The American Cheese Society has pulled off another great conference.
It really is amazing the way the ACS produces this 4 day event every year, filled with seminars, workshops, meetings, ceremonies and celebrations.
The conference is always located in a different part of the US or Canada. Last year it took place in Montreal. Unfortunately, we couldn't go because Ricki and Jamie were getting married in August.
But, last week we went to Raleigh, North Carolina where we were wined and dined and even taught a few things. I (Jeri) attended with Ricki and Jamie, Sarah (Ricki's daughter) and her husband, Mark.
Our Trade Table in the Lobby
We had a table in the lobby along with other sponsors of the conference. We met many cheesemongers and cheese makers (we will be featuring many of them in a series of blog articles over the next few months) and we ate a LOT of cheese. Large spreads of artisan cheeses were available at every meal and between meals as well.
|Sarah at right with Lisa Jacobs from Jacob's Creamery in Chehalis, WA|
|Chatting with our table neighbor, Paul Dawson from Bruker Optics.|
There were three sessions of seminars every day with half hour breaks between them to drink coffee, eat cheese and make friends.
During one of the breaks, a chef from BelGioioso Cheese was demonstrating his Mozzarella technique and I took the opportunity to snap a picture of the Cheese Queen at his side.
Ricki's Induction Ceremony
One of the highlights of the conference for us was watching as Ricki got inducted into the New World chapter of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers-Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon. It is quite an honor to be chosen.
The guild has members and chapters around the world. Membership is by sponsorship from a current member only. There were 12 inductees this year.
|Kathy Strange described Ricki's many achievements|
The Festival of Cheese
The culmination of the conference was the Festival of Cheese where most of the entries in the Judging & Competition were available to sample - over 1600 this year. (Some of the softer cheeses had been made available earlier in the conference.)
It's always a spectacular sight when the doors are first opened. (Of course, I couldn't take any pictures at that time because I was in a mad dash to find and taste my list of glorious cheeses.)
Later, I calmed down enough to snap a few photos:
|Ricki wearing her new medallion. She was hurrying to give Jamie a sample of a fabulous cheese from Canada.|
|Jamie (center) was joined by members of his family who live in North Carolina|
|Paul Dawson discovering the joys of good cheese at his first ACS conference|
The Cheese Sale for Scholarships
Off and on during the conference, Ricki and Jamie worked hard to label and wrap cheeses for the sale on Sunday. At that popular event, all the wedges of cheese left over from the festival were sold for "peanuts" to a clamoring crowd. It was "dog eat dog" in the room as the race was on to capture as much cheese as possible.
Ricki and Jamie were in charge and they broke the previous sales record by a mile. The proceeds go to the scholarship fund for cheesemakers to attend the conference.
The Cheese Queen was so busy, I couldn't get a photo that wasn't blurry.
We'll See You in 2013
Next year (2013) will be the 30th ACS Conference, located in Madison, Wisconsin from July 31st - August 3rd. I hope we'll see you there.