Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pictures from "Cheese-A-Topia"

Look Here to See Why You Must Come Next Year!
The American Cheese Society's Annual Conference was in Seattle last week, and NESC had a table there.  Ricki, Jamie, Ricki's youngest daughter-Sarah, Ricki's oldest daughter-Jen, Jen's boyfriend-Jason and I-Jeri flew from Massachusetts to attend the 4 day event.

The Trip to Seattle
At the airport, Sarah showed us the packets she had made for new wholesale accounts.  (Sarah began working for the business a few months ago.)
 Jen and Jason came along primarily to have a vacation in Seattle.  Jason is a builder and Jen is a very talented barber.  They ended up helping at our table and volunteering at the Festival of Cheeses, but more about that later . . .
 In the middle of our flight, we discovered that the lovely lady sitting next to Jason was Joan Kimball, who is a board member of the ACS and will be co-chairing the conference in Montreal next year.  We bombarded her with questions about the conference and she graciously gave us the answers.
 I'm still not sure which mountain this was, but the view of the area right outside Seattle was spectacular!
Our Table at the Conference
The conference and our rooms were at the Seattle Sheraton which is located in the center of the city.
 I checked the registration room where our table would be.  (Not too shabby!)
 The next morning we set up the table.
 Cheese and Fermented Milk Foods by Kosikowski is a popular item.  A few years ago, the price was over $300.  We published it last year and now we are able to sell the 2 volume set for $75.
Ricki has been active in the ACS for over 30 years, so she knows everybody!  Here she is with John Greeley, the head of the judging for the competition.  Later, he received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his contributions to the ACS.
 Jamie was the first one of us to get a volunteer T-shirt because he was scheduled to help Ricki with her demo.  (Ricki had been asked in advance to teach a "hands-on" Mozzarella demo with Brian Civitello (CheezSorce) and Paula Lambert (The Mozzarella Company).
Ricki's Mozzarella Demo
We had been looking forward to this particular workshop and the time finally came.  Ricki and her co-leaders were knee-deep in raw milk.
 As promised, Jamie worked hard to make the demo a success.
 That's Paula Lambert on Ricki's right.
 Brian Civitello, Ricki and Paula Lambert
Whenever Ricki makes cheese, there's a gross moment when she pretends to eat it all!
Special Events
Later that day, we went to the "Meet the Cheesemakers" reception where we had the opportunity to meet the people who make our favorite cheeses.  (I had an absolute epiphany when I tasted Cypress Grove's Midnight Moon!)
The next morning, we went to the "Town Meeting" moderated by Steve Jenkins (shown below) and David Gremmels.  We were getting off to a slow start, but Steve worked the crowd to get the conversation going.
Ricki spoke about her belief that the conference should be free for cheesemakers.  There was a lot of discussion about making the conference more accessible to everyone.
Jen and Jason in Action
While we were attending these events, Jen and Jason spent time with Ricki's brother, Peter, who lives in Oregon.  However, when they had finished their sightseeing, Jason decided to swing into action and sell some products!
Here he was speaking into the microphone (uh slotted spoon).  We really need to bring him into the business!
Of course, Ricki is very proud of her daughters.  They are sort of beautiful, aren't they?
The last day, we had to break away for a few hours to see the city.  Jason and Jen had already done the Duck Tour and they wanted us to see it.
What can I say?  This is the upper management of our business!
We waited until we could go with Captain Beau Dayshush because Jason told us he was hilarious.  He was, and he had us singing and dancing and quacking at pedestrians.  If you're ever in Seattle, check him out.
 Of course, the scenery was spectacular as well.
Festival of Cheese
At the end of every conference,  they bring out the cheeses that were sent to the competition- the best cheeses on this continent.  It's a long-awaited opportunity to see and taste the winners in every category.  This year there were over 1400 entries! 
Jason was congested, so he and Jen restrained themselves while the rest of us tasted way too much cheese!
When it was over, we all helped with the clean-up.  I couldn't take pictures because this was a huge job and we all wanted to get it done ASAP.  The leftover cheeses were wrapped and put in refrigeration for the auction the next day.  The clean-up was so intense that at one point, I had an entire Camembert stuck to the bottom of my foot!

Jen, Sarah, Jason and I flew back to New England early the next morning.  Ricki and Jamie stayed a few more days.  They volunteered at the auction where thousands of dollars were raised for the ACS scholarship fund, then they visited with old friends.

Next year, the conference will be in Montreal.  This will be the first one in Canada, which is very exciting.  I hope you can attend.  At some point soon I will do an article about how to apply for a scholarship . . .


Paula at Mozzarella said...

Your description of the week is more than fabulous. I just love the way you put this together. And I was so happy to meet you! Paula

fiorella said...

Thanks for the photos! I did not attend the ACS Conference for the first time in 15 years, and the photos of all those happy people are the next best thing.

Fiorella Cutrufello
Calabro Cheese Corporation
East Haven, CT 06512