What is a Cheesemonger?
If you put it simply, a cheesemonger is a person who interacts and buys cheese directly from dairy farmers then sells it to the consumers. They are also the ones who take care of the cheese and protect it storage atmosphere and quality. Other than that, they also determine if the cheese is too ripe to sell or if its quality has been conceded by other issues.
A cheesemonger can also act in a similar role to a wine sommelier or a beer cicerone – as an expert. They know how to pick the right cheese for the occasion and meal and what to pair it with.
In this article, we are going to find out the roles of a cheesemonger and everything you need to know about being a cheesemonger.
The Role of a Cheesemonger
As mentioned, a cheesemonger is just like a wine sommelier. A lot of us know how and when to approach a local wine seller and ask questions about wines such as where to store the Chardonnays or the Bordeaux. And maybe even learn some of the basic types of wines so you can order it by classification. Well, buying cheese is the same, a cheesemonger should be well-versed when it comes to the different types of cheese and their characteristics. They should be able to show you the different types of cheese by example. So, it’s a cheesemonger’s job to satisfy the customer’s needs. For example, if they ask what’s good, they might be asking what is the freshest cheese that is available on that certain time and it might also signal that they aren’t that knowledgeable about cheese. That’s why a cheesemonger should interact well with their customers by asking what kinds of cheese they already know or like and what characteristics are they looking for in a cheese. That way, a cheesemonger can help the customer determine and show the best kinds of cheeses they like.
Another role of a cheesemonger is to wisely buy cheese based on its quality and current condition. In other cases, a cheesemonger might buy cheeses when they are still young such as washed-rind and soft-ripening cheeses. That is why selecting cheese is one of the crucial decisions a cheesemonger makes. Because cheeses should be properly wrapped and placed under proper temperatures so they can mature correctly and they could be sold at peak condition, other cheesemongers are also affineurs which means they are also the person who controls the aging and ripening of the cheeses.
Aside from selling local and domestic cheeses, a good cheesemonger should also have an international collection as well. Having different varieties of cheeses should be important and an accomplished cheesemonger should have cheeses from all families.
A cheesemonger should also suggest a nice pairing of cheeses for the customer by asking them what will they be serving the cheese with or what beverages will they be serving it with. Asking these sort of questions will help the cheesemonger determine what cheese is right for the occasion.
Lastly, aside from selling and storing cheeses, a cheesemonger should also be a teacher. Considering that there are about 12,000 cheeses and counting available in the world today, a cheesemonger should be able to understand that a customer doesn’t have time to know most of the cheeses that are available. That’s why to help avoid intimidation and to not waste time, a cheesemonger should be able to offer good samples of cheese and see what the customer wants in terms of taste preferences.
If you want to become a cheesemonger, the most important skill you need to have is determining the different kinds of cheese. For example.
- Cow’s milk cheese (Mozzarella, Swiss, Brie, and Parmesan) – Most of the cheeses that are produced from cow’s milk are generally less expensive than other cheeses and the creaminess in their flavor are what sets them apart from goat and sheep cheeses. And because of the presence of carotene in cow’s milk, the cheese produced from them have a more yellowish color.
- Sheep’s milk cheese (Manchego, Ricotta, and Feta) – Cheese that is being produced from sheep’s milk has a smoother and slightly oily texture and they are mostly semi-soft cheeses that have a bit of saltiness and has a mild flavor. Sheep’s milk cheese is very nutritious because they contain more calcium and vitamins B and E compared to other cheeses but they have the highest fat content.
- Goat’s milk cheese – Also called Chevre, or the French word for goat, a goat’s milk cheese has a strong aroma and tangy flavor. It usually has a bright white color and its texture can range from soft to hard. Goat’s milk cheese also have stronger acidic flavor compared to other cheese because goats eat different leaves and grasses than other animals.
Being a cheesemonger can be a tough job but on the other side, it can also be a dream job for cheese enthusiasts.