The Cheesemonger Invitational
My ears are still ringing with the sounds of Adam Moscowitz’s voice at this year’s Cheesemonger Invitational (last Friday the 8th). Despite a depressing drizzle outside, the competition could still be heard and smelled from many yards away. Held in Larkin warehouse, in Long Island City, the event was a big frigging deal.
For perspective, note this: three Australian cheesemongers made the trip from down under JUST for this event.
I walked in during the first round, to the sound of cheesemongers introducing themselves and their favorite cheese in 30 seconds or less. Volume was high, and pockets of the crowd cheered as one after the other the mongers got up. Considering there were forty (or forty three, as was rumored) participants, this round endured the longest.
The following rounds were tough – blind tasting six cheese, cut and wrap, and plating – and 30 mongers were cut in rounds two and three. I checked in with several of the mongers between challenges, and all were in high spirits, taking everything in stride (see our twitter feed).
Kate Arding, Stephanie Skinner (our publisher) and I were privy to the judges’ room throughout, which was tense. They had a lot of mongers to grade.
As the competition unfolded, Matt Rubiner, last year’s victor, hovered near the top of the list, along with Anne Saxelby, but in the end both were bested by the bearded Steve Jones of the Cheese Bar in Portland, Oregon, who took home $1,000 and some huge bragging rights.
Poul Price of Consider Bardwell Farm took second place, winning $500 and a prize package, and Anne Saxelby, of Saxelby Cheese took third, winning $300 and a prize package. Zeke Fergusen of Di Bruno Bros. took fourth place, and last year's winner Matt Rubiner took fifth. Well played sirs and ma'am.
The whole shebang wrapped up around 2am, after starting at 7, and by that time the crowd was thoroughly tired, and/or sauced. The resilient Allison Hooper (VT Butter and Cheese) was up bright and early the next day to hop in the culture caravan down to the Fancy Food Show in DC. She’s quite the trooper!