Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

We’re Tops in Cheese Expertise

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?