Here’s a class I’d love to go to if I had a chance — Becoming a Cheesemonger, offered in Portland, Oregon, by the esteemed Steve Jones of Steve’s Cheese.
The press release announcing the class hit my inbox a couple of months ago, and in true post-journalistic form, I skimmed it quickly, decided there wasn’t a story, and hit Delete. Today, another email filtered through, this time announcing the May 1 registration deadline and now I’m thinking — wow, this is actually pretty cool. I could go to Portland for three days, hang out with Steve Jones, and learn how to be a real cheesemonger. Awesome.
The class runs for three days in June and is billed as a mini-apprenticeship. Steve, the son of a herdsman for Maytag Dairy, has had experience in every aspect of cheese distribution, purchasing and sales. He directed the cheese department for Provvista Specialty Foods Inc., and then spent more than two years as head cheesemonger at one location of New Seasons, the groundbreaking boutique supermarket chain. His next venture was acting as a broker for a group of Oregon artisan cheesemakers. In his spare time, he also did an internship at London’s revered cheese merchant, Neal’s Yard Dairy.
In November, 2005, Jones opened Steve’s Cheese, which can only be described as a compact wonderland of fine cheeses, cured meats and related hand-made food products. Read an interview with Steve here.
So, in addition to working with a great guy for three days, you’d also get to rub shoulders with Sasha Davies, of Cheese By Hand acclaim. Sasha is working at a cheesemonger at Steve’s Cheese these days. I got to hang out with her for a day at the California Artisan Cheese Festival last month — we toured some California farmstead dairies together and it was nice to catch up.
So for all you aspiring cheesemongers out there — this class sounds like a great opportunity to learn some tools of the trade. Now if I could just squeeze it into my schedule … sigh.