Taking place for the 9thyear in a row in New York City, the Cheesemonger Invitational attracts the best in the cheese business – bringing together dozens of cheesemongers from across the nation as well as the world’s top artisan cheesemakers and retailers. The delicious day and evening full of cheese discovery – considered by most to be the best cheese experience of one’s life – also puts cheesemongering skills and creativity on full display. For the first time, the event will take place at Brooklyn Expo Center, which will allow for more cheese, more competitors, and more people to join in on the fun.
The spirited competition is a decathalon of challenges for cheesemongers showcasing what cheesemongers do best – from preparing perfect bites and perfect pairings to cutting and wrapping cheese to dropping serious cheese knowledge. This year, the public is invited to watch the competition even earlier than years before: doors will open at 3pm, when mongers will be preparing and serving their "Perfect Bite" of cheese. For the first time, prior CMI champions will return to offer their own bites, also available in the earlier hours. Cheese expert and author Liz Thorpe will be the evening’s fortune teller – guests can simply tell her what they like, and she will guide them to the perfect artisan cheese within the event.
The evening presents table after table where artisan cheeses and specialty foods will be served by cheesemakers from around the world; highlights include Walter Rass and his Swiss Challerhocker, Jason Hinds with an incredible selection from Neal’s Yard Dairy in the UK, and top American makers from Cypress Grove, Nettle Meadow Farm and Vermont Creamery, among dozens of others. New food experiences abound every year, and this years’ highlights include:
- A whole pig from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, roasted by Ends Meat of Sunset Park and served with coleslaw and rolls.
- A Gorgonzola Dolce bar that offers gourmet mix-ins a la Cold Stone Creamery style, with a huge wheel of scoopable, creamy Gorgonzola - dreamed up by importer Columbia Cheese.
- Pork and beef kebabs as well as Halloumi and Bread Cheese skewers grilled on site by local retailer Foster Sundry, while ice cream will be doled out on site from the Jeni’s Ice Cream Truck.
- Cheeses plucked from the caves at Murray’s Cheese – highlighting the retailer’s entire Cavemaster Reserve line – plus a mac and cheese tasting station.
- Award-winning beer from Chicago’s Goose Island and cider from Michigan’s Virtue Cider will be poured all evening along with a selection of wines.
Adam Moskowitz, cheese industry leader and the brainchild behind the competition, will welcome more than 40 first time and returning cheesemongers to compete this year from New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, South Carolina as well as in and around the New York area.
The Cheesemonger Invitational experience for competitors takes place over three days, including intimate round table discussions with cheesemakers at a ‘meet the maker’ day, and a new day focused entirely on best practices at the cheese counter. Come competition day on Saturday, the decathalon consists of: 1) Written Test 2) Taste Test 3) Aroma Test 4) Cut a Quarter Pound 5) Wrap a Quarter Pound 6) Wrap a Half Wheel 7) Salesmanship 8) Perfect Beverage Pairing 9) Perfect Plate 10) Perfect Bite.
The Cheesemonger Invitational takes place bi-annually in NYC in June and in San Francisco in January. Most recent winners include Jordan Edwards of Pastoral Artisan Cheese in Chicago in summer 2017, and Rory Stamp of Dedalus Wine in Burlington, VT in winter 2018. The championship prize includes $1,000, a week-long trip to the UK and apprenticeship with Neal’s Yard Dairy, a trip to the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival and visit to the Cellars at Jasper Hill, and more.
Tickets are $80/pp for guests 21+ at www.cheesemongerinvitational.com. Ticket price includes entry into this amazing feast for the senses; in addition, some of the vendors on site will be offering products for sale to take home.