Behind the Curtain at the World Championship Cheese Contest
On her blog Cheese Underground,Jeanne Carpenter gives us the lowdown on what happened behind the scenes at this week's World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison:
One group wears white caps and white jackets, and stands in front of the red velvet curtains. These are the judges. From Argentina to Australia, 20 international cheese experts wind their way to Madison to spend three days inspecting, sniffing, tasting and spitting out everything from Gruyere to Gorgonzola (they spit out each cheese so as to not have hundreds of samples mulling around in their tummies - I'm not sure all the Pepto Bismol in the world could cure that kind of stomach ache).
The second group wears blue hats and white coats, and mostly works behind the red velvet curtains. This is the "B Team", as they are affectionately called, and these are the folks - all Wisconsin cheesemakers and industry volunteers - who unbox and unpack each and every piece of cheese for the judges to inspect, and then repack and rebox to put back on pallets to be zipped back to the cooler by another set of volunteers who have moving pallets down to a science.