Whole Foods Cuts the Cheese, Professionally

Whole Foods American Society of Cheese Professionals exam
Test takers at the 2013 American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional exam

Whole Foods Market takes their cheese seriously. That’s why 77 Whole Foods employees recently took the American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional exam. And yes, it is real.

The exam tests cheesmonsgers’ mastery of all things cheese, including cheese making, ripening, storage, handling, nutrition and more. Those who pass the exam are part of an elite few who have mastered all aspects of cheese, from farm to counter. Whole Foods Market now has 147 Certified Cheese Professionals, the largest number of certified cheese experts in the world.

“Whole Foods Market cheesemongers are as passionate as they are talented when it comes to cheese, and we have worked hard to train them to earn this highest honor with classes, group study, and even field trips to dairies,” said Cathy Strange, global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market. “Our Team Members love sharing their deep knowledge with our shoppers, so helping them become certified is really a win-win-win for the cheesemonger, Whole Foods Market and our customers.”

Whole Foods Market cheesemongers who passed this year’s exam represent 2 countries, 21 states and 67 stores.

“I’m so thankful to Whole Foods Market for its commitment to education and to artisan cheese producers and for the opportunity to turn my passion into a career,” said Janelle Libertone, cheesemonger at Whole Foods Market Sebastopol. “I’m proud to work for a company that lends so much support to develop its Team Members and I’m proud to be a Certified Cheese Professional.”

The exam was held July 31, in conjunction with the 30th Annual American Cheese Society conference in Madison, Wis. Certification is valid for three years and is renewable for additional three-year periods through a formal recertification process.

To commemorate this accomplishment, Whole Foods Market teamed up with several cheesemakers to have its 2012 Certified Cheese Professionals make special cheeses, which will be available in its stores nationwide starting this fall.

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