How do I Become a Cheesemonger?
In order to become a cheesemonger, it is necessary to receive training about food in general and cheese in particular. There are different ways in which this training can be approached, and once qualified, people can work in a number of different settings. The first requirement for anyone who wants to become a cheesemonger is a passion for and an interest in cheese, cheesemaking, and ways in which cheeses can be utilized.
Cheesemongers are food professionals who sell cheeses. Some run their own shops, focusing on selling cheese and some accompaniments such as fruit, crackers, breads, and wines. Others may run a cheese counter in a larger grocery store. Specialty stores tend to hire a separate cheesemonger to manage the cheese counter, as customers have come to expect this service, especially from high end stores. The cheesemonger can assist people with the selection of cheeses, answer questions about cheese history, consult in flavors, and provide advice about food safety when it comes to cheese handling.
One way to train to become a cheesemonger is to attend a culinary school, especially one which offers training in working with cheeses and in working in settings such as grocery stores. Additionally, would-be cheesemongers can also apprentice in cheese factories, learning about the process of making, packaging, and handling cheese. This can be important later because cheesemongers do not just sell cheese and provide advice about it. They also order cheese, manage food safety, and work with suppliers of all sizes, from small local dairies to international distributors.
Another option is to apprentice to a working cheesemonger. This can provide someone who wants to become a cheesemonger with hands on experience at a cheese counter or in a cheese store. Initially, the trainee handles basic tasks like working with customers and cutting cheeses, and eventually she or he is allowed to take on additional responsibilities. While working, the cheesemonger is also encouraged to read about cheese, ask questions, and travel to see cheese being made and to experience the cheeses of other regions.
It is also possible to work as a fromager, or cheese steward, once someone has completed the training to become a cheesemonger. These restaurant professionals work for high end restaurants which take their cheeses extremely seriously. The fromager orders cheeses, works with suppliers, tastes new cheeses, educates the restaurant staff about cheeses, and may also work with guests to help them select cheeses. Cheese stewards can also develop menu items such as cheese plates.
Definitively, I want to go as high as I can. The sky will be the limit and the funny thing is that I found out I really like cheeses after an offer of a job in a big name store. I picked up a lot interest and I will be wasting no time!
@SarahSon - I think some cheeses are an acquired taste, and some you will just never like no matter what.
I am this way when it comes to Blue Cheese. No matter how it is fixed or how many different ways I have tried it, I just don't like it.
There are other cheeses, such as Explorateur, which I have come to really like over time.
I would say the best way to become accustomed to different cheeses is to visit the cheese shop at your local store. Many times you can ask for a sample so you know what it tastes like before you buy it.
I am not an official cheesemonger, but there are so many different cheeses to choose from that I never limit myself to the regular pre-packaged cheeses that everyone is familiar with.
Becoming a cheesemonger sounds like something that would be perfect for my daughter. She has always loved all kinds of cheese. She has made more than one trip to Wisconsin and comes back with all kinds of assorted cheeses.
While I am pretty much familiar with your basic, Swiss, cheddar and Colby cheeses, she knows what all of these different cheeses taste like and the history behind them.
I must say I am not always a big fan of some of the stronger tasting cheeses and wonder if this is some kind of acquired taste?
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