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Introducing Our 2017 Sartori Scholars!

Alisha Jones and Matt Reilly

Earlier this year, culture and Sartori welcomed cheesemongers to apply for the 2017 Sartori Scholar competition. The scholarship covers all expenses related to taking the ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam, which will take place in Denver this July. We heard from so many talented mongers and it was difficult for our panel of judges to select just two winners.

This year’s Scholars are Alisha Jones and Matthew Reilly. We asked them both to share a bit about why they decided to take the CCP Exam, how they’re preparing for it, and what they’re most looking forward to at this year’s ACS Conference and Competition in Denver. We wish you both the best of luck next month!

Alisha Jones

Alisha has been a cheesemonger for four years and currently works at Whole Foods in Chicago.

I’ve worked with cheese for the past 3-4 years, the majority of it split between working as an untrained (yet enthusiastic) pastry assistant and as a Whole Foods Specialty Team Member. I learned how to plate cheese for 300 guests a night before I’d seen my first cheese wire. Eventually, I’d like to head my own cheese program in a fine dining setting; obtaining CCP status will hopefully increase my chances.

Besides studying 2-3 hours a day, six days a week, my study regimen includes flash card-making, and (oddly enough) working the counter at Whole Foods. My customers have started asking strangely specific questions that relate to whatever I’m studying at the moment. It’s fantastic, if not a little eerie.

Out of all the events at the ACS Conference this year, I’m most excited for the “Unconventional Cheese Pairings” tasting session. As a female monger with a background in the restaurant industry, Tia Keenan is an inspiration. I can’t wait to try her pairings, as well as possibly score an autograph. Fingers crossed! 

Matthew Reilly

Matthew has worked as a cheesemonger for five years and was named Cheese Monger Invitational Champion in San Francisco in 2015. He currently runs a procurement and operations consultancy at specialty-ops.com

I applied to take the CCP Exam so that I could gauge the knowledge I have, with the established standard, and through the process of preparing, grow my scope to better serve a wider range of specialty cheese customers.

I made digital flashcards that are multi-platform and organizable by whatever area of study I choose. Studying also gives me a good excuse to read through The Oxford Companion to Cheese.

At ACS this summer in Denver, I am most excited about Sam Frank’s Daphne Zepos Teaching Award presentation. I have been following his journey of discovery of indigenous dairy breeds and am curious to find out what he has learned through his research.

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