Cathy Strange - Global Cheese Buyer, 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.
Dominique Delugeau - Senior VP Speciality Cheese, Saputo Cheese USA.
Dominique has been a prominent member of the specialty cheese industry for nearly thirty years. He currently leads the specialty cheese, deli, and marketing divisions of the international speciality food producer and distributor Saputo. He is a former president of both the American Cheese Society and the Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute and is the current president of the Cheese Importers Association of America. Dominique is an ambassador of the prestigious Guilde des Fromagers and he has served as a competition judge for World Championship Cheese Contest, the US Championship Cheese Contest, and the Caseus Montanus.
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.
Ari Weinzweig - Co-Founder, Zingermans
Ari Weinzweig started Zingerman's Delicatessen over thirty years ago and it has since become an Ann Arbor institution and a source of great food and great experiences for over 500,000 visitors a year. In addition, Ari has founded a host of other businesses including Zingerman's Bakehouse, Zingerman's Mail Order, and Zingerman's Training. He has served as a board member and president of the American Cheese Society and as a board member of the Retail Division of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. He has recieved a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine and has been recognized as one of the "Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America" by the James Beard Foundation. He is the author of several books
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.
Rachel Dutton - PhD, UC San Diego, Division of Biological Sciences.
Dr. Dutton earned her PhD in Microbiology from Harvard Medical School in 2010 and received a Bauer Fellowship to start her own lab at the Center for Systems Biology, Harvard University. She is now an Assistant Professor at the Division of Biological Sciences.
Dr. Dutton uses cheese as a way to understand microbial ecosystems and notes "Cheese is home to a fascinating assortment of microbes; from bacteria, yeasts and molds, to microscopic mites. These microbes all play an important role in making cheese a delicious and diverse food, and could shed light on the complex microbial communities that impact human health." Her lab studies cheeses from around the world, and looks at how cheese microbes interact with each other to form communities. In addition, her lab collaborates with chefs (David Chang and Dan Felder, Momofuku) and cheesemakers (Jasper Hill Farm and the Cellars at Jasper Hill, VT) to develop fermented foods using native microbes. Her research has been featured in Wired Magazine, Lucky Peach Magazine, the Boston Globe, Edible Boston, the New York Times and on NPR and The Mind of a Chef TV series.
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’ career in cheese began at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers where he worked the counter and sold from a stand at the weekend Galway Farmer’s Market (Ireland.) Since 2009, he has served as one of 14 supreme judges at the World Cheese Awards, and in 2011 was inducted as a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers. In 2016, he was recognized as a Compagnion of the Confrérie du Gruyère.
At New York University's Food Studies department he taught a graduate level class on food regulation and law. In addition, he has conducted extensive doctoral research on the principals and regulations of cheese at the New School for Social Research.
As an entrepreneur, Carlos co-founded Lactography, the first artisan cheese distribution company in Mexico, and, in 2014, opened QuesoStore, in Mexico City. Carlos’ book on Mexican cheese traditions, Quesos Mexicanos was published in 2013 by Larousse, and was awarded second place for best cheese book at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2014. Carlos is a frequent speaker on food in a variety of venues, including The Basque Culinary Center, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Mesamerica, as well as the New York Public Library.
Carlos 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. 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 March 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 hosted by chef Rick Bayless.
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.
Daniel McElligott - Consultant
Daniel’s cheese career began in 2013 at Whole Foods Market in Melrose, Massachusetts. There he worked behind the cheese counter, offering weekly themed tastings of selected cheeses and engaging customers through cheesy suggestions and conversations.
Daniel is also an undergraduate student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Majoring in history, Daniel found a link between his interests in cheese and 19th Century American history among Northeastern’s Consortium on Food Systems Sustainability, Health, and Equity. This common ground between his passion for cheese and love of history has allowed Daniel to pursue a cooperative education opportunity working as an intern at Oldways in the Cheese Coalition. Daniel can also be found working as a cheesemonger behind the Salumi e Formaggi counter at Eataly Boston.