North America’s artisan and specialty cheesemakers are getting ready to gather in a place many of them call home. The American Cheese Society will hold its 24th annual conference, Achieving Sustainability, Aug. 1 – 4 in Burlington, Vt.



North America’s artisan and specialty cheesemakers are getting ready to gather in a place many of them call home. The American Cheese Society will hold its 24th annual conference, Achieving Sustainability, Aug. 1 – 4 in Burlington, Vt.

Burlington was selected for this year’s conference site, in part because of the impressive number of cheese producers found in Vermont and throughout the Northeast.

The conference, which brings together cheesemakers, academicians, enthusiasts, marketing and distribution specialists, food writers and cookbook authors, and specialty food retailers from the U.S., Canada and Europe, celebrates the widespread enthusiasm for American specialty cheese.

Scheduled activities include educational seminars on subjects such as the art of maturing cheese, a Chef’s Cheese Cook-off; an international cheese competition and guest cheesemaker dinners at restaurants throughout the greater Burlington area. The conference highlight, The Festival of Cheese will showcase more than 1,000 artisan cheeses available for tasting.

“We are thrilled to have the conference returning to the East Coast this year, and Vermont is an ideal location,” says Marci Wilson, executive dir. of the American Cheese Society (ACS). “Our Vermont cheesemakers are an impressive force in the growing number of superb artisanal cheeses being produced in North America.”

More than 800 attendees are expected. 

The Annual Cheese Judging has become one of the most important competitions in the world, and the conference buzzes before and after the category winners and best of show winner are revealed.

 “The competition highlights North America’s best new cheeses and emerging trends in the cheese world,” says Allison Hooper, pres. of Vermont Butter and Cheese and current pres. of ACS. “A look at the blue ribbon winners truly provides a snapshot of the industry; the hot new categories, advancements in production techniques and the cheesemakers to watch.”

Other conference programs include a Meet the Cheesemaker event, Good Milk Quality and Good Cheese, Flavor Characteristics and Chemistry in True Cheddar, Size and Farmstead Sustainability, Affinage-a Trip Through Environmental Requirements, Of Grass and Fermentation-the Marriage of Beer and Cheese, Traceability, Merchandizing Artisan Cheese, and Dessert Wines and Hard Ciders paired with cheese.   

Registration for the conference can be done on line at the ACS web site www.cheesesociety.org.  Conference organizers are urging early registration as space is limited and last year’s conference did sell out. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center, and special rates are available.

Sidebar: Highlights of the Conference Schedule

Festival of Cheese:
The spectacular event of the conference takes place on Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center. The festival is open to the public and it is included in Cheese Enthusiast’s all-day ticket package. The Festival of Cheese showcases more than 1000 artisan cheeses from artisan cheesemakers around the country. Attendees can stroll from table to table tasting artisan, specialty and farmstead cheeses, butters, spreads and yogurts from more than 90 categories. Local chefs will prepare “cheesy” dishes for tasting.

American Cheese Society Chef’s Cheese Cook-off:
On Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Conference center, the cook-off will follow the format of the Food Network’s popular Iron Chef show. Competing chefs will use cheese as the main ingredient to create a dish for the panel of local and national media judges. Master of Ceremonies will cover the culinary action during the 90-minute cheese competition. This informative and fun event will offer creative ideas for adding cheese to everyday dishes.

Dine Around Cheesemaker Dinners & Sunset Cruise
On Friday, participating restaurants will prepare a tasting menu with cheese - from appetizer to dessert. National cheesemakers will be paired with local chefs for a creative and delicious evening of cheese. Optionally, attendees can take a cruise along Lake Champlain aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen, which will depart at 7:45 p.m.

Vermont Cheese Trail Creamery and Farmstead Tours
These limited attendee tours take place on Wednesday morning and include stops at Vermont Butter and Cheese and Cabot Creamery on the Creamery Tour. The Farmstead Tour features the Woodstock Water Buffalo Farm, which produces yogurt and mozzarella; and Neighborly Farms, a 168-acre organic farm which produces a variety of cheeses. 

For a complete list of ACS events, times, and costs, please call the ACS headquarters at 502/583-3783 or go to www.cheesesociety.org.