American Cheese Society: Highlighting Cheese Industry Authors

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by Wisconsin Cheese

GIVEAWAY CLOSED – Congratulations to our winner Janice!

The American Cheese Society’s annual event, this year titled, In a Dairy State of Mind, is quickly approaching and cheese aficionados everywhere are anticipating exciting events like The Festival of Cheese, along with the main event, the cheese competition, to find the world’s best cheese varieties. As we eagerly await the festivities, we are highlighting some of our favorite cheese-centric authors and giving away a signed copy of Ed Janus’ Creating Dairyland!

ed janus creating dairyland wisconsin cheese american cheese society festival giveaway event artisan cheeseed janus creating dairyland wisconsin cheese american cheese society festival giveaway event artisan cheese

Ed Janus, author of Creating Dairyland.

Q: How has the cheese culture, in regards to the artisan revolution, changed since you spent your years on a dairy farm?

A: I would first like to make a point – Wisconsin Cheese, especially by the 1960’s and 70’s, was very, very well made. And artisanal cheese is not necessarily better made cheese – it may have a greater variety of flavors, it may be more interesting, but it isn’t by any means, better made. And I think that is really important. There is so much of what is made in Wisconsin that is so well made and has been market-tested 50 to 75 years; the movement towards artisanal goods hasn’t affected the fact that our cheese is already very high quality.

But it has been a revolution. Before, we only had a few kinds of beer, we only had a few kinds of bread, so in stride, we figured nature has created only few types of cheese and that was it. We sent our milk to the closest cheese factory, we assumed we’d get cheddar in return and we loved it, but that was it. Now you can find artisan and small batch options of all of those items. I used to wander through our pastures in the spring and all the different kinds of grasses and plants came up, I thought, “gee, I wonder if you can taste those plants in the cheese itself.” And in a way that has happened, so it’s been a revolution.

Q: How are Wisconsin dairy farms unique in your opinion?

A: The history, the culture of cheese in the state, the tremendous unbelievable infrastructure – the University, the companies, the breeding services – you can’t really replicate that anywhere else on the same scale as we do here. The history and culture is what makes us produce this high-quality milk, and do it all year-round. It’s a very important part of our farmers thinking. You don’t get that in other states. We do dairy. And because we do dairy, we do it really well.

Q: Where do you foresee the Wisconsin Cheese industry to be in the next ten years?

A: I can’t really make any credible predictions about the cheese industry, but I do get around dairy farms a fair amount, and you know, things have changed. Now in America, and in Wisconsin, most people don’t grow up on farms. When I give talks, I ask people how many have relationships with people on a dairy farm – grandparents or parents. Often half the people raise their hands. And I think in ten years you won’t see much of that. We are running this great risk of cutting ourselves off from understanding dairy farmers and their contributions.

kristin jackson brie cheese author wisconsin cheese artisan cheese american cheese society festival giveaway

Kristin Jackson, author of It’s Not You, It’s Brie: Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese

Find the full interview in the summer issue of Grate.Pair.Share.

Q: What is it about Wisconsin Cheese that inspires you?

A: What I adored covering in my book were the stories and the history behind cheese – everything that has gone into making or deciding to make even the tiniest wheel. Learning why so many Swiss styles are made in Wisconsin, and what leads cheesemakers to make the wheels they do. Then, the deliciousness.

Q: What is your perfect summer pairing with Wisconsin Cheese?

A: I’ve got to pick three:

  1. Rosé. A dry, fresh-tasting rosé has the perfect amount of acidity, just a splash of red fruit flavor and no tannins. All good things for cheese and wine pairing. Plus, it’s about the prettiest thing one can drink on a front porch or picnic – either in wine glasses or plastic cups.
  2. Summer vegetables. Cheese on a cheese board – awesome. Cheese on the dinner table – awesome, too. Summer’s produce adores cheese – tomatoes, green beans, peppers, corn – all these things like to be topped with either fresh cheeses like Wisconsin Queso Fresco or sprinkled with grated or shaved aged cheese like Parmesan.
  3. Summer fruit. Peaches, apricots, cherries are all super cheese friendly. Serve them fresh, dried or pickled on a cheese board.

wisconsin cheese author american cheese society artisan cheese laura werlin

Laura Werlin, cheese author, educator and consultant 

Find the full interview on the American Cheese Society’s Tumblr

Q: What cheesy dishes are you cooking these days?

A: Just as with everything, I cook seasonally, so right now I’m gearing up to make my asparagus, Swiss and dill mac & cheese. And on the grilled cheese front, I’ll be making my recipe called “Cheese and Cherries a la Lynne,” (named for cheese woman extraordinaire, Lynne Devereux), which features fresh cherries, Gruyère, basil and fromage blanc. Say cheese!

Q: What are you looking forward to for this year’s American Cheese Society conference?

A: In a way, I’m looking forward to looking back, to really taking stock of where we’ve come from as a Society and more, as a cheese making and cheese eating culture. In 1998, the phrase “American cheese” was sure to be met with a disparaging remark; now it’s met with delight and curiosity, as in “tell me more!”

But I’m also excited about looking ahead. If we’ve come this far this fast, whether it’s the number of cheesemakers now dotting the American landscape, the birth of the Certified Cheese Professional™ program, the exponential growth of cut-and-wrap cheese counters and stand-alone cheese shops, and so much more, it’s positively thrilling to contemplate what’s next.


Photo credit: Becca Dilley, Heavy Table


Photo credit: Becca Dilley, Heavy Table

Giveaway: Comment below to be entered to win an autographed copy of Ed Janus’ Creating Dairyland!

How to Enter:

Leave a comment in the section below to be entered.

  • Giveaway ends Friday, July 19th at 11:59 p.m. EST
  • One entry will be chosen at random as the winner
  • Winner will be notified by email
  • One entry per household; US only
  • Winner receives one signed copy of Creating Dairyland by Ed Janus