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Masters of Cheese
Event Recap: Guilde des Fromagers Induction

On a sweltering early summer's night in New York, the Cooperative d'Isigny Sainte-Mère gathered at The French Consulate for the 319th chapter meeting of the Saint-Ugozon Cheesemakers' Guild and Brotherhood. The event, a celebration of French cheese and culture, was an opportunity to induct 22 master fromagers, cheesemongers and cheese specialists into the prestigious Guilde des Fromagers. For the first time in its history, the guild offered a uniquely American tone to the society by creating a distinct New York Chapter of the organization. Of those inducted, titans of our local cheese industry like Steve Jenkins of Fairway Market and Rob Kaufelt of Murray's Cheese were recognized for their comprehensive knowledge and attention to the merits of French cheese in a society largely based on fast food.

The guild had determined that the annual meeting would be held in New York after the events of September 11 touched so many people around the world. The opportunity to share and celebrate the advancement of cultural unity was foremost in the minds of the event organizers. Perhaps most important though was that the opportunity to hold this international event in New York was a tribute to the victims of the globally shared tragedy.

The decidedly slow culture of cheese making was celebrated with a grand tasting in the Salon of the Consulate, but not before each of the inductees was formerly recognized for achievements and commitments to the industry. As the sun set over Central Park, a rosy hue enveloped the Salon and members of the local food and wine community celebrated and gave recognition to this historic group of cheese experts. Inductees were lauded and playfully laughed at for their efforts over the years to smuggle cheeses into New York when the only means to taste the highest quality French cheese was to visit France. There was reminiscence of a time, not long ago, when cheese had to be shipped as regular cargo, largely packaged in saran wrap, as determined importers sat anxiously in the cabin of the plane concerned about the about the cross-Atlantic condition of their precious (and valuable) cargo. Fortunately today, the French cheese market has been opened up to the United States and dedicated aficionados continue to work for the lifting of sanctions on still-prohibited cheeses.

The Guilde Des Fromagers was founded in 1969 as a means to support the cultural and historical significance of quality cheese making. Members of the guild promote the education of consumers and encourage the continued facilitation of traditional methods of cheese production.

Masters of Cheese:Guilde des Fromagers Induction

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