| Cheese & Fromage:
Montreal in Two Minutes: We're excited to take our annual Conference & Competition to Montr�al this August -- and this video gives us even more to look forward to! Check out "Montr�al in Two Minutes" for a look at the sights, sounds, and tastes that are in store for ACS members this August 3-6.
Business Across the Border: For U.S.-based members curious about what Canada has in store for their business, this recent report shows increasing opportunities for U.S. foodservice businesses in Canada.
Time to Start Planning! It's time to renew your passport and start thinking about flights and hotels for the 2011 conference -- look for details about discounted airfare through AirCanada, and hotel rooms at Le Westin Montr�al, in the next issue of CheeseBytes.
Save the Date!
Cheesemaker Winter Workshops
ACS is proud to offer our first-ever online workshop series for cheesemakers. These educational offerings will be offered exclusively to ACS members; workshops will be free for those members who participate live. Mark your calendar now, as you won't want to miss this series!
(More details about the series will be sent to members via separate email.)
Risk Reduction in Cheesemaking Facilities
- Monday, February 7, 2011
- 12:00 p.m. ET/9:00 a.m. PT
- Presenter: Dr. DJ D'Amico, Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese
Preparing a HACCP Plan
- Friday, February 25, 2011 (Tent.)
- 12:00 p.m. ET/9:00 a.m. PT (Tent.)
- Presenters: Ranee May, Falcon Dairy Food Plant at UW-River Falls; and Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Product Liability
- Tuesday, March 8, 2011
- 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT
- Presenter: Ken Odza, Stoel Rives, LLP
2011 ACS Scholarships
Each year, ACS -- in conjunction with the American Cheese Education (ACE) Foundation
-- awards scholarships to cheesemakers, local chefs, and students to attend the annual ACS Conference & Competition.
Applications are now being accepted for the following 2011 scholarships:
To apply, please download an application online, and submit it no later than Tuesday, March 8, 2011. Individuals must be active ACS members to apply.
- Cheesemaker Scholarship
- Local Chef Scholarship
- Student Scholarship
ACS will also make scholarships available to retailers in 2011. Applications for the John Crompton Memorial Scholarship for Retailers will be available on our website in early February. Look for more information in the February issue of CheeseBytes.
Congratulations to ACS Member Andrea Maguire!
Andrea Maguire, the cheesemaker at Spotted Goat Farm in Red Rock, Texas, was randomly selected to win a free 2011 conference registration from among the members who completed our ACS member survey. Andrea produces
small batches of chevre, feta, valencay, and manchego on her farm. We look forward to welcoming her to the conference in August!
ACS Members in Canada:
by Liz Campbell When Simon-Pierre Bolduc speaks of his family's farm, one can hear the passion he feels for La Station de Compton. "It's important to guard the traditions. This is a family farm and what we do on the farm is what creates the terroir for our milk," he says. "We want to make products of quality so we're proud of what we do."
La Station de Compton
Located in Quebec's picturesque Eastern Townships, just north of the Vermont border, this land has been in his family for more than a century; Alfred Bolduc, the family patriarch, first hewed trees for wood and tapped the maples for syrup in the early 1900s. It wasn't until the 1960s, when his son, Marcel, introduced Holstein cattle, that it became a dairy farm...(continue)
|Welcome 2011 with Fondue!
What better way to ring in the new year than sharing a warm pot of festive cheese fondue to share with friends and loved ones? Here are some of our favorite non-traditional fondue recipes:
Feta Fondue with Walnuts and Parsley
Whiskey-Cheddar Cheese Fondue
Roast Pumpkin with Cheese "Fondue"
Fondue with Chipotle and Tequila
|Payroll Impact of the
Tax Relief Act of 2010
The reduced Social Security withholding for 2011 (4.2% vs. 6.2%) was designed to increase employees' take home pay. Make sure your payroll system has been set up to calculate the new reduced rate before you run your first 2011 payroll in January. Any excess withholding must be corrected and reimbursed to employees by March 31, 2011 -- and it can't be applied toward federal income tax withholding. Follow the IRS guidelines to start the year off right and avoid accounting headaches down the road!
|Farewell to a Trailblazer: Sally Jackson Cheeses
ACS was deeply saddened to learn of the recent closure of Sally Jackson Cheeses in Oroville, WA. Sally Jackson was a pioneer in the artisan cheese industry in the Pacific Northwest. She worked quietly for 31 years to perfect her award-winning products, which were sought-after by a devoted following of cheesemongers, renowned chefs, and foodies from throughout the United States.
One of the first profiles of Jackson's cheesemaking operation was in a 1989 issue of New England Cheesemaking Supply's newsletter. When reading this piece, it is easy to understand why Jackson was considered such a trailblazer and a beloved figure in our industry.
Sally Jackson and her cheeses will be greatly missed by the ACS community.
|Welcoming a New Year of Opportunity
As we begin 2011, a new year with empty calendar pages brimming with possibility, I'm excited for a year full of opportunities for growth and change, community and celebration.
We come into the new year from an unsettled place. The past few months have been a whirlwind in the cheese world: inspections, recalls and creamery closures have rippled through our community, including the most recent closure of Sally Jackson Cheeses (see our tribute to Sally and her company in this issue -- my thoughts go out to all those who have been affected and inspired by her story and cheese).
We are in the throes of change. It is an inevitable state and synonymous with growth and maturation as an industry. Food safety and food policy have been, and will continue to be, something we will grapple with as individuals, businesses and as an industry. With the passage of the Food Safety and Modernization Act and its recent signing into law, there will be changes in the way all foods are regulated. In addition, the FDA is reviewing the 60 day rule (look for a story on this topic in the New York Times in the coming weeks).
ACS members tell me they want to make a difference, but how? Contact your congressperson and senators and engage them in a dialogue. Explain that you are a cheesemaker with an excellent track record for safety. Ask that they take an interest in ensuring that new policies will support your business. Hearing from constituents does make a difference! This is a time for our industry to lead in food safety.
Also, look for a call for participation from fellow cheesemakers in the February edition of CheeseBytes. A new task force will begin discussing, defining and further clarifying ACS's position that we "encourage the highest standards of cheesemaking." Want to be a part of that discussion? Stay tuned!
In the meantime, please take a look at your food safety processes and flow charts, and product and environmental testing. This is a good time to engage a third party independent inspector to evaluate your food safety plan, checklists and raw material and process flow. Many of our members are choosing to do just this and are sharing both audit and lab results. Contact the ACS office (720-328-2788) for the names of ACS members who can assist.
Finally, we are hearing about shortcourse food safety short courses from Oregon to California, Wisconsin to Vermont. Please forward information about these courses to [email protected] so they can be posted on ACS's website. This is a monumental effort and I appreciate everyone's commitment in sharing knowledge to help every one of our members produce food at the highest level. Any food safety crisis in the cheese industry reflects on all of us.
In the meantime, you won't want to miss the dynamic food-safety focused programming of our upcoming Winter Workshops for Cheesemakers (see details at left). This three-part online educational workshop is the first in a wide variety of programs that highlight education, one of ACS's main goals in 2011.
Finally, even as we go through this time of uncertainty and change, we must remember to celebrate the positive things afoot in the cheese community each and every day. Our social media initiatives will be further ramping up in February as we spread the word of great cheese from North America to our 1,100 Facebook fans! We'll also accentuate the positive in 2011 with the launch of American Cheese Week, a week of celebration recognizing all that is great about North American's artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses.
If you are a writer or blogger interested in getting more involved with ACS and helping us produce original content, please e-mail ACS Marketing and Communications Manager Rebecca Sherman to participate in our first social media call of 2011 in early Feburary.
All the best to you and yours in this new year!
|Membership Has Its Privileges
I'm excited for a new year and many new initiatives and opportunities for ACS and its members. ACS members have always counted on our valuable annual conference and prestigious competition as key benefits. But in the future, I hope you'll think of ACS as much more than a conference and competition. With new educational offerings like our Winter Workshops for Cheesemakers and exclusive money-saving benefits for members -- like a PartnerShip discount that can save you up to 21% on FedEx shipments and a Renaissance Associates discount that can help you save up to 20% on merchant services fees -- ACS is striving to become an invaluable partner to you and your business year-round.
One way that cheesemakers and producers of related products can use their ACS membership to extend their reach is to take part in special events that promote the quality and diversity of American cheeses. While spreading the word about American cheeses, ACS is also marketing your products on your behalf. Make a note of the events we have planned for 2011, and consider donating product or volunteering so that you (and your products) can gain visibility, reach new audiences, and find new markets:
June 3-4, 2011: SAVOR, Washington, DC
September 29-October 1, 2011: Great American Beer Festival, Denver, CO
December 9-11, 2011: National Wine Experience, Washington, DC
Be sure to keep your membership active so you can take advantage of these benefits and more in 2011! Check your mail later this month for your 2011 dues renewal. Members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a by-laws amendment to switch ACS to a calendar year dues schedule, so your renewal invoice will reflect pro-rated dues for the year. In addition to the great conference and competition that you always expect from ACS, we're proud that you'll get much more in 2011 than ever before.
Happy New Year,
Happy Re-New Year!
ACS members voted overwhelmingly (97%) in favor of changing the ACS by-laws so that our membership year and billing cycle run on a calendar basis. This change means that all memberships will now run from January 1 to December 31 each year. You'll receive your 2011 dues invoice later this month, and it will reflect your pro-rated 2011 dues based on your current renewal date.
We hope that you'll renew right away to take full advantage of the many new benefits, services, discounts, and opportunities ACS has in store for 2011. Here's a preview:
- Our first ever Winter Workshops for Cheesemakers kicks off this February. This three-part series focuses on the timely food safety issues you care most about. The online sessions are available free of charge exclusively to active ACS members.
- A more dynamic and user-friendly website will launch this spring! This will allow you to manage your own account online, easily access valuable resources, search the membership directory in a targeted fashion, and easily find the information you need when you need it.
- Opportunities to showcase your products at events that reach the right audience. ACS will be spreading the word about great American cheeses at wine, beer, and industry events throughout 2011.
- A one-of-a-kind experience at Cheese and Fromage: Common Cultures, our 2011 conference. Get your passport ready to head to beautiful Montr�al for networking, education, unique cheeses you won't find stateside, and opportunities to explore a thoroughly North American city with a European flair.
- Take part in American Cheese Week! ACS will be promoting the diversity, variety, and quality of American cheeses with the launch of American Cheese Week in 2011 -- a week of fun public events and educational outreach organized by ACS members around the country, to increase visibility for the cheese community.
- Continued advocacy on behalf of our members. In 2010, we issued position statements on Safe Cheesemaking and The Importance of Artisan, Farmstead, and Specialty Cheese. In 2011, look for us to address important issues facing cheese retailers.
- Timely information and updates on industry trends and news. Whether it's our jam-packed monthly CheeseBytes e-newsletter, or special correspondence from our Board of Directors, ACS keeps members in the know.
- Discount Programs: your membership in ACS can pay for itself, just by taking advantage of our affinity programs (see details below).
Save on Merchant Services Expenses with the ACS/Renaissance Associates Partnership
Through a special partnership with ACS, Renaissance Associates (RA) is now providing ACS members with competitive pricing on all aspects of their merchant services needs, from credit and debit card processing, to gift cards, to terminal/pos solutions -- and even wireless processing for mobile phones.
Since launching this partnership in the fall of 2010, RA has become the merchant services provider for a number of ACS members, and has provided those members with an average savings of 20% on processing fees.
Find out if RA can save your business money: fax a copy of your current processing statements to (866) 469-3761, and RA staff will perform a line-by-line analysis of your processing activity and fees. They will assess what your costs and savings would be by switching to RA -- and if they cannot provide you with savings, they will advise you to remain with your current processor. There is no obligation or fee; this review is a complimentary benefit extended to ACS members by RA.
Coming Soon! ACS Shipping Management Program from PartnerShip
In an ongoing effort to provide members with the money-saving tools they need to be successful, ACS is pleased to be developing a new member discount on the shipping services that so many of our members depend on every day: the ACS Shipping Management Program will be developed and managed by PartnerShip�, and will be available exclusively to ACS members.
The ACS Shipping Management Program will combine simplicity, service, and savings for ACS members on every shipment sent or received. The program will be free, with no obligations and no minimum shipping requirements. It is designed to allow members to save on every shipment -- around the corner, around the country, or around the world -- with world-class carriers and unbeatable customer service professionals, all at great discounts.
More details will be provided in the February issue of CheeseBytes. In the meantime, for more information or questions about the ACS Shipping Management Program, ACS members can contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or email [email protected].
Judging & Competition News
Happy New Year! Most of us have just made it through another hectic and challenging holiday season. We hope it was joyful and prosperous for all.
There's not much news to report on Judging & Competition since last month, as we've all been occupied with the Christmas rush. Talks and arrangements continue with our friends at Food and Agriculture in Qu�bec; conference co-chairs Joan Kimball, John Eggena, and Louis Aird; importer Gerry Albright; UPS; and others. As details fall into place, we will make them available to you.
The newly expanded and eager Judging & Competition Committee begins its regular conference calls this week, and we will be discussing some category changes and adjustments (thank you to cheesemakers and other members for your input via our conference and membership surveys, and elsewhere), rules language, the logistics of consolidation at the border, and more.
This is sure to be a busy year for our committee, and we will do our best to keep you up-to-date on all that's happening with the competition. We expect to have a meaningful update on how we will proceed, cheese in hand, into Montr�al by the time February's CheeseBytes hits your inbox. Please keep reading CheeseBytes for all the latest information on how to get your cheese safely across the border!
David Grotenstein, Judging & Competition Chair
Michelle Lee, ACS Director of Programs & Operations
Get Noticed with an ACS Sponsorship!
Align your brand with the best in the industry as a 2011 ACS sponsor! Our sponsors build powerful, long-lasting relationships with our members, as well as with the wider public through ACS media placements and print materials. We are extremely grateful for the support of our 2010 sponsors, and we look forward to renewing those relationships -- and building many new ones -- in 2011!
In 2011, consider sponsoring one of these key ACS events:
- 2011 Conference & Competition: This year marks ACS's first conference in Canada, and it affords exciting new opportunities for sponsors. Sponsors will reach the audiences they always count on, but they will also have the chance to explore new opportunities with a receptive and excited cheese community in Canada.
- Winter Workshops for Cheesemakers: Early this year, ACS will offer a series of online educational workshops for cheesemakers focused on important technical issues such as risk reduction, product liability, and the development of HACCP plans.
- American Cheese Week: In the fall of 2011, ACS will launch "American Cheese Week" -- a week of events and educational outreach in every region of the country, designed to increase visibility for the North American cheese community.
To learn more about these sponsorship opportunities and benefits, contact Rebecca Sherman, Marketing & Communications Manager, at 720-328-2788 ext. 301 or [email protected].
Ask Dr. Cheese: Cheese Without Culture
Neville McNaughton, industry consultant and president of CheezSorce in St. Louis, MO, explains the risks and benefits of making cheese without starter culture. The interviewer is San Francisco Chronicle cheese columnist Janet Fletcher.
Q: On a recent trip to Spain, I visited a Torta del Casar producer who made cheese without starter culture. An Ibores producer told me that some of his colleagues also do not use a culture. They're not inoculating with whey, either. What's up with that?
A: It's the ultimate in terroir. What are the native flora? What's already there, working for you?
Q: What does it take to make it work?
A: It's about having a good make procedure that supports the goal. An uncooked cheese made in warm weather -- feta, for instance -- would be one I might try. The low terminal pH along with high salt creates an unfavorable environment for pathogens. A cheese with a higher cook, like an Ossau-Iraty style, is another good one because you've got the residual heat to take care of the undesirable wild flora. Some of the alpine cheeses use no culture and have been very successful over the years. An uncooked cheese would be difficult in winter. The milk gets cold and doesn't acidify properly.
Some French and Italian cheesemakers use wooden vats that they scrub but don't sanitize, so the favorable flora survive for the next make.
Q: Do you have to use raw milk?
A: Absolutely. And milk that hasn't been stored long. Ideally, you would start right after milking.
Q: What environment do you need?
There's no one answer. If you're cooking the curd, that could offset a cold environment. But remember, just about every single cheese was made without culture at one point. Historically, cheeses were defined by their natural flora and the process applied to the milk. What we do today is a refinement. But I have no illusions: the losses (without culture) are significant.
A true story: My family used to supply milk to a dairy coop in New Zealand. At the beginning of each year, they had no active culture. So the manager would go to a local farm, get a bucket of milk and let it sour. He would then take a small portion and inoculate a can of milk that he had heated to 185˚F for one hour and cooled to 72˚F. If it coagulated, he was happy and they would make their first cheese. That's how they did it until the mid 1960s, when they switched to commercial cultures. It changed their lives: no more dead vats. Every cheesemaker knows about the vat that does not acidify. Before they used commercial cultures with rotations, it happened regularly
Q: What are the risks of the no-culture approach?
A: When you fail to get acid development, you're not taking care of the beneficial bacteria. So you have issues of general spoilage and safety. Most pathogens don't do well where there's competition. So I would do everything in my power to favor the bacteria I wanted.
|Connect to ACS
Stay connected to ACS no matter where you are! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (#cheesesociety), LinkedIn, or our member networking site, CheeseWire. Get the latest updates from the cheese community, connect with fellow cheesemakers, retailers and enthusiasts, and tell us what's happening in your world.