On Saturday night cheesemongers and luminaries from across the US and as far away as London, Holland and Australia gathered in a nondescript warehouse in Long Island City, NY, to wage an intense battle of curd knowledge and salemanship. At the 2012 Cheesemonger Invitational, mongers were asked to blind identify cheeses, sell the “cheese of the day,” perform a one-minute stand-up bit professing their love for the curd, and cut, wrap and plate cheese before an esteemed panel of judges.
The field of 47 was narrowed to 12 after the preliminary rounds (a three-way tie for 10th increased the number of finalists).
After a grueling 8+ hours, the winners were announced:
3rd place: Burnie Bland of Pastoral Artisan, Chicago
2nd place: Justin Trosclair of St. James Cheese Company, New Orleans
1st place: Adam Smith, Cowgirl Creamery, Washington, DC.
2011 Champion Steve Jones of Cheese Bar PDX prepared a cheesy spread that included a diaorama of the Swiss Alps. (Best bite: “Swiss nachos” with raclette and Rick’s Picks smokra over McClure pickle potato chips.) Sponsors Cellars at Jasper Hill, Rogue Creamery, Neal’s Yard Dairy, Columbia Cheese and Rodolphe Le Meunier offered their wares as well. More pictures to come when I’ve recovered from the cheese coma incurred by this past week of dairy binging. All in the name of curd love, of course.
In his closing remarks, host and organizer Adam Moscowitz announced that plans are underway for the first World Championships to be held next June in France. Winner Adam Smith is expected to be one half of a two-monger team from the US. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: The final scores are in. Via The Cheesemonger Invitational:
1. Adam Smith, Cowgirl Creamery, DC — 183 pts.
2. Justin Trosclair, St. James Cheese Co., New Orleans, LA –176 pts.
3. Burnie Bland, Pastoral Artisan, Chicago, IL — 171 pts.
4. Andrew Clark, Formaggio Essex, NYC — 170 pts.
5. Sean Hartwig, Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor, MI — 169 pts.
6. (tie) C.J. Bienert, Cheese Shop of Des Moines, IA — 168 pts.
6. (tie) Amy Thompson, Lucy’s Whey, NYC — 168 pts.
7. Poul Price, Consider Bardwell, Vermont/NYC — 167 pts.
8. Patrick Coleff, Reliable Cheese, Durham, NC — 166 pts.
9. Miles Laird, Pasta Shop, San Francisco, CA — 165 pts.
10. Laura Heifetz, Eli’s Manhattan, NYC — 153 pts.
11. Alex Garcia, Dean & Deluca, NYC — 140 pts.
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