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.
Vermont Creamery products earned seven awards at the 2014 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition this week, including first place for Bijou and Feta. This is the second award for Bijou this summer, which also earned a gold sofi at the Fancy Food Show in June.
Vermont Creamery joined 16 other Vermont cheesemakers who together took home 34 awards for the Green Mountain State, including Best of Show for Farm’s For City Kids’ Tarentaise Reserve. The annual competition is considered one of the world’s most influential and prestigious in the artisanal and specialty cheese industry. Vermont Creamery’s Bijou and Feta both earned first place in their respective categories, with Bonne Bouche, Coupole, and Cultured Butter with Sea Salt & Maple taking second place awards. The Creamery’s Crème Fraîche and Unsalted Cultured Butter placed third. In addition, Torus, a cheese made by Vermont Creamery and aged in New York by Murray’s Cheese, earned second place.
Vermont Creamery was one of only five cheesemakers out of 248 to earn seven or more awards at this year’s competition. “Four awards for our geotricum rinded cheeses is tremendously exciting,” said Allison Hooper, Co-owner and Co-founder of Vermont Creamery. “These are very special cheeses that were once unique to European cheesemakers and are now gaining popularity and recognition in the United States.”
The American Cheese Society Competition is held annually during the organization’s conference. This year’s winners were chosen from 1685 entries representing 248 companies from the United States, Canada, and Columbia. Combining the European tradition of cheesemaking with Vermont’s terroir, Vermont Creamery’s line of fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter, and crème fraîche have won over 100 national and international awards.
In its 30th year of business, Vermont Creamery supports a network of more than 15 family farms, promoting sustainable agriculture in the region. B Corp Certified in 2014, Vermont Creamery is the founder of Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, the country’s first demonstration goat dairy. For more information, visit www.vermontcreamery.com.
Jeremy Stephenson, Cheese Program Director of Farms for City Kids Foundation, said of the Best of Show win, “The more I’m involved in this work, the more it becomes clear to me that what we’re doing is so much a part of agriculture and working to develop a new sustainable food system. We’re a small part of that. When we do this work we have to remember we’re part of something much bigger than an individual or individual farm, we’re a part of a community. The people that buy our cheese are supporting something very important for the future.”
The 2014 ACS Judging & Competition saw 1,685 entries of cheeses and cultured dairy products from 248 companies. Entering companies represented 39 U.S. states, 4 Canadian provinces, and Colombia. 325 ribbons were awarded: 89 first place ribbons, 109 second place ribbons, and 127 third place ribbons.
For tie full list of this year’s winners and judges’ bios, visit www.cheesejudging.org.
The 32nd Annual ACS Conference & Competition will take place July 29 – Aug. 1, 2015, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Kingdom Organic Cheddar, one of the newest entries into the U.S. cheese market, captured three top honors this week at the prestigious International Cheese Awards competition held in Nantwich, England.
In competition featuring 4,443 cheeses from 26 countries, Kingdom Organic Cheddar won Gold Awards for Farmhouse/Traditional Mature Cheddar, Export Award, and Cheddar/Cheddar Style.
“The judges at the International Cheese Awards validated what we have known all along: Kingdom isn’t just the only organic European cheese in the U.S. Market, it is the top cheddar in the world,” said Nicola Turner, Export Director at the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo,) the organic dairy farmers’ co-op that manages the production of Kingdom Cheese.
Kingdom is a traditionally handcrafted cheddar, made exclusively with milk from a small number of organic family farms located in Devon, in the Southwest of England. The temperate climate and ample moisture in this region creates pastures of lush grasses which impart a unique flavor to the milk.
“Our cows are kept on a simple grass based system with little or no stress, giving us beautiful, natural milk,” said Geoff Thorne, one of the farmers who produces milk for Kingdom Cheddar. “Our cows are on pasture more than 10 months each year with green grass comprising more than 80 percent of their diets.”
The International Cheese Awards is considered one of the most rigorous competitions for cheese makers around the world. More than 200 judges spend two days selecting the world’s top cheeses.
Kingdom Organic Cheddar is available in many Whole Foods Markets, HyVee Markets, select Costco stores, and other natural and specialty retailers. A listing of retailers carrying Kingdom Organic Cheddar is available at: http://www.kingdomcheddar.com/contact-us/stockists/.