20 Cheese People to Know: Culture's 2024 Hot List | culture: the word on cheese
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20 Cheese People to Know: Culture’s 2024 Hot List

When culture called upon readers to suggest rockstars for our second annual Hot List roundup, we were absolutely blown away by not only the sheer number of nominations, but the fervor with which each nomination was championed. Scrolling through the list of entries and reading comments about why each person should be selected was incredibly inspiring—big things are happening in the cheese world, y’all!

culture tasked four judges with ranking folks on a scale of 1 to 5 in the following categories: Innovation, Craftsmanship, Dedication, and Community Engagement. Then, we compiled the data to produce a score for each candidate and selected a group of 20 stars for our 2024 Hot List class. You’ll find makers, mongers, educators, and influencers, and discover how they entered the world of cheese, what inspires them, and what they see on the horizon for their careers. From “aha moments” such as describing a tasting note as “like a sea breeze,” to unpretentiously and unashamedly dipping hot dogs in rounds of gooey cheese for an indulgent snack, we hope you enjoy learning about the great folks that keep our community fresh and funky.

The Judges

Andy Hatch, Co-owner and Cheesemaker at Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, Wisconsin

Kyra James, Owner of Own Your Funk, and Curriculum Development Director of the Cheese Culture Coalition

Mike Koch, President and Co-founder of Firefly Farms in Accident, Maryland

Veronica Pedraza, Head Cheesemaker at Blakesville Creamery in Port Washington, Wisconsin

The Hot List

Molly Browne hot list

Molly Browne, ACS CCP, ACS CCSE

Education Director, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cutting the Curd Podcast

Cara Warren, Joe Salonia, & Jessica Kesselman

Alisha Norris Jones, ACS CCP

Freelance Cheesemonger, Immortal Milk
Chicago, Illinois

Rachel Pineda

Co-owner and Cheesemonger, Otto’s Cheese Shop
New Braunfels, Texas

Miguel Vivanco

Head Cheesemaker, The Farm at Doe Run
Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Holly Aker, ACS CCP

Founder, Local Goods Gathered
Portland, Maine

Inga Witscher-Orth

Owner, St. Isidore’s Dairy
Osseo, Wisconsin

Emilia D’Albero, ACS CCP

National Sales and Marketing Manager, Formaticum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Emmy Rener

Founder, Sophisticated Spreads
Los Angeles, California

Pat Ford

Co-owner of Beehive Cheese Company
Uintah, Utah

Josh Windsor

Senior Caves Manager and Affineur, Murray’s Cheese
New York City, New York

Lily Orr

Cheesemaker, Blakesville Creamery
Port Washington, Wisconsin

Agela Abdullah

President, the Cheese Culture Coalition
Chicago, Illinois

Janee’ Muha, ACS CCP

Producer Advocate and Dairy Creative, the Mobile Monger
Seattle, Washington

Ji Soo Hong, ACS CCP

Illustrator and Marketing Specialist, Forever Cheese
New York City, New York

Kimi Ceridon

Owner and Head Cheese, Life Love Cheese
Instructor of Artisan Cheese Program at Boston University
Medford, Massachusetts

Carmen Licon, PhD

Director, Dairy Products Technology Center, CalPoly San Luis Obispo
Director, Pacific Coast Coalition-Dairy Business Innovation Initiative
San Luis Obispo, California

John Braga, ACS CCP

Wholesale Cheesemonger, Food Matters Again
New York City, New York

Jessica Fernandez Lopez

President, Mexican Coalition of Cheese Cheesemonger, Lactography
Founder, Mexican Mongers
Cheese Specialist and Fortuitous Cheesemaker

Mexico City, Mexico

Rob Graff

Events Director and Cheesemonger, Venissimo Cheese
Co-founder, Venissimo’s Academy of Cheese and Veni Voyages
Co-founder, Liquid City SD
San Diego, California

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Culture is America's first and best magazine devoted to the love of cheese. Explore our website for stunning photos, cheesemaker profiles, recipes, wine, beer, and a community of readers always willing to help and chat.

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