7th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival Seminar Series
Bringing guests face-to-face with the experts who work with and create some of America’s best artisan cheeses, the Saturday seminars and workshops tend to sell out early every year. Some of the experts that will be leading seminars this year are:
Janet Fletcher, author and co-author of more than 20 books on food and wine and San Francisco Chronicle columnist on cheese, will be leading the “New Kids on the Cheese Block” seminar and the “Cheese Meets Beer: Strategies for Harmony” seminar with Rich Higgins, one of six Master Cicerones® in the world. Some of Janet’s many books include “Cheese & Wine,” “The Cheese Course” and “Fresh from the Farmers’ Market.” She writes a weekly cheese column for the San Francisco Chronicle and is a former staff food writer whose journalism earned three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award. Her writing on wine and food has appeared in numerous national magazines, including Saveur, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine.
Award-winning author and lecturer Laura Werlin will be leading the “Mac & Cheese, Please! Plus Wine = Perfection!” seminar as well as “Old World, New World Cheeses.” An expert in American artisan cheese, Laura received the prestigious James Beard award for her book “The All American Cheese and Wine Book,” which was the first of its kind to focus entirely on cheese and wine pairing. Her new book, “Mac & Cheese, Please!” along with two of her other books, “Great Grilled Cheese” and “Grilled Cheese, Please!” are odes to the world’s favorite heart-warming comfort food. She also received a prestigious James Beard award nomination for her book, “Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials.”
Four well-known female artisan cheese experts and chefs will be teaming up to lead a very tasty and informative seminar entitled “Cooking with Cheese.” Janne Rasmussen is the Sales Manager for Cypress Grove Chevre in Arcata, CA and a native of Humboldt County. With a background in competitive dairy products evaluation and a keen interest in tasting and cooking with cheese, this self-taught chef brings passion and fun to the time-honored tradition of gathering people and food together. Jennifer Luttrell is Point Reyes Farmstead executive chef and culinary program director at The Fork. Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, founded in 2000, is the only classic style blue cheese made in California. Lenny Rice-Moonsammy grew up in Hugo, Okla., and was inspired by her mom’s cooking at an early age. Her desire to work with the best food, wine and chefs in the country drove Lenny to the Napa Valley, where she worked for Robert Mondavi Winery, followed by Cowgirl Creamery and now Bellwether Farms in Sonoma County. Lenny’s extreme cheese knowledge led her to persuade foodie friend Brigid Callinan to co-author a cookbook titled “Fondue.” Jacqueline Buchanan has more than 20 years of culinary experience and an enduring passion for artisanal, local, and sustainably grown foods. Today, as Director of Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, Jacquelyn’s enduring interest in the art of fine cheesemaking overlays her sensibility when it comes to educating others about artisan cheese.
Mary Karlin, cooking teacher, cookbook author and freelance food writer, will be leading two cheese making workshops including “Simple, Fresh Same-Day Cheeses” and “Fresh Cultured Cheeses.” She was a founding staff member and is currently a visiting chef-instructor at the award-winning Ramekins Culinary School in Sonoma, Calif., where she has taught wood-fired cooking, cheese making, and Mediterranean-themed cooking classes for more than ten years. She has published two books, “Wood-Fired Cooking” and “Artisan Cheese Making at Home.” Mary is also a regular chef-instructor locally at The Fork at Point Reyes, The Cheese School of San Francisco, and Relish Culinary Center in Healdsburg, Calif., as well as prominent culinary venues around the United States.
In addition to actively managing their 70 head herd of dairy goats, Gianaclis Caldwell is the cheesemaker and owner (along with her husband, Vern Caldwell) of Pholia Farm, a licensed dairy located on 24 of the 200 plus acres on which she was raised in southern Oregon. Gianaclis will be leading two cheesemaking seminars entitled “Cheesemaking for the Extreme Hobbyist” and “The Secrets of Making Stretched Curd Cheese” with Bob Peak of The Beverage People. Gianaclis is the author of two books, “Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers” and “The Farmstead Creamery Advisor: The Complete Guide to Building and Running a Small, Farm-Based Cheese Business.”
An internationally recognized chef, educator andauthor, John Ash is often referred to as “The Father of Wine Country Cuisine.” He opened his eponymous restaurant, John Ash & Company, in Santa Rosa in 1980, which was the first restaurant in Northern California wine country to focus on using local, seasonal ingredients to create dishes to complement the wines being made in the region. He has published two books, “American Game Cooking,” and “From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine.” The latter was awarded the prestigious Julia Child Award as "Best American Cookbook" in 1996. In his seminar entitled “Mixin’ It Up With Chef John Ash” he will explore and taste artisan mixed milk cheeses with a panel of cheesemaking experts.
After years of dreaming about opening her own cheese shop, Sarah Dvorak left the comforts of her cubicle in the fall of 2009 on a mission: cheese. She traveled across the country visiting dairies and cheese makers, seeking a deeper knowledge and connection with the craft. On this trip Sarah found the soul for Mission Cheese and in April of 2011 she opened the doors in the Mission District of San Francisco. Mission Cheese exclusively sells and serves American artisan cheeses, focusing on education, community and celebrating this burgeoning industry. Sarah will be leading a seminar entitled “Seasonal Pairings” where she and attendees will taste and discuss the different flavors that cheeses take on depending upon the season and some of the seasonal craft brews with which to pair them.
After becoming a professional brewer in 2004, Rich Higgins’ passion for beer led him to passing all three levels of examination from the Cicerone Certification Program®, and in 2010 he became the third Master Cicerone® in the world. The accreditation certifies him as an excellent interpreter of palate and the ways in which beer develops and heightens a meaningful dining experience. Rich will be joining Janet Fletcher in leading a seminar entitled “Cheese Meets Beer: Strategies for Harmony.” With a passion for quality and respect for authenticity, Rich is dedicated to celebrating beer and food in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Three well-known Bay Area food bloggers and cheese authors are joining forces to lead a seminar entitled “On-line to On-plate: Bloggers Cook with Cheese.” Garrett McCord is a food writer, writing instructor, culinary consultant,freelance food photographer and recipe developer who loves to share his enthusiasm for food and the written word. He is the editor of the popular blog Vanilla Garlic and he is also the co-author of the cookbook “Melt: The Art of Macaroni & Cheese” with Stephanie Stiavetti which will hit shelves this year. Stephanie is a freelance food writer, recipe developer, and multimedia producer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared on KQED, NPR, the Huffington Post, and a host of other outlets. Stephanie can be found most regularly on her food blog, The Culinary Life, where she explores the boundless world of flavor and texture. Kirstin Jackson is the author of “It’s Not You, it’s Brie: Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese.” Kirstin is a cheese and wine writer, consultant, educator, professionally trained cook, wine bar manager and cheese program director, whose fridge and head is almost entirely consumed with cheese.
Bob Peak, partner at family owned and operated retail and mail-order store, The Beverage People, will be assisting Gianaclis Caldwell with the hands-on workshop “Cheesemaking: Two Italian-Style Cheeses – Mozzarella and Ricotta.” Bob began working with The Beverage People in 2003 after serving as General Manager at Vinquiry, a well-known Sonoma County wine laboratory for three and a half years. In addition to wine, he expanded his hobbies to brewing and, later, cheesemaking. Bob enjoys making the quick and fresh cheeses like mozzarella, paneer and fromage blanc, and is especially proud of his own recipe for a cheese he calls Petaluma Blue.
Co-founder of Napa’s Oxbow Cheese Merchant Lassa Skinner is leading a seminar entitled “Cheese 101 – How to Talk Cheese.” While in college, Lassa helped to open a gourmet market in Boston, where she was trained by a French cheesemaker. The passion hit her after her first taste of raw milk, aged goat cheese. Referred to as the “Queen of Cheese,” Lassa is also the founder of Culture Magazine and the co-author of “Cheese For Dummies.”
Cheese professionals Leah McFadden and Nancy Brunner are taking their expertise from behind the cheese counter at Whole Foods to lead a seminar entitled “Cheese Platters that Wow” where guests will learn to create an impressive cheese platter, no matter the budget, in this practical tasting session. Leah McFadden is a certified ACS Cheese professional and self-proclaimed foodie who is fulfilling the ultimate foodie dream working at Whole Foods as a Team Leader. When she’s not educating customers on cheese and making cheese recommendations for every occasion, she writes a blog titled Shootin’ the Bries. Nancy Brunner has worked in Bay Area restaurants for the past 25 years, including the last ten years as an executive chef. Her love of food, specifically cheese, led her to become a cheese specialist at Whole Foods Market in 2010, where she loves getting to share her passion, recipes and recommendations with guests.
All seminars will take place at the Festival’s host hotel, Sheraton Sonoma County–Petaluma (745 Baywood Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954). Seminar times are 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. The ticket price for the seminars and workshops includes a catered lunch by Petaluma Market from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $95 per person for the cheesemaking seminars and $65 per person for all other seminars. Several participating authors will also be signing and selling their books between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and between 3:30 p.m and 5 p.m. in the main lobby of the Sheraton Sonoma County.
Tickets to the Festival’s other weekend-long events are still available, including Farm Tour E, the Inaugural Meet the Cheesemakers Reception, the Grand Tasting & Best in Cheese Competition, the Stark Reality Brunch with Chef Mark Stark and the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace. Tickets for all events can be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com.