on a stick, and Limburger “sliders.” And in honor of the 100th anniversary – a “Procession of Cheesemakers” with a cheesemaker from each of the dozen factories proudly bearing their signature cheese to lend pomp and circumstance to the festival’s opening ceremony.
Send in the cows.
The best of the area’s bovines (Brown Swiss, Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein, Red and White Holstein, Ayrshire, and Milking Shorthorn) make the trip to the “big city” to play starring roles in the wildly popular Cow Milking Contest. For many, the highlight of the weekend is The Swiss Colony Cheese Days Paradewhich is led by a herd of Brown Swiss cows sporting clanging bells and floral wreaths. The parade carries on the tradition of herdsmen bringing the cattle down from the Alps at the end of the grazing season – following a summer nibbling pastures of tall grass and tasty herbs – ideal for crafting delicious Alpine cheeses.
Hundreds of ways to share the fun.
To mark this special anniversary, more than 100 accordion players will play the official Cheese Days Song (of course there is a song!) with the Monroe City Band. In keeping with the theme of 100, dairy farm tours will showcase two family farms where multiple generations have tilled the land and milked the cows for more than a century. Cheese Days also features three entertainment stages with everything from Swiss alphorns and yodeling to rock-n-roll party bands. Also on the schedule – arts and crafts, brewery and distillery tours, activities for kids and antique tractors. In fact, there are more fun things to do at Cheese Days than there are holes in a giant wheel of Swiss cheese!
Two Emmi Roth USA employees are among the 2014 class of American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals™. Krista Schoppenhauer and Kristin Sande are part of an elite group of 153 individuals from 32 different companies who passed the third annual ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam, held July 29 in Sacramento, California.
Krista Schoppenhauer, Inside Sales Representative for Specialty Cheeses at Emmi Roth USA, has more than 10 years of experience in the cheese industry. Schoppenhauer, who developed a love of fine food at a young age, said she is “proud to have attained this milestone while working at Emmi Roth.”
With more than 20 years of experience in the cheese industry, Kristin Sande is the Inside Sales Manager for Specialty Cheeses at Emmi Roth USA. “I am fortunate to have a career that not only provides continued growth but also tastes delicious,” said Sande.
Sande and Schoppenhauer join Roger Olsen, Specialty Sales Trainer, who passed the ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam in 2013. “The ever-expanding cheese community is a wonderful place to be, especially now,” said Olson, who has more than 20 years of professional experience in the food industry. “It is a joy sharing great cheese and education with people who are passionate about food.”
“We are exceptionally proud of Krista, Kristin and Roger,” said Jodie Wische, Vice President of Specialty Sales at Emmi Roth USA. “Becoming a Certified Cheese Professional is a prestigious achievement and true testament to their dedication and passion for the cheese industry.”
In support of cheesemongers and cheese professionals, Emmi Roth USA proudly sponsors the American Cheese Society CCP reception to honor and celebrate the efforts of exam takers. The exam is the only one of its kind, and it was established to encourage improved standards of comprehensive cheese knowledge and service. Aspiring cheese professionals need 4,000 hours of work experience and formal education just to be eligible to take the exam. Those who pass the test are awarded a lapel pin, jacket patch and certificate.
To learn more about the Certified Cheese Professional Exam, visit www.cheesesociety.org.
Karoun Dairies‘ 2014 product launch, Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads, wins first place in the “Labneh, Greek Style Yogurt and Other Strained Cultured Products” category at the annual 2014 American Cheese Society Awards, which took place from
July 29 – August 1 in Sacramento, California.
The 2014 ACS Judging & Competition saw 1,685 entries of cheeses and cultured dairy products from 248 companies in North America. Among them, Karoun Dairies received two awards to add to its growing collection.
“We’re honored by the ACS and their acknowledgement of the quality of the products we produce. We use hand-crafted traditional methods of blending, aging, and fermenting all of our probiotic rich yogurt spreads,” states Mr. Rostom Baghdassarian, COO for Karoun Dairies. “This year, we introduced Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads, as we’ve seen a major demand for healthier, Mediterranean-style spreads. Blue Isle is a fresh, tasty, and health conscious alternative to traditional cream cheeses.”
Karoun Dairies’ winning products at the American Cheese Society 2014 awards include:
Labneh, Greek Style Yogurt and Other Strained Cultured Products: first place - Blue Isle Original Mediterranean Yogurt Spread
Crème Fraiche and Sour Cream Products – Made From Cow’s Milk: second place – Canadian Style Sour Cream
Over 1,400 members strong, ACS is the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of farmstead, artisan and specialty cheeses produced in the Americas. ACS hosts North America’s foremost annual educational conference and world-renowned cheese judging and competition.
Blue Isle Yogurt Spreads are distributed by Karoun Dairies, Inc., a second-generation family business with multiple awards for excellence in the cheese and dairy industry. Accolades include World Cheese Awards, World Championship Cheese medals, U.S. Championships, American Cheese Society medals, and California State Fair awards to name a few. Karoun produces some of California’s finest specialty cheeses; using century-old and handmade methods. All 130+ SKUs are made from ultra-premium ingredients, including premium milk from cows that are free of artificial hormones, BGH/rBST, and are Real California Milk certified.
Jarlsberg® Cheese, a nationally recognized premium quality brand, is now in a mini snack size. Available in a 30 count UPC barcode for individual sale—in a display ready case for immediate placement in the refrigerated case—Jarlsberg Cheese Minis offer convenience stores, drugstores, retail, institutional and hospitality foodservice channels profit opportunity that taps directly into current consumer demand for all-natural and fresh, ready-to-eat formats of favorite brands.
Each 20g portion-sized Jarlsberg Cheese Mini is just 70 calories and a good source of calcium and protein. Dipped in wax and wrapped in cellophane to replicate the popular Jarlsberg wheel, it’s mild, mellow and nutty flavor makes it a delicious grab-and-go alternative choice to sugary snacks. Jarlsberg Cheese Minis are also available in a 50 count bulk case, with or without UPC, offering a wide range of foodservice channel applications.
For more information, contact Deborah Seife, General Manager – Marketing,email@example.com.
Emmi Roth USA received four awards at the 2014 American Cheese Society Competition in Sacramento, California, including a first place award for its GranQueso® Original in the Hispanic & Portuguese Style Ripened Cheese category.
GranQueso, a Roth® Original inspired by the cheeses of Spain, is cellar aged for six to eight months to create a distinctive bite and sweet finish with hints of citrus, spice and hazelnut. This award is the 11th consecutive award for this cheese in the category. Earlier this year, GranQueso was also awarded Best of Class in the Hard Hispanic Cheese category at the World Championship Cheese Contest.
Roth GranQueso Reserve took second place in the Hispanic & Portuguese Style Ripened Cheese category, continuing Emmi Roth USA’s tradition of success with this style of cheese. GranQueso Reserve, which is carefully cured for more than 15 months, bears a dense texture and sweet flavors of candied pineapple and browned butter. It was also awarded second place in the Hard Hispanic Cheese category at this year’s World Championship Cheese Contest.
Additional Emmi Roth USA award winners included Roth’s Private Reserve, which placed third in the Washed Rind Cow’s Milk Cheese category, and Roth Rofumo®, which received third place in the Smoked Cow’s Milk Cheese category.
“We are proud to be part of the growing and thriving American cheese industry,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Emmi Roth USA. “Our team is dedicated and passionate about crafting and curing outstanding, high-quality products and wins like these help showcase everyone’s hard work. Our congratulations go out to all of the award winners.”
This year, 248 companies entered 1,685 different products in the competition. A full list of award winners is available online.