I happen to be lucky enough to work for a company that holds passionate expertise as one of its core values. We take it pretty seriously, too. This past year has taken me on a journey designed to implement that very value; I became a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society!
About 30 years ago, the American Cheese Society (ACS) was formed to provide a forum for the development of American artisan cheeses, taking fine European traditions and creating unique American specialties. As you shop your favorite Lunds or Byerly’s, even a quick perusal of our specialty cheese counters will prove to you the success of this venture. Our cheese education program has progressed leaps and bounds over the past years, due in no small part to the efforts of the ACS. It’s kind of a big deal.
The Lunds and Byerly’s cheese education program, led by two members of our team who passed the spring 2013 ACS certification exam (there were only 3 from Minnesota to pass it), is one more way we provide our customers with passionate expertise. We have more than 40 cheese specialists enrolled who meet regularly for tastings, seminars and yearly exams to test their cheese knowledge. From this cheese education program, three other cheese specialists and I were given the opportunity to become certified cheese specialists as well.
The ACS undertook a project eight years ago to create a certification exam, setting the highest standard for cheese professionals and to encourage improved criteria for comprehensive cheese knowledge and service. The three-hour, 150-question exam covers everything from chemistry, cheese making and transportation, to service, pairings and nutrition. In short, everything that has to do with cheese is included in some way on this comprehensive exam. It’s pretty intricate.
The prep for the exam was arduous, but delightful, consisting of mostly independent study. There was also an informative course of formal instruction at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in Madison. I read and read and read, and was able to draw on my 13 years of experience in the field to really make sense of the information.
Last month, I received notification that I passed the ACS Cheese Certification Exam, along with Alicia Baldwin, our cheese specialist at Byerly’s St. Louis Park! An amazing experience indeed – one that continues to pay off every day.
The best part of this experience has been connecting with our customers. Because of this extensive cheese certification, I’m having such fun sharing what I’ve learned with everyone who wants to learn. I even taught a class on the Sensory Experience of Cheddar at our Cooking School in Byerly’s St. Louis Park! I also provided training to my colleagues on the distribution and transportation of cheese during a field trip to Shepherd’s Way Farm in May.
I always take pride in creating a great shopping experience for you, and cheese is another fabulous avenue toward that end.
So I invite you, dear customer, to stop by and say hello. Thank you so much for trusting Lunds and Byerly’s to take care of your cheese and expand your cheese knowledge; it’s a privilege and an honor. I’ve got the certification to prove it!
Liz Nerud, cheese specialist at Lunds Central