Blessed Are The Cheesemakers!

Blessed Are The Cheesemakers! Like fine wine, cheese can tantalize every aspect of the palate. Today’s diners can find cheese served alone as a cheese course or incorporated into diverse dishes ranging from appetizers to desserts. Whether served as an opening to a five-course meal, sprinkled as a topping on pasta or pizza, or used as the foundation for a rich and creamy sauce, cheese can make any dish delightful. U.S. cheesemakers pride themselves on variety stemming from unique artisanship and creativity that can only be found from the diverse USA heritage. Boasting over 1,000 cheese varieties, the United States is not only the world's largest cheese producer, but also one of the most diverse. This makes the United States a unique and exciting supplier of delicious cheeses.

It is perhaps this reason why the USA Cheese Guild boosted a strong presence at the Food and Hotel Asia (FHA) last week and shined a spotlight on USA cheese, thanks to the support of the USA Cheese Guild. The Guild hosted eight member companies within their USA Cheese pavilion during the 4-day tradeshow and showcased just how varied cheese can be from the different regions of the country. The U.S. dairy suppliers exhibiting within the USA Cheese Guild pavilion included Agropur, the Associated Milk Producers Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes. Inc., MCT Dairies, Schreiber Foods, Schuman Cheese and Talmera USA Inc.

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions of the cheese industry in the USA is that it all hails from the Midwest, primarily from the state of Wisconsin. However, it is clear from the companies showcased in the USA Cheese pavilion at this exhibition that cheesemaking occurs in the hot, dry, open spaces of the West to the seasonally temperate, nutrient-rich fields of the Northeast to the hot, humid holdings of the Southeast. This means that much of the knowledge when it comes to creating the best cheese in the United States is vast and can probably fill up libraries. Companies like Talmera and Agropur represent family-owned farms, which make up the majority of U.S. dairy farms. Businesses such as these keep the traditions alive, as well as use the knowledge to innovate into the future so that the great quality of cheese does not get compromised but improves the quality and work for the source of the milk. Bigger companies that help to represent these dairy farms and the people who run it include the Dairy Farmers of America and the Associated Milk Producers Inc, both national milk marketing cooperatives in the United States that help members' sell milk and milk by-products wholesale in overseas markets.

It’s fascinating just seeing how much the USA contributes to the global cheese production, and just how organisations like the USA Cheese Guild help to educate local trade and consumers about USA Cheeses. This could be seen at the FHA booths, where live culinary demonstrations showcasing USA Cheeses were held daily. USA Cheese Specialist Certification Program Instructor, Chef Muhammad Imran held court at the demo counter, showcasing how simple it was to use USA Cheeses such as U.S. Pepper Jack and U.S. sharp cheddar in a simple dip that went well with breadsticks and carrots. “Both flavours work well together,” Chef Imran explains to us. “You get the spice, you get the milkiness and you get the creaminess. It’s simply that good and easy to mix, which is something that can be done with different USA Cheeses.”

A wider spread of cheese from the different regions of the USA were on display during a reception held at Swissotel Singapore’s SKAI’s Suites on the 6th of September. This included American Originals like U.S. Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack and cream cheese, but also fascinating creations like blueberry-infused cheddar, which offers a sweet, tangy note from the blue and purple fruit on the harder cheese while also flaunting a beautifully marbled surface. Hailing from Wisconsin, the cheese can be added for an extra flair with your grilled-cheese sandwich or an omelette. Attendees of the reception, which included chefs, restauranteurs, cheese distributors and other illustrious members of the community flocked about to try these cheeses, while others laughed and clinked wine glasses with other guests, helping to feed the conversation that evening. 

“In the past, when people get asked about USA Cheese, they would, of course, talk about cheddar,” explains Chef John Esser, who was present as a Chef Consultant for the USA Cheese Guild.  “We’re trying to open people’s eyes and say, ‘we’re making a far bigger number of different cheeses than cheddar, and we’re trying to showcase that.’ ”