Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

We’re Tops in Cheese Expertise

By Lindsay Robison, September 13, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Lindsay Robison

Don’t know asiago from affinage? Whole Foods Market® cheesemongers do, and 77 of them put their expertise on display at the second annual American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional™ exam.

The exam tests cheesemongers’ mastery of all things cheese, including cheese making, ripening, storage, handling, nutrition and more. Those who pass the exam are part of an elite few who have mastered all aspects of cheese, from farm to counter. Whole Foods Market now has 147 Certified Cheese Professionals, the largest number of certified cheese experts in the world!

“Whole Foods Market cheesemongers are as passionate as they are talented when it comes to cheese, and we have worked hard to train them to earn this highest honor with classes, group study, and even field trips to dairies,” said Cathy Strange, global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market. “Our Team Members love sharing their deep knowledge with our shoppers, so helping them become certified is really a win-win-win for the cheesemonger, Whole Foods Market and our customers.”

The Whole Foods Market cheesemongers who passed this year’s exam represent 2 countries, 21 states and 67 stores.

“I’m so thankful to Whole Foods Market for its commitment to education and to artisan cheese producers and for the opportunity to turn my passion into a career,” said Janelle Libertone, cheesemonger at our Sebastopol store. “I’m proud to work for a company that lends so much support to develop its Team Members and I’m proud to be a Certified Cheese Professional.”

The exam was held July 31, in conjunction with the 30th Annual American Cheese Society conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Certification is valid for three years and is renewable for additional three-year periods through a formal recertification process.

To commemorate this accomplishment, we teamed up with several cheesemakers to have our 2012 Certified Cheese Professionals make special cheeses, which will be available in our stores nationwide starting this fall. The cheeses and cheesemongers include:

  • MT TAM from Cowgirl Creamery, made by Leah McFadden and Danielle Slater from northern California
  • Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chevre, made by Lisa Purrington from the Fairview store, Brad Daschbach from the Arabella store and Kristin Paine from the Cambie store
  • Asiago from SAXON Creamery, made by Kari Foley from Florida
  • Gran Queso from EMMI Roth USA, made by Tiffany Cunningham from the global cheese team
  • Bonne Bouche from Vermont Butter and Creamery, made by Shannon Tallman from the Portland, Maine store

Are you passionate about cheese? What question would you ask our cheesemongers?  

Category: Cheese




Cindy Bartoli says ...
I tried Vintage Grand Ewe cheese at the Hinsdale store and LOVED it! Every week I would buy a new piece. One week, much to my dismay there wasn't any left! I asked and they told me they couldn't get anymore as it was a "shipper". What's a girl to do now? Please help!
09/14/2013 1:01:40 PM CDT
Gerald Moore says ...
GREAT INFO... Thanks
09/16/2013 10:17:38 AM CDT
Brenda Rawson says ...
I would like you to offer more low sodium cheeses & dairy products. I am a kidney failure patient & this would help diversify I my diet options. Also many other health issues such as congestive heart failure would benefit from more food choices.
09/16/2013 10:48:08 AM CDT
Honey Wheeler says ...
I can't seem to find Roaring 40s Blue cheese in your (southern California) stores any longer. I would love it if you would start stocking it again!
09/19/2013 6:41:34 PM CDT
Lynette Mangels says ...
Do you ever stock these cheeses Epoisses & Pont L'Eveque at you Arlington, TX store?
09/24/2013 7:16:42 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LYNETTE - Our products vary between locations. I would encourage you to check with the Arlington store directly to see if this is something they typically have in stock!
09/25/2013 1:53:22 PM CDT
Diana Hayden says ...
Have an upcoming party and am looking for Rum Runner cheese. You were carrying it and the only ones I could find it at. Any of the stores in the Sacramento area carrying it still? We bought it the whole time in Hawaii and came home and bought it, but now can't find it anywhere. Can you help?
09/30/2013 11:07:31 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DIANA - Our products vary between stores and regions. I would suggest calling your local store directly to find out if they can track this down for you!
09/30/2013 12:08:00 PM CDT
Bruce Emmel says ...
Do you carry Raclette cheese?
10/14/2013 10:33:32 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@BRUCE - Our exact products vary between stores. Check with your local store to see if they have this in stock!
10/14/2013 5:25:04 PM CDT
gus says ...
I used to buy Goat cheese at Whole foods, recently I cannot find my favorite. It is Brown in color made from caramelized goat milk. The taste was wonderful. the brown color masked in a red wrapper may have put some customers off. Before that you had it in San Jose Whole foods by another company. Where can i get it. Layfette , Ca. Whole Foods never heard of it. Gus
10/14/2013 8:02:38 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@GUS - We are decentralized so our products vary between locations. I would suggest calling the San Jose store where you purchased the cheese and find out the name. Then you can call a store in your area to see if they carry it!
10/15/2013 2:54:07 PM CDT
Mrs Kristi L. Farrell says ...
I am looking for Pointe Reyes Blue Cheese, Le Chevrot Goat Cheese and Brilliat Savarin triple cream cheese.
10/22/2013 3:22:00 PM CDT
Jean says ...
Do you carry Munchee cheese? I'm not sure of the spelling. It is a mild, white, sliced cheese. We cannot find a local store that carries it. If you do, how much is it per pound? If you don't carry it, do you know where it might be sold? Thank you for your assistance!
10/25/2013 4:57:13 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JEAN - Our products vary between stores. Reach out to your local store to find out if they have this in stock!
10/28/2013 1:56:56 PM CDT
wayne says ...
My wife and i are branching out with our pallet.Are there any cheese tastings available without a high price to get in?
11/08/2013 6:17:11 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@WAYNE - A lot of our stores will offer free cheese tastings. Check with your local store for details. You can also always ask for a cheese sample at your local store and they'll be happy to let you try it out!
11/11/2013 1:41:13 PM CST
Janet Williams says ...
When I lived in America, at Christmas time there was always a supermarket everywhere selling a whole brie cheese either encased in cranberry, walnuts, apricots et al or with these same ingredients inside the cheese and they were divine! I have tried to find something similar in the UK but they don't seem to offer such delicacies, and I'm hoping that good old American Whole Foods might be offering this for the festive season. Any idea? Many thanks. Regards, Janet
12/04/2013 9:50:54 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JANET - It's very possible we have these. Our stores in the US typically have this but check with the exact store you plan to shop with in the UK and they'll be happy to look in to it for you!
12/04/2013 5:18:19 PM CST
Rodger Padgett says ...
I just got a coin cut half round of Rogue River Blue. Should I remove it from the plastic wrap immediately? How should I store it and how long can I store it? What I really want to do is eat it. Thanks, Rodger
12/11/2013 8:05:28 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@RODGER - I would highly recommend eating it! You can leave it in the plastic if you're like or store in the fridge in a ziploc or tupperware once it's opened. There should also be a sell-by date on the label for how long the cheese is good for.
12/12/2013 1:35:40 PM CST
mimi14402 says ...
Im trying to remember the name of a cheese I bought. It starts with a B......Buseta something. Can you help me?
01/23/2014 10:45:49 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MIMI14402 - Since our cheeses can differ between locations, I would suggest that you call the store directly where you purchased the cheese. They will be happy to help!
01/24/2014 2:38:13 PM CST
Rob says ...
I knew there was a cheese exchange. Though I never knew there was an American Cheese Society, with Certified Cheese Professionals. Great Blog Linsey Robinson.
02/24/2014 7:17:13 PM CST
L.Berk says ...
Do carry munchee cheese in the Milwaukee WI area? Thank You
02/10/2015 8:48:48 PM CST