Cheesemongers are foodies who sell cheeses. I asked the owner of the specialty cheese shop, called Cheese on Main, in Ocean Grove, NJ how she became a cheesemonger and her answer surprised me. She told me there’s no official path to become a cheesemonger and many learn through varied avenues. For her, she read everything she could get her hands on about cheese and tested and tried all different types of cheeses before opening her own shop.
Like the owner of Cheese on Main, some cheesemongers prefer to open and run their own shops selling ‘everything’ cheesy from around the world. This often includes everything that pairs well with cheese – such as fruit, crackers, breads, wines, platters, chocolates, and books. Many enjoy sharing their knowledge with their customers and offer cheesemaking classes and educational courses on cheese selection.
How Do You Become a Cheesemonger?
While self-education is certainly a viable option, for others the path may be different. Some get their training by working or managing a cheese counter in a larger, higher-end grocery or specialty stores. You can attend a culinary school that offers training in working with cheeses or work in a cheese making facility and learn the art of cheesemaking, process packaging, and handling.
You could apprentice to a working cheesemonger to gain hands on experience, or work at a cheese counter or at a cheese store. When working at a cheese store you will learn how to cut and store cheeses, the different types of cheeses, and how to work with customers. No matter which path is chosen, one thing remains constant and that’s a real passion for and an interest in cheese and the art of cheesemaking.
Most cheesemongers continue to read and learn about cheese, by scouring the Internet for videos and tutorials, asking questions, reading, hosting cheese tasting parties, attending seminars, and traveling to taste and experience the cheeses from different regions around the world.
What Does a Cheesemonger Do?
Cheesemongers don’t just sell cheese and provide advice about it. They help people select a cheese, answer questions about the history of cheese, consult in flavor types and varieties, and provide cheese safety and handling advice.
They also order cheese, must cultivate an extremely well-tuned palette, manage food safety, and work with many different sizes and types of suppliers from local dairies to international distributors.
Certifications for Cheesemongers
The Cheese Society offers cheesemongers the opportunity to take the Certified Cheese Professional™ Exam (CCPE) – the only exam of its kind. The exam was established to offer professionals in the cheese industry the opportunity to earn the title of ACS Certified Cheese Professional™, or ACS CCP™. The exam was established to help improve standards of comprehensive cheese knowledge and service. For further information, check out the Cheese Society website to learn about careers in the cheese industry.