The 2024 Hot List: Emilia D'Albero | culture: the word on cheese
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The 2024 Hot List: Emilia D’Albero

This story is part of culture’s 2024 Hot List. Click here to learn more about the selection process and to see the entire list of recipients.

Photo Credit: Nick Karp

Emilia D’Albero, ACS CCP

National Sales and Marketing Manager, Formaticum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Emilia D’Albero is a nationally awarded cheesemonger and educator who has worked behind some of New York City’s largest and most reputable cheese counters as both a monger and buyer. She’s taught cheese and pairing classes throughout New York City and New Jersey for brands, publications, high schools and universities, breweries, cooking schools, and corporate and private clients. D’Albero is currently the Sales & Marketing Manager for Formaticum and is committed to educating cheese professionals and consumers alike about proper cheese care and maintenance. She is also the Director of Programming for the Barnyard Collective, an educational space based in Larkin Cold Storage in Long Island City. In her free time, she volunteers with the Cheese Culture Coalition and creates unique education content for social media that showcases her counter work, cheese travels, and producer visits.

What was your big “aha moment” when you entered this industry?

I was less than a year into my cheese career when I found myself competing in my first Cheesemonger Invitational. I was new and inexperienced but passionate about cheesemongering and hungry to learn more. I had always been a misfit and an outcast, but being surrounded by fellow mongers made me realize I had found a community where I not only fit in, but was also welcomed with open arms. I made some of my best friends that weekend and connected with many mongers and producers I admire who continue to inspire me nearly seven years later.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve experienced or overcome in the industry?

Working in an independent grocery store in New York City during the pandemic was incredibly difficult. I’ve spent the past year re-learning how to really rest and relax and process what we all went through those first few years of COVID. What the past few years have taught me is that we should all be treating our bodies and our minds with the same care and respect we give cheese, because that is how we can truly be at our best—and because we deserve that kind of peace.

Pair a celebrity with a cheese.

Taylor Swift and Gruyère. The younger version is familiar and easily digestible, and the complexity increases with age, but it never becomes unapproachable. Your favorite era or age profile is something you go back to again and again because it’s comforting and never loses its charm. It can be both savory and sweet—and sometimes it seems like it’s everyone’s favorite—but most of the time, it’s worth the hype. A household name with a well-earned reputation.

You’re on a desert island and can only eat one cheese for the rest of your life. What is it?

Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano. I never get tired of snacking on this elite example of the King of Cheese. Every bite is more delightful and satisfying than the last.

What is a pairing you’re ashamed to love?

Shame is for cowards. I love dipping hot dogs in hot cheese, and I’ll tell anyone who asks because it’s delicious. Fondue, Vacherin Mont d’Or, Uplands Cheese Rush Creek Reserve, Jasper Hill Farm Harbison—you name it, I’ll shamelessly dip a hot dog in it.

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