Fabien Degoulet, a French cheesemonger currently working out of Tokyo, took home the top honor at the “International Best Cheesemonger Competition 2015” in Tours, France, on June 7. The competition was part of the Mondial du Fromage, a three-day trade show where exhibitors and cheese enthusiasts from all around the world come together to see who is on top of their game and which cheeses reign supreme. Degoulet beat out eleven other candidates in a series of theoretical and practical tests in order to claim the title of World’s Best Cheesemonger. Contestants were evaluated for their pairing savvy, production knowledge, cutting abilities, and cheese presentation. To test cheese preparation skills on a level playing field, all twelve contestants were given a budget and shopped around for their cheese plates the night before. Along with the cheesemonger competition, the Mondial du Fromage held an International Products Competition. in which cheeses and dairy products from over twenty different countries won medals ranging from Super Gold to Bronze.
While the entire trade show was a spectacle to behold, all eyes were on the Frenchman deemed to be the greatest cheesemonger in the world. Born in Le Mans, Fabien Degoulet was brought up in the cheese world from an early age, raised by dairy farmers who sold their products at local markets. After graduating from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Degoulet moved to Japan where he now works for Fermier and manages their head office. Coming in second to Degoulet was fellow Frenchman Guillaume Cardinet, an independent cheesemonger working for the past five years in the region of Isère. Third place went to Belgian cheesemonger Nathalie Venhaver, working out of the city of Bra, Italy.
Six countries were represented in the final round of the cheesemonger competition, with over half of the contestants coming from France and Belgium. Among the pack were two American cheesemongers, Perry Soulos of Arrowine Cheese and Spirits in Arlington, Virginia, and Justin Trosclair of The St. James Cheese Company in New Orleans. Trosclair, apart from his vaunted status as occasional culture contributor, had previously won the title of top cheesemonger in the US at the 2013 Cheesemonger Invitational in New York.
While the Americans gave up a good fight, M. Degoulet could make the case that, when it comes to cheese, the French have the edge over their cousins across the pond. But at least we have Mr. Moo, right?
Take us away, Moo-ster:
Feature Photo Credit: “World’s Best Cheesemonger” by Mondial du Fromage 2015 in Tours