Utah’s Cheese Whizzes

It was big news when Matt Caputo, Troy Peterson and Andy Fitzgerrell passed the inaugural American Cheese Society “Certified Cheese Professional” exam back in 2012. This year, the ACS folks unveiled a new certification exam at the conference in Pittsburgh – the T.A.S.T.E. exam (Technical, Aesthetic, Sensory, Taste Exam). Thirty-two people from around the continent sat for the inaugural exam. Eight of them were from Utah, and all eight passed:
Mariah Christensen, Max Christensen, Sean McKee and Matthew DeLoach of Harmons Grocery; Oliver Ford and Britton Welsh of Beehive Cheese; Sherri Allen (locally-based, international cheese socialite) and Andy Fitzgerrell.

Utah Cheese
The new big Utah cheese whizzes

Fun fact: Utah has more CCSE’s (certified cheese sensory evaluators) than any other state. The group studied together, twice a week, for about 4-5 months and they all brought cheeses—some of questionable quality, according to Fitzgerrell—in order to get aligned on what flavors and attributes were presented. In other words, the group ate a lot of BAD cheese.

Yes, there were some good cheeses, but the Utah group focused on the stuff that was “off” because they knew that was what a lot of the test was going to be based around. Within the specific cheese categories, candidates had to assess for up to 65 attributes – both positive and negative—in a single cheese. It was actually really fun, according to Fitzgerrell.

The good news for us uncertified cheese-lovers is that now we have all those experts on hand to help us learn. 

See all of our food and drink coverage here.

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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