Cathy Strange - Global Executive Coordinator - Specialty and Product Innovation and Development, Whole Foods Market
As the Global Cheese Buyer for Whole Foods Market, Cathy has become an authority at detecting international food trends during her travels around the world while seeking out vendor partners that meet Whole Foods Market's strict Quality Standards. After selecting new partners, Cathy works diligently with small producers to help them sustain a profitable business. Cathy is a former president of the American Cheese Society, and a member of the Cheese Importers Association, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Slow Food USA, and Les Dames d'Escoffier where she serves as the President of the Austin chapter. Cathy and Whole Foods were founding members of the original Cheese of Choice Coalition and she has been recognized widely for her support of traditional, artisan, and raw-milk cheese receiving such prestigious awards as the Coltello d'Oro and Ordre du Mérite Agricole.
Ruth Flore - Cheese Marketer, Past President American Cheese Society
Ruth has played a significant role in developing the specialty cheese industry in America for over two decades. Since her early marketing efforts for Vermont Butter and Cheese Company/Vermont Creamery she has been a consultant for the industry bringing specialty/small production cheesemakers’ products to market on both a regional and national level. She currently manages the marketing and business development efforts for Norseland, Inc. and has played a vital role in the continued success of Norseland's partner brands in the US market. Ruth has been a leading member of the American Cheese Society since its early days serving as president, conference co-chair, and on the board of directors. Ruth co-founded the Cheese of Choice Coalition in 1999 to protect production and sale of raw-milk cheese in the US. She regularly consults Will Studd in the research, development, and production of the Cheese Slices series. She is a member of the prestigious Guilde Internationale des Fromagers. When not laboring on behalf of good cheese, Ruth enjoys photography, cooking, and travel—not necessarily in that order.
Will Studd - Cheese Retailer; Author; Host of "Cheese Slices"
Will has worked with artisan cheese since establishing specialist food stores in central London in the 1970s. Migrating to Melbourne, Australia in the 1980s, Will has done much to promote a greater understanding of good cheese in the land down under and has played a significant role in amending Australia’s strict dairy and cheese regulations. Will has published two popular books Chalk and Cheese, was published in 1999 and his follow-up title, Cheese Slices, was published in 2007. Will has been the executive producer and presenter of the Cheese Slices video series since 2002. He holds the prestigious title of Officier of the Ordre National du Merite Agricole for his work in the defense of raw-milk cheese.
David Lockwood - Managing Director and Partner, Neal's Yard Dairy
David began his career in cheese as a manager at famed Zingerman’s Delicatessen. In 1991 he moved across the pond to London to learn about cheese maturation from the experts at Neal’s Yard Dairy. Neal's Yard Dairy has been the key player in the revitalization of traditional farmhouse cheeses throughout Britain and beyond. Over the course of the last two decades, David has worked in nearly every aspect of the business: maturing, purchasing, sales, and in the office. Today, he continues eating a lot of cheese as the managing director and a partner at Neal’s Yard Dairy. He holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Georgetown University.
Sue Conley - Co-Founder, Cowgirl Creamery
Sue started Cowgirl Creamery with her good friend Peggy Smith over two decades ago. What began as Tomales Bay Foods, a marketing vehicle to help West Marin County's farms and dairies get their products to the Bay Area's finest chefs, is now a veritable cheese mecca. Cowgirl Creamery now has four retail stores, two creameries and has won dozens of awards. Prior to founding the creamery, Sue cooked with the likes of Bambi McDonald and Paul Bertoli before opening up her own restaurant Bette's Oceanview Diner. Her co-authored book Cowgirl Creamery Cooks was published in 2013. She sits on the board of directors at Marin Agricultural Land Trust and when not inspiring better eating in the Bay Area and beyond, Sue is an avid hiker.
Academic Advisory Committee
Catherine Donnelly - PhD, University of Vermont; Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences
Dr. Donnelly, an expert on the microbiological safety of food, believes that requiring cheesemakers to use pasteurized milk is not the best way to produce safe (and tasty) cheeses; it is better to educate cheesemakers about how to ensure the safety of their raw-milk products. Catherine was formerly the co-director of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese which provided educational opportunities and scientific/commercial advice to small-scale cheesemakers. Prof. Donnelly is a recognized international expert on the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and has published numerous articles and delivered hundreds of presentations on the topic.
Heather Paxson - PhD, Massachussetts Institute of Technology; Department of Anthropology
Dr. Paxson is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Anthropology and Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, where she serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Program in History, Anthropology & Science, Technology, and Society. She has researched the production of artisanal cheese in the United States for a decade, with particular interest in understanding how craftwork has become a new source of cultural and economic value within American landscapes of production and consumption. In addition, her work culturally contextualizes regulatory concerns over safety, "quallity" and percieved risk. She is the author of The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (University of California Press, 2013) as well as numerous peer-reviewed articles on diverse topics related to anthropology and artisanal cheese. She is currently working on the Editorial Board of the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese.
Dennis D'Amico - PhD, University of Connecticut; Department of Animal Science
Dr. D’Amico’s research focuses on the safety and quality of cheese. For more than a decade he has worked extensively with small to very-small producers on product development, process control, environmental monitoring, and the development and implementation of food safety management systems. Dennis's current research projects seek to identify natural interventions and preventative controls for traditional dairy foods and the validation of traditional processes. Dennis is board member of the American Cheese Society and the International Association of Food Protection. His research has been widely published in peer-reviewed academic journals and in 2013 Dennis recieved an award from the Innovation Center for US Dairy in recognition for Outstanding Leadership, Collaboration, and Education for his work on the US Dairy Food Safety Initiative.
Carlos Yescas - Program Director
Carlos Yescas joined Oldways in 2015 as the Program Director of the Cheese Coalition, which supports the production and appreciation of artisan cheese, and protects traditional cheesemaking practices around the world.
Carlos’ career in cheese began at Sheridans Cheesemongers, where he worked the counter and sold from a stand at the weekend Galway Farmers Market in Ireland. Since 2009, he has served as one of 16 supreme judges at the World Cheese Awards; in 2011, he was inducted as a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers and in 2016 as a member of the Confrérie du Gruyère.
As a food scholar, Yescas taught a graduate-level class on food regulation and law in New York University’s Food Studies department. In addition, he has conducted extensive doctoral research on the principles and regulations of cheese. He holds a Master of Law from the National University of Ireland, a Master of Philosophy in politics from the New School for Social Research in New York, and a Bachelor’s degree in business from Endicott College in Massachusetts.
As an entrepreneur, Carlos co-founded Lactography, the ﬁrst artisan cheese distribution company in Mexico, and, in 2014, opened QuesoStore in Mexico City. He combined his love for Mexican cheese and research to publish the book Quesos Mexicanos in 2013 by Larousse, and was awarded second place for best cheese book at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2014. He previously worked in diplomacy and international relations in posts at the Consulate of Mexico in Boston, the United Nations Development Programme, and at the International Organization for Migration in New York. In 2015, Carlos was named as one of the “50 hottest places, people and trends in food” by the Guardian UK Observer Food Monthly magazine, and his work is the subject of an episode of A Taste of Mexico (10th season) that airs on PBS and is hosted by chef Rick Bayless.
Carlos is a frequent speaker on food and topics of social justice and migrant rights in a variety of venues, including The Basque Culinary Center, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Mesamerica, Roots Conference, as well as the New York Public Library. He has traveled the western world documenting cheese traditions and stories and is currently researching raw-milk use in cheesemaking around the world.
Sara Baer-Sinnott - Oldways, President
Sara has been an instrumental figure at Oldways since its early days, joining the staff in 1992 to work on one of the first overseas Symposiums (Food, Culture and Discovery in Spain) and the first Mediterranean Diet Conference. Sara assumed the presidency of Oldways in May 2010, on the untimely death of founder K. Dun Gifford. She now develops company strategy, oversees all Oldways projects and programs, and works closely with all members of the Oldways staff.
In her years at Oldways, Sara has been an integral part of Oldways’ growth and success. She has helped develop ground-breaking programs including its Traditional Diet Pyramids; the Whole Grains Council; Healthy Pasta Meals; High Five Children's Cooking Curriculum; and many others. Her current priorities include the growth of the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, as well as overseas Symposiums and Culinarias about traditional foods and culture. Sara is also co-author of the The Oldways Table with Oldways’ Founder Dun Gifford.