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ACS CCP Exam Scholarship

To all CACG Members:  The Guild has approved funding to underwrite a $500 scholarship for the ACS CCP exam fee for a qualified CACG Members to take the 2016 ACS CCP Exam on July 26, 2016 in Des Moines, IA.  A subcommittee composed of Board members Tamara Hicks, Emiliano Lee, and Emily Shartin will review scholarship applications.

What is the ACS CCP Exam?

The exam was created by ACS to encourage standards of improved comprehensive knowledge and service in the cheese industry. The exam evaluates candidates’ understanding of core competencies common to the specialty cheese industry. The designation ACS CCP after an individual’s name is a mark of professional excellence, indicating that the individual has acquired the level of knowledge and expertise that is demanded throughout the cheese industry. CCPs will be required to renew their certification every 3 years by demonstrating continued professional development.  Application Deadline for the CACG ACS-CCP Exam Scholarship is July 20.

In addition to meeting the ACS eligibility criteria (visit http://www.cheesesociety.org/events-education/certification-2/ for full details), applicant must:

  1. Be a member of CACG in good standing
  2. Have already been accepted as a 2016 ACS CCPE candidate
  3. Not have already benefitted from a company sponsorship of the CCP exam fee
  4. Submit copies of CCPE acceptance along with an original, short explanation of the candidate’s experience and goals in the California cheese community and discuss:
    1. How the CCP credential will benefit both the individual AND the California Artisan Cheese Guild in the coming years, and
    2. How this education can be passed on to advance the level of industry expertise & professionalism amongst fellow Guild members
  5. Following the exam, the candidates must write an essay about the experience to be shared via CACG website and newsletter.
  6. Submit the above by 11:59 PST on July 20, 2016 via e-mail to: scholarships@cacheeseguild.org

Exam Date: July 26, 2016

Exam Location: Des Moines, IA

**Deadline for submissions to CACG – July 20, 2016***

CACG will announce the scholarship winners on July 22, 2016.

Product Selection Roundtable Notes

Dear Members, read on for notes from the 6/1 Product Selection Roundtable held at the Park Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Thank you to the cheesemakers, retailers, and distributors who were able to join-in the conversation and share your valuable perspectives.  We’d also like to thank Deb Fox for her assistance moderating and organizing the dialogue.

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California Artisan Cheese Guild Roundtable Notes

Topic: Product Selection               

Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Location: San Francisco Public Library, Park Branch

Number of attendees: ~21

Question: What do customers look for in cheese?

  • Small and medium format cheeses for storage ease without losing the integrity of the cheese
    • Food service is seeking small-medium size (5-6lb) format – chefs concerned about both storage space and being able to serve all of the cheese before it declines
    • Soft vs. Hard? Texture not as important a factor
    • Corporate café customers like the soft cheeses because they are more approachable
  • Local cheese at a good price point that is easy to use and approachable
  • A common refrain: “I don’t know anything about cheese, but I’m looking for…seeking input from the monger to fill in the blank
  • Cut-to-order counter (customers have their hand held) vs. pre-cut (less or no hand-holding) makes a big different if a cheese is a “hand sell.”

Question: What changing trends do you see locally and nationally?

  • Customers are more interested in the carbon footprint of the cheese (how far it travels)
  • Many customers who have been shopping at The Pasta Shop for nearly 30 years gravitate toward European cheeses. Sometimes they are European or well-traveled and looking to find a cheese they had abroad.
  • In the last 5 years, counter has accommodated more American cheeses.

Question: Is the market saturated with certain types of cheeses? Are there others in demand?

  • Saturated:
    • There are too many cheddars
    • French cheeses are saturating the market because the current exchange rate makes them inexpensive
    • The market could be saturated, but people are very loyal to certain brands. Yes, there are lots of options in some categories (cheddar, blue, and brie cited), but people “like what they like” and can’t always be persuaded to switch to a different producer.
  • In demand:
    • There isn’t enough sheep cheese
      • (cheesemaker) Many people don’t realize how hard it is to produce affordable sheep’s milk cheese in California – feeding animals year round, short milking season, small amount of milk produced. With all of these factors, local cheeses still have to compete against Basque sheep’s milk cheese retailing for $23/#.
    • California-made alpine-style cheese
    • Red Hawk
    • Raw milk cheeses
    • (cheesemaker) Often people ask for something and have no idea how much work is involved in producing a new cheese – R&D, make process, etc.

Question: How should cheesemakers introduce new cheeses to distributors/retailers?

  • Provide short descriptive paragraphs about the cheese
  • Provide pictures
  • Provide samples
  • Highlight if the cheese is an award winner
    • How important are awards? Different responses – not very to distributors, more important to retailers. ACS winner stickers really help in some markets
  • Staff class – at store before opening
  • Farm tours ideal but hard for retailers open 7 days/week
  • Some customers (chefs) looking for very short tweet-length descriptions.
  • Others (retailers) savor the story and the details
  • The story is really important and can help sell the cheese…at least once. Customers are coming back for flavor.
  • Observation that lengthy and accurate information is not always available on cheesemakers’ own websites

Question: What are the factors that define a successful cheese in your selection?

  • Good story and great flavors
  • Local
  • Specialty and cooking cheeses are best sellers
  • Cheesemakers that provide tours/provide education for mongers
  • Brochures are good for distributors, but not retailers
  • An online presence is imperative for distributors and retailers to help promote the cheese, learn about the farm, etc.
  • Keep all info short and concise
  • Provide a downloadable PDF with cheese and farm info

Question: What are the reasons you (distributor or retailer) would not select a cheese?

  • The cheese needs to be exciting
  • The price can’t be over $18 wholesale/$39 retail
  • In some cases, lack of 3rd Party Audit or Food Safety Plans
  • Prior experience with cheesemaker not good, such as poor communication or unresponsiveness

Question: How much of a difference does organic make to customers?

  • There is a disconnect with customers between fluid milk and cheese. People will only buy organic milk, but not even ask if a cheese is organic. Organic milk in almost every basket in certain Bay Area markets, and yet organically-certified cheese is not demanded in the same way.
    • Co-op markets are the only retailers that request organic
  • Organic certification adds $4/# to the cost of milk production
  • However, having an organic label does provide a selling point for customers
  • Grass fed and raw milk cheese products are requested more often than organic
  • Multiple retailers report that their customers seeking organic are often satisfied with blocks and slices of “basic” cheeses rather than also looking for “specialty” cheese.
  • Artisan cheese is a “specialty” product – customers less interested in organic and more interested in flavor.

Question: For cheesemakers, what do you think about when creating a new cheese?

  • Cheeses we want to eat
  • Hole in the market
  • What the market wants now is strong flavors now, but used to be mild flavors
  • Format: size, shape
    • Cheesemongers noted that shape and herbs can be challenging for cutting and wrapping

Question: What feedback can retailers give to cheesemakers?

  • Everything! Be honest.
  • How did the cheese arrive? Include Lot # when communicating this information.
  • Are samples needed?
  • Constructive feedback is always appreciated
  • Flavor profile as cheese ages
  • If you have bill-backs, please provide as much information as you can
  • Face-to-face relationships help the feedback loop

Question: What are your feelings on renaming a cheese that is a mistake or variation from the name-recognized standard?

  • Acceptable if done at the request of the cheesemaker with cheesemonger agreement
  • Cheesemongers changing the name of cheese that has gone south on their watch is very bad practice.

Question: How do distributors get cheese samples to customers?

  • Depends on the distributor – some send with sales team, some can send to specific customers, some cannot if the sample doesn’t have a specific item code.
  • Direct drop off is the best – facetime with cheesemaker

Question: How valuable is a cheesemaker visit to customers?

  • Depends, chefs too busy and unavailable, retailers usually love it.
  • A recommendation to schedule visit through distributor because their outside sales staff probably know the ideal window for a customer visit.
  • Greenleaf stared organizing small farm tours for their chefs
  • Broker perspective – sales reps drive weekly route, always with sample(s) and taste if their customers have time. Just say hello if not.
  • If dropping in to check on account:
    • ask for buying day
    • don’t show up at lunch

Additional items:

  • If the cheese is selling well and production costs are coming down, don’t lower the price of the cheese, but apply the difference to additional promotion (tastings, marketing, etc.)
  • Price determines the value of the cheese for the customer; higher can be better, but can also be a curse. Look for the sweet spot in pricing ($25-$35/lb)
  • Cheesemongers can sell expensive cheese if there is a good retailer/cheesemaker relationship

Key outcomes

  • Cheesemakers, when you have too much cheese, reach out to your contacts in distribution and retail and be ready to make a deal to move a large volume of cheese. They want to help you!
  • Education needs:
    • Streamline communication/feedback between retailers and cheesemakers via distributors
    • Cheesemakers and retailers need to communicate production/purchasing plan to help address cheese demand throughout the year
    • Cow vs. goat milk with organic
  • Typical retailer timeline:
    • Inventory is at the end of the month so they aren’t buying at that time
    • They buy more around the holidays
    • Customer discounts help
    • Hand deliveries with samples are great for promotion

 

FSMA Webinar June 21 & 28 with Food Safety Guides

Cheesemakers! The times, they are a changin’. Do the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules apply to your business? As a “very small business” (under $1 million in annual food sales) you can qualify for a particular exemption from the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food.   Are you keeping the right records and on track to meet the necessary deadlines?

Join Michael and Charlie Kalish of Food Safety Guides to learn more about the general layout and scope of the final rule, which was published on September 18, 2015, as it applies to artisan cheesemakers. This 2-part webinar series focuses on FSMA Exemptions, Requirements, and Deadlines for Very Small Businesses. Instructor Michael Kalish will help translate the formal and bureaucratic language of FSMA into clear actionable steps for you and your business.

Each webinar will consist of a 45min-1 hour presentation followed by 30-45 minutes of very valuable Q&A time.  To participate, you must have access to a computer and have a strong wifi connection. A link to the join-me hosted webinar will be shared via email.  The webinar series will take place on two consecutive Tuesdays in June – June 21 and 28, from 4-5:30pm.

Session #1 – June 21

FSMA: Navigating the Law, Foundational Rules and Provisions; and,

PC Rule For Human Food: Exemptions, Requirements and Deadlines for Very Small Businesses – Subparts A, B and D

Session #2 – June 28

PC Rule For Human Food: Exemptions, Requirements and Deadlines for Very Small Businesses – Subparts E, F and G

Registration is available HERE.

Price

Early Bird Registration – by June 5

CACG Member Price = $100

Non-member Price = $120

Late Registration – by June 15

CACG Member Price = $130

Non-member Price = $150

About the instructors: Michael Kalish co-founded Food Safety Guides in 2013 and is an active food safety expert consultant, speaker and panelist across the USA. He received his formal training in dairy and meat processing and food safety in the Piemonte, Italy, at l’istituto lattiero caseario e delle tecnologie agroalimentari from 2008-2010 and has worked for multiple farms and creameries across France, Switzerland and Italy. In 2011, Michael was Chef de Tunnel for Hervé Mons and in 2012, he served as operations manager for Artisanal in New York City. Michael has educated and consulted businesses across the USA, Canada and Australia. In 2015, Michael became one of the country’s first and youngest FSPCA Lead Instructors. Michael is a member of the American Cheese Society’s Regulatory Affairs Board and a regular instructor on food safety and quality for the National Centre for Dairy Education, Dairy Australia, the Food Craft Institute and SCS Global Services. He is a member of the California Environmental Health Association, the California Restaurant Association, and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Charlie Kalish is co-founder of Food Safety Guides and a consultant and trainer to numerous food businesses around the U.S. and internationally. An experienced industry professional in food manufacturing and former Fulbright scholar, Charlie is an expert in all facets of food safety plan development, from hazard analysis research and project management to plan acceleration through use of cloud-based tools.  In 2015, Charlie became one of the country’s first and youngest FSPCA Lead Instructors.

Distribution Roundtable Notes

Below are the notes captured at the roundtable discussion on March 30, 2016.  All participants were invited to submit up to 3 questions anonymously.  These questions were then sorted by general category for discussion throughout the evening.  Time ran short and many great questions remain unanswered.

California Artisan Cheese Guild Roundtable Notes

Topic: Distribution

Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Location: North Bay-Petaluma Regional Library

Number of attendees: ~40

Marketing

Question: As a cheesemaker, do you do any of your own marketing (outside of what your distributor does)?

Captured Responses:

  • Cheesemakers don’t look at distributors as marketers
  • Cheesemakers and distributors need to be partners in creating new customers
    • More partnership is needed!
  • Cheesemakers do online marketing
  • “Brand marketing” vs. “trade marketing”
  • Distributor neutrality, but required relationship with customers (I’m not sure I understand the sentiment of this response. Do either of you have a strong recollection of this piece of the conversation?)
  • Both should market to build brand

Question: What are the most effective promotional programs? (cheesemaker to distributor)

  • Story with samples
  • Introductory sampler to customer
  • Opportunity to experience the farm
  • Locality
  • Meet the Cheesemaker
  • Promotions vs availability (plan the year for seasonal pushes vs. seasonal cheese, if possible) I believe there was also the sentiment that the cheesemaker needed to have enough cheese to actually support a promotion from a distributor?

Other questions from attendees that did not directly get addressed:

  • Do you have promotional funds built into the cost of your product?
  • What are distributors doing to promote local cheeses vs. non-local?
  • Are you targeting a specific customer (major chains, independents, local farmer’s markets)? (controlled growth)

Sales

Question: What are cheesemakers looking for in a distributor?

  • A company that responds to emails
  • One that has an understanding that cheese companies are small, with small budgets and small margins
  • Has educated staff
  • That takes care of the product (staff doesn’t throw boxes into the truck)
  • Understands seasonality of milk/cheese
  • Has clear expectations; to include of how much cheese needs to be sold with expectations evaluated on a regular basis
  • Shares specific information about where the cheese is being sold
  • Works in partnership to get the cheese to market
  • Creates a relationship with the cheese company

Question/s: Is there a way makers could get a list of buyers on a regular basis to enable promotion on farm/creamery social media? Do you share the list of customers who buy our product? If not, what is the reason?

  • Trust issue is why, some distributors are afraid the cheesemakers will undercut ?by selling directly?
  • However, some distributors want cheesemakers to create a relationship with buyers to help co-sell
  • Trust building between cheesemakers and distributors is needed to help distributors feel comfortable sharing information, but need to develop clear protocols for when and how to share lists

Other questions from attendees that did not directly get addressed:

  • What is your ideal customer?
  • Do you have a sales force or expect creameries to have 100% salesforce?
  • Do the distributors recommend or require a broker or sales representative?

Distribution

Question/s: What do you feel cheesemakers should know to have a better understanding of the distribution model? What are you looking for in a distributor? What do cheesemakers look for in a distributor?

  • Cheesemakers need to understand the logistics necessary to get the cheese from point A to point B; it’s all about timing
  • FOB: facility to warehouse is challenging and expensive. Pallets need to be full.
  • Southern California/Northern California is more expensive then cross country.
  • One distributor noted that loyalty is key
    • Cheesemakers responded:
      • Not one distributor can sell the amount of cheese a cheese company needs sold.
      • No distributor reaches every customer or serves every market
    • Crossdocking can help keep costs down for everyone, in a central location, but insurance liability is an issue
    • Size matters – smaller format cheeses sell better (was this comment specific to restaurants?)
    • Have a loss leader to get into a shop/restaurant
    • Costco Pros and Cons
      • Great for promo blast
      • Could result in being dropped by some distributors
      • Be respectful of your other customers , if going this route, by creating a different format cheese

Other questions from attendees that did not directly get addressed:

  • How do cheesemakers introduce new cheeses to distributors?
  • What do you think customers are looking for?
  • Are there certain cheeses that have flooded the market? Or cheese that are needed?
  • What is the factor besides taste and texture that sells cheese?
  • Is there any goat cheese that is organic and grass fed in Northern California?
  • Getting (sample?) allowances to retailers
  • What changes do you see in consumers locally and nationally?

Affinage

Question/s: How do you facilitate good cheese care and affinage once cheese has left the producer? We occasionally get complaints from retailers about cheese that has arrived in poor condition, even though it left our creamery in good condition. How does this happen?

  • Cheesemakers:
    • Packaging in key! Needs to last distribution
    • Consider adding sheet with the cheese that says when to use/end date, etc.
    • Test shelf life on trucks
    • Anticipate lead time
  • Distributers:
    • Cheese knowledge/education in key!
    • Lead time from order to warehouse so that cheese is optimal at delivery
    • Best practices for cheese care
    • End user (receiver/buyer) education of what to accept

Other items/concerns

  • Sharing prices with customers
  • Setting minimums
  • Question to distributors: Are your customers in retail asking for GS1 labels? If so, are you actually scanning them in your receiving? Is it part of your accountability?
  • How do you help producers sell product?
  • Sometimes we get paid late, would it help if we imposed a late fee? Or would that make you order less?
  • To cheesemakers: how do you judge the success of your distributor?
  • To cheesemakers: what service do you need that distributors do not currently offer?
  • We sometimes hear from retailers that they tried to order our cheese from a distributor you, but they were unavailable – even though we have the cheese available and the distributor you just have has not ordered it. Please explain

Ideas

  • Cheese Guild Distribution Program/Center
  • Distributor/Cheesemaker education opportunities:
    • Delivery staff cheese care from farm to facility
    • Sales staff: seasonality/care/flavors
  • Crossdocking 101
  • Distributor onboarding education for cheesemakers
  • Best practices to consider for cheesemaker and distributors:
    • Customer list sharing protocols
    • Cheese care from farm to facility
    • Cheese care from facility to customer
    • Cheese care from customer to customer

Next Steps:

  1. Schedule follow-up roundtable conversation in Q2 with a more narrow topic and focus.
  2. Consider compiling a document with onboarding processes from different distributors.
  3. Work with Guild MarComm Committee to schedule a sales and marketing class for later this year.

April Cheesemaker Ed: Peter Dixon & HACCP

We’re delighted to have two important cheesemaker education classes coming up in April –  read on for more details.

Reverse Engineering and Troubleshooting Cheese

2-Day Class with Peter Dixon

Date: April 22-23, 2016

Time: 9am-4pm

Location: Tomales Farmstead Creamery, Tomales, CA

Day 1

Cheesemakers, is there a cheese you love — and would love to make — but aren’t sure how? Does your creamery set-up enable you to make the style of cheese your heart desires, or could it use some tweaking? Join Peter Dixon for a seminar exploring the reverse engineering of cheese and deepen your understanding of how particular cheeses are made and the different routes you can take to get there.  Peter will dive deeply into 6 specific styles of cheese and, working backward, will explore how milk type, creamery set-up, make process, batch size, culture, and rennet all work together to influence the final product.

 Day 2

Is your ideal cheese slightly different than what comes out of the vat? Day 2 will focus on troubleshooting and exploring the flaws and defects that may arise during cheesemaking. Learn about the root causes of these flaws and defects and how to address them. Bring one of your own cheeses to class on Saturday for group evaluation.

 

Peter Dixon is a dairy foods consultant and artisan cheesemaker who has been making cheese for over 30 years and consulting for 20. His work is guided by the demonstrable connection between risk reduction practices and high quality cheese and dairy foods. In 2013, Peter started Parish Hill Creamery, a small seasonal cheese business where he produces handmade, raw cheese with his wife Rachel and her sister Alex Schaal.

Tickets for this 2-day class are available HERE. The fee includes all class materials, morning coffee, and lunch.

CACG Member Price: $300

Non-Member Price: $350

**Registration Deadline in Monday, April 4**

 

HACCP/HARPC Workshop for Dairy Producers

Date: April 7-8, 2016

Time: 8:00am-4:30pm

Location: Tomales Bay Foods Warehouse – 2080 Lakeview Hwy, Petaluma, CA

Guild member Redwood Hill Farm hosts Allen Sayler from the Center for Food Safety and Regulatory Solutions (www.cfsrs.com) for two days of food safety fun on Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8, 2016.

Did you know that with the new food safety requirements under FSMA, more and more distributors and retailers have stricter requirements for food safety? A well-trained HACCP team is just one piece of this puzzle. Anyone whose HACCP certification or training is more than 2-3 years old is urged to retrain to stay up to date with the latest regulations and regulatory environment.

Allen Sayler works with companies from all over the country, and brings unique perspective and insider knowledge from having formerly worked at the FDA. Having his expertise available is an opportunity not-to-be-missed.

* DAY 1 (April 7, 2016 ): 8:00 am to 4:30 pm: HACCP/HARPC Training

* DAY 2 (April 8, 2016): 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: HACCP/HARPC Training continues

This workshop is designed for dairy products plant managers, dairy products plant employees, and any other food processing workers.   Attendees will be provided with a complete training and reference manual that includes model forms and written programs. Attendees are encouraged to bring current copies of their HACCP plans and a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer for participation in some of the class exercises. This workshop is certified under the International HACCP Alliance (IHA) and is designed to meet the training requirements established for the NCIMS Grade A HARPC program, USDA inspection program (FSIS), as well as the Food Safety Modernization Acts “Preventive Controls”, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Juice HACCP regulation and Private Third Party Certification Programs such as Safe Quality Food (SQF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), International Food System (IFS) and Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC22000).

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the HACCP/HARPC Terminology
  • List examples of the Prerequisite Programs
  • Identify examples of Prerequisite Shortcomings
  • Learn the Five Preliminary Steps to begin process of developing an HACCP/HARPC plan.
  • Apply the Seven Principles of HACCP
  • Conduct a proper Hazard Analysis using a hazard matrix

Class will be limited to 25 participants. Class fee of $325 includes two days of instruction, handout materials, plus coffee and lunch service on both days. Anyone is welcome to attend. Tickets are available HERE.

 

Come learn with us!

We’re honored to have some many outstanding instructors from the Guild teaching educational seminars at California’s Artisan Cheese Festival March 18-20.  Tickets for all seminars are available here.

Morning Seminars – 10-11:30am

Sensory Perception
Presenters:  Lynne Devereux, Butter Communications
Hanne Siversten, UC Davis
Do you have “His” and “Hers” cheese at your house too?!  It’s normal – we promise!  We all taste and enjoy food differently.  Before we can truly understand the flavors in cheese, we need to understand our own palate.  In this unique session, Hanne Siversten, a food and flavor scientist from UC Davis Food Science & Technology department, will guide you through a fascinating tasting experiment to identify your personal flavor thresholds for sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.  By sampling a variety of California Cheddars, you’ll learn how your unique thresholds make your favorite cheese taste so good and just how differently we experience flavor.

New CA Cheese and Wine:  The Modern Movement
Presenters:  Kirstin Jackson, Author
Dan Petroski, Winemaker
California’s wine and cheese scene is at the height of deliciousness and sophistication, but things have changed dramatically since the founding dairy families cut their first curd and the grand families of California wine made their names with rich Cabernets.  Oak no longer dominates the nose of a fine Chardonnay, and these days, recovering lawyers and dairy farmers are both starting up creameries.  It’s an exciting time of adventure and exploration, but also a return to classic methods and ideas.  Join “It’s Not You, It’s Brie: Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese” author Kirstin Jackson and Massican and Larkmead winemaker Dan Petroski as they talk, taste, and pair today’s movers and shakers of the cheese and wine movement.

Afternoon Seminars – 1:30-3:00pm

Farm to Table, Bean to Bar
Presenter: Laura Werlin, Author and Educator
Cheese and chocolate are unquestionably two of life’s greatest pleasures – but do they go together? James Beard award-winning author Laura Werlin will guide you through this mouth-watering philosophical question.  Like the farm to table movement, the bean to bar movement has gained traction in recent years as more chocolatiers create their delectable treats from cocoa beans they’ve processed themselves from start to finish.  Learn about the philosophy behind the budding bean to bar movement and its parallels with the American artisan cheese movement.   Taste and explore the principles behind pairing cheese and chocolate – you’ll never feel the need to chose between sweet and savory again!

East Meets West: Pairing Sake and California Cheese
Presenters: Emily Shartin, CCP, Cowgirl Creamery
Robert Bath, Master Sommelier
Ken Tominaga, chef/owner Hana Japanese Restaurant, Pabu
Izakaya, and Ramen Bar
Cheese and sake are both traditional foods with rich cultural legacies. Surprised to see them matched up?  Sweet or savory, earthy or floral, pasteurized or unpasteurized, sake and cheese have more in common than you might think.  Both owe a great deal to lactic bacteria and fermentation and showcase a stunningly diverse range of flavors, which play together beautifully.  Join Ken Tominaga, chef-owner of three acclaimed Bay Area restaurants, Robert Bath, Master Sommelier, and Emily Shartin, of Cowgirl Creamery, as they break down the secrets of pairing products from both sides of the Pacific.  They’ll delight you with the unexpected marrying of California cheeses and hand-selected Japanese sake in this not-to-be-missed session.

Dubbel Down: Belgian-style Beer and Cheese 
Presenter:  Janet Fletcher
Belgium might fly under the radar for cheese lovers, but it’s definitely at the center of the map for beer aficionados.  For such a small country, Belgium celebrates an incredible diversity of beer styles and is a source of inspiration for many American craft brewers.  Don’t speak Flemish (or French or German)?  Don’t worry – Planet Cheese publisher Janet Fletcher will provide a primer on several Belgian styles, from fruity pale ales to trendy sours to potent, spicecake-scented quads, introducing you to the best Belgian-style beers made stateside.  Taste each style alongside its perfect American cheesy partner and you’ll find out why Belgian-style beers are the best friends a cheese plate ever had!

Photo courtesy of Emily Shartin.

RSVP for the 2/21 Annual Meeting!

Calling all Guild Members!  The 2016 Annual Meeting of members is less than two weeks away!  Join us on Sunday, February 21,  from 12-3pm at Tomales Town Hall in Tomales, CA.  Share lunch with fellow members, meet the 2016 Board of Directors, get involved in 2016 Committees, hear the latest from the California Cheese Trail Map and California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, bring your questions for the Q&A session, and more!

We hope to see you there and kindly RSVP here (it’s FREE), if you haven’t already so we have lunch and chairs for all.

After the meeting, Anna Hancock of Pugs Leap Cheese & White Whale Farm will host a tour and cheese tasting at her nearby farm beginning at 3:30pm.

We hope to see you there!

A New Year, a New Board

A note from the Guild President, Louella Hill:

Dear Fellow Cheese Guild Members:

A year ago when I became president of the CA Artisan Cheese Guild Board, I had no idea what I was getting into: how much time it would take, if we’d pull off hiring an executive director, if there’d be chemistry between Board members, and most importantly, if we’d be able to serve our membership in the way each of you deserve. Now that a year has passed, I have only answered some of these questions but more importantly, I have learned that our Guild (and the Board and our Executive Director in particular) has the dedication, talent and vision needed to move mountains (or wrangle naughty goat herds).

The hiring of Executive Director Anthea Stolz was our most obvious success this past year. Anthea’s many talents have lightened the Board’s workload significantly. Previously, Board members completed time-consuming tasks in their own (nonexistent) spare time. Anthea has changed that by pulling together loose ends, updating systems and bringing the clarity, direction and focus that only a paid position can offer. She led the way as we launched SF Cheese Fest this past September, the primary fundraiser for the Guild, and is already planning for this year’s event. We’re off to a good start figuring out financing for her salaried position and are grateful to know we’ve got Anthea for another year at least!

In the year ahead, there will be many things that keep Anthea and the Board busy. First, however, I’d like to take a moment to mention the Board’s newest members. The results of the 2015 ballot are in and we welcome the following people (each serving a 2-year term):

Lynne Devereux: Amazingly, we recruited the founding president of the CA Artisan Cheese Guild herself. She’s back to offer wisdom, communication expertise and a time-tested passion for California dairy.

Anna Hancock: As the owner of Pug’s Leap Cheese at White Whale Farm, Anna offers the invaluable insight of a small-scale producer. She is excited to extend Guild’s resources to beginning cheesemaker members and also has generously offered tours of her farm following our Annual Meeting in February.

Rick Lafranchi: As part owner of the acclaimed Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, Rick adds the perspective of someone who has transitioned a family farm from fluid milk to value-added cheese production. Also a Board member of MALT, Rick is excited to help the Guild reach more California artisan cheese producers. He is eager to increase consumer understanding about the value of farmstead and small-production cheeses.

Emily Shartin: Emily, an employee of Cowgirl Creamery, will hit the ground running as she’s only been away from the Board for one short year (she served in both 2013 and 2014). She is interested in working on regulatory issues as well as helping with educational programming.

Additionally, I wish to thank the outgoing Board members for the terms they served: Shawn Bryant, Kuba Hemmerling, and Beau Schoch. I also am stepping down but not because my work feels complete. My spouse’s job is moving us to Virginia. I’ll go there with hopes of finding a cheesemaking community as vibrant and delicious as the one I’ve found here. As I step away, I feel confident our Guild is in good hands and that, with the help of each of you, we will continue to raise the bar for artisan cheesemaking across the nation.

See you at our Annual Meeting on February 21 at Tomales Town Hall (when you can welcome our new Board members in person!).

With true appreciation,

Louella Hill

Outgoing CACG Board President

 * * * 

2016 CACG Board Members

Waldemar Albrecht, Oliver’s Market

Jonathan Bowne, Gypsy Cheese Co.

Marnie Clarke, Cheese Cave/DTLA Cheese 

Lynne Devereux, Butter Communications

Sarah Dvorak, Mission Cheese

Phillip Franco, Sierra Cheese

Anna Hancock, Pug’s Leap Cheese

Tamara Hicks, Tomales Farmstead Creamery

Reggie Jones, Central Coast Creamery

Rick Lafranchi, Nicasio Valley Cheese Company

Emiliano Lee, Good Food Advocate 

Tim Pedrozo, Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Co.

Emily Shartin, Cowgirl Creamery

CACG CCP Scholarship Winner Announced!

The Guild Scholarship Committee is delighted to announce that member Jennifer Kirkham is the recipient of Guild-sponsored $500 scholarship for the ACS CCP Exam in San Francisco on January 16, 2016. Congratulations, Jennifer!

Jennifer has made cheese professionally in Marin and Sonoma counties for 2 ½ years and started raising her own flock of sheep prior to that, studying both animal husbandry and cheesemaking. Stay tuned for Jennifer’s scholarship essay in the February newsletter.