Six young cheesemongers one step closer to Norway
The Young Cheesemonger of the Year Finals, sponsored by Snowdonia Cheese Company, will take place at the World Cheese Awards, in Trondheim, Norway on Friday 27th October. The award aims to promote cheese knowledge, recognise young talent and provide career development within the industry.
This year’s applications bought in some really strong entrants from all around the globe, reflecting the quality of young cheesemongers coming up through the ranks and promising a great future for the industry as a whole.
World Cheese Awards
Applicants under the age of 30 had initially been asked to provide a short biography, along with recommendations for their perfect cheeseboard. The six entrants with the most impressive, yet considered, selections have been shortlisted to attend the finals, where they will compete against their peers across four rounds.
This year’s panel of judges for the finals in Norway, all experts from across the industry, include Andy Swinscoe from The Courtyard Dairy, Hero Hirsh from Paxton & Whitfield, Keith Kendrick from BBC Good Food and Galina Danard from Partout Fromage.
The winner of the award will be announced on the same day and will receive the coveted title of Young Cheesemonger 2023, a trophy, a feature in Fine Food Digest and Academy of Cheese Level Two certification course. They will also be invited to judge at the World Cheese Awards 2024.
Meet your 2023 Young Cheesemonger of the Year Finalists
ÁLVARO OCAÑA FERNÁNDEZ
LOCATION: Madrid, Spain
EMPLOYER: Saddle Restaurant
CHEESE STUDIES: Cheesemaster
course at the Madrid Camara de Comercio
After finishing high school studies in Seville, Spain, Álvaro embarked on a two-year Restaurant Management course, followed by another two-year course in viticulture in Ronda, Malaga. Whilst on this course, he started to work in Bardal, a two Michelin Star restaurant. It was here that he had his first contact with cheese. Bardal had a cheese trolley filled with 20 Spanish cheeses and the sommelier taught Álvaro everything about wine and cheese.
Afterwards, Álvaro spent a few years training to be a professional waiter in some nationally-prestigious gastronomic restaurants, as well as obtaining his WSET Level 2 Diploma.
He started work at the popular Saddle restaurant in Madrid in October 2022, where the cheese trolley, which offers 35 cheeses daily and in the region of 350 per year, is a highlight. As “Frommelier”, Álvaro is in charge of the conservation of the cheeses and their optimal point, since we have three conservation chambers exclusively for the cheese, with regulated temperatures and moisture. He is also responsible for
purchasing cheeses from different national and international suppliers and is very
demanding about always having the cheese in the best possible conditions.
Álvaro’s knowledge of cheese was bolstered after taking the Cheesemaster course – one of the best cheese courses in Spain – at the Madrid Camara de Comercio from March to July 2023.
LOCATION: Philadelphia, USA
EMPLOYER: Perrystead Dairy, Philadelphia
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Received full scholarship to attend the 2023 ACS Conference in Des Moine
Jake Heller is a young enthusiast who has dedicated his life to the art of cheesemaking, cheese mongering, and cheese eating. His goal has always been to inspire others with his passion for quality cheese; promote healthy diets and create a deeper appreciation for a food that is closely tied to cultural heritage and place.
At the young age of 15, Jake found his calling as a cheesemonger, working at the Narberth Cheese Company- a small family operated shop in Jake’s hometown that sold gourmet foods including a decent selection of European cheeses.
At the age of 20 Jake moved to Center City Philadelphia to attend Temple university and begin his second job working as a manager at Downtown Cheese in the Reading Terminal Market. At Downtown Cheese Jake found himself surrounded by peers who taught him important lessons of customer service, cheese history/ science, and small business management.
On his journey Jake has met with cheese makers, visited local dairy farms, hosted cheese themed classes, attended the Fancy Food Show numerous times, received full scholarship to attend the 2023 ACS conference in Des Moine, and has made many friends in the blooming cheese community of Philadelphia.
Now at the age of 27 Jake finds himself in a new stage of his adventure as Lead Cheesemaker working at Perrystead Dairy in Old Kensington, Philadelphia. This exciting new cheesemaking experience has directed Jake’s studies to focus on traditional methods of cheese production as well as the science and chemistry of milk, cheese making, aging and eating.
LOCATION: London, UK
EMPLOYER: The Cheeseboard, Greenwich, London
Lucy first discovered her passion for cheese when she lived in the alps and was spoilt with copious amounts of Beaufort d’été (a firm favourite). She moved to Belgium a year later to teach French in an international school. Whilst there, she would take weekly trips to the market and to the local fromagerie, picking up a selection of unique cheeses and inviting friends over for cheese parties and share everything she’d learnt about the cheese in true teacher fashion.
In Summer 2022 she immersed herself in the rich traditions of goat’s cheese whilst working on a small farm in Mirabel-et-blaçons and deepening her connection to the world of cheese.
Lucy now continues to express her passion for cheese at the Cheeseboard in Greenwich, London and she leads monthly cheese tasting events in a selection of pubs and restaurants in the South East. Lucy relishes the opportunity to connect with customers, weaving stories, fun facts and each cheese’s unique history to deepen their appreciation for cheese. Lucy also loves opening a Parmigiano Reggiano because she loves a challenge and the satisfaction when it finally cracks open to reveal the incredible interior.
LOCATION: Usk, South Wales
EMPLOYER: Morris’ Of Usk Garden Centre & Farm Shop
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Sharing my cheese journey on my social media, @thepetitecheese
CHEESE STUDIES: Academy of Cheese Level One. Currently studying Level Two.
Lily Morris was born and raised in Usk, South Wales. She has worked for her family’s business since she was 16, and has devoted her most recent years to opening up and managing the artisan cheese counter; in their farm shop.
Although she has only been in the industry 2 years, her knowledge brings a fun perspective on all things cheese. Her main passion is educating others and spreading the word on British artisan cheese, which can be seen through her popular social media account @thepetitecheese; where she shares her knowledge through many forms. From videos of cutting and wrapping cheeses to picture posts engaging with her followers, her page is very encouraging and helpful to the community.
Lily hopes to inspire others to delve into the wonderful, ever-changing, world of cheese. And has lots of exciting “cheesy” plans to come in the future!
LOCATION: Asker, Norway
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Promoted to Deli Manager of Meny Hagaløkkveien, after just one year.
Martin began his career at Meny Hagaløkkveien in 2014, when he was just 14 years old, as a part time worker. Gradually working his way to the top, in 2022 Martin became the assistant deli manager with responsibilities for fresh meat, but always had a passion for cheese. So earlier this year he gave the fresh meat section to a new employer, to pursue this passion. The thing Martin loves the most is to share his passion and knowledge to not only his part time workers, but also to the customers.
To help the customers getting the right cheeses for their taste or to their guests if they want to make their own cheeseboard. Help them to find new ones to buy and taste, help them to find a cheese they bought months before but forgot the name of. Help them find small artisan cheeses from around Norway and the world.
To summarise, Martin enjoys working with cheese and expanding his knowledge, but helping the customers and sharing his passion is what he loves the most about his job.
LOCATION: Strasbourg, France
EMPLOYER: Le Comptoir Maison Lorho
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Working for two “Meilleurs Ouvriers de France” in the same cheese shop: Cyrille and Christelle LORHO.
Louis-Charles began a two-year apprenticeship in 2012, working with Michel Fouchereau in the commercial department of a cheese dairy in Paris. It is here where he fell in love with cheese.
After the apprenticeship finished, Louis-Charles moved to Strasbourg, where he was employed by Mr and Mrs Lorho and continued to learn the art of cheese. He has been a saleperson at their fabulous cheese shop, Le Comptoir Maison Lorho ever since.
During this time, he has helped run many events: from traditional cheese buffets to professional fairs. A highlight this year was an event organized for the Michelin Guide where their Two and Three stars were awarded to French restaurants.
This experience has enabled Louis-Charles to hone his sales skills to advise each customer according to their tastes and desires, based on the development and maturation of the cheeses.
Currently, he manages cheese orders to supply the shop, serve customers by offering them a varied assortment of cheeses and to make cheeseboards according to themes requested by the customers or to his own suggestion.