Earlier this month, 153 people became Certified Cheese Professionals by taking the official exam offered by the American Cheese Society. The rigorous test covers topics ranging from the cheesemaking process to how to store cheese to cheese history – knowledge potential test-takers will have likely incurred during the required 4,000 hours of work or training in the cheese field completed prior to exam time.
One of those who passed the exam, cheese writer Jeanne Carpenter, released the following statement on her blog about her preparation for the exam:
For six months prior to the test, I read nothing that was not cheese-related. Cheesemaking books and cheese industry tomes made up a permanent stack next to the couch in our living room. I promised myself that if I passed, I’d reward my self with a Mountain Dew and a People magazine – which other than the Sunday New York Times, is about the only non-cheese related publication I’ve read in 2014.
In short, the process of becoming a Certified Cheese Expert is long, arduous, and requires a lot of time and effort in order to pass; the exam certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you want to improve your cheese knowledge, especially when it comes to tasting, there are some (less intensive) steps you can take.
For example, while studying abroad in the Netherlands, Boston resident Emily White received certification as a cheese tasting professional simply by taking one class. This class is found in Amsterdam, at the popular Reypenaer Tasting Room. Here, people can take one-hour classes in which they try different Dutch cheeses, pair them with a variety of wines, and give feedback to the mongers working there.
Sound good? You can find similar programs in the US – while you likely won’t get any sort of official certification on paper, you can rest assured knowing you’ve increased your cheese knowledge. Sign up for a cheese tasting crash course, attend a cheese festival, study our FAQ-laden Cheese 101 page, and take tips from the experts. Speaking of experts, why not begin where many aspiring CCPs do – our very own cheese library. Happy studying!Photo Credit: Di Bruno Bros.