Over the past 20 years, the American public’s appetite for cheese has evolved to an unprecedented level of connoisseurship. Cheese programs have emerged at many fine dining establishments, regional specialties such as cheese curds, pimento cheese and specialty cheddars have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and the state of artisanal cheesemaking has begun to rival the traditions long cultivated by our European counterparts.
That said, our hunger for new and emerging styles of cheese has not always been partnered with a widespread education on the history, methods and nutritional science underlying the process of cheesemaking. This is why we’re thrilled to introduce a new, immersive six-session “Mastering Cheese” course with Maître Fromager Max McCalman to our menu of professional development opportunities.
With a diverse academic background in foreign languages, organic chemistry and European history, Max is uniquely qualified to approach the subject of cheese from a wide range of perspectives. Throughout his early career in the restaurant industry, the self-taught connoisseur read and researched voraciously, until a unique opportunity at the Upper West Side's Picholine restaurant placed him at the head of one of the city’s most innovative cheese programs.
Since then, Max’s career has thrived as a scholar, consultant, author and educator. With four books under his belt, an ongoing column in Cheese Connoisseur and a forthcoming cheese and wine pairing app, Max is among our generation’s most influential voices in the field. He earned a James Beard Award in 2002 and received a 2011 award for the “World's Best Book on Cheese” at the annual Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris.
In turn, Max has established a path for the recognition and certification of his fellow cheese connoisseurs. In 2012, he was instrumental in ushering in the long-desired American Cheese Society (ACS) Certified Cheese Professional exam. Since then, more than 400 professionals have established their expertise and transformed that skill into an incredible range of entrepreneurial opportunities.
Drawing from the ACS’s “Body of Knowledge,” Max’s new, six-session Mastering Cheese course at ICE is the ultimate immersion into the world of cheese, offering instruction in its making, classification, merchandising, nutrition and tasting. For the ambitious enthusiast, current food professional or aspiring career changer, it is an incredible opportunity to train your palate and explore the traditions, myths and allure of one of the world’s most beloved foodstuffs.
Mastering Cheese: An Extensive Course
$575 • 6 sessions
• Session 1: The Basics of Cheese. The various cheese styles (e.g. washed rind, bloomy rind, tomme) and milk types (e.g., goat, sheep, cow); the influences of terroir, animal breeds, and seasons; and how cheeses are classified and categorized. The class will include a brief history of cheese, and introduce cheese nomenclature.
• Session 2: The Basics of Cheesemaking. Composition of dairy milks and the function of those components; how cultures and rennet fit into the process; and an introduction to cheese ripening (affinage). Students will learn how to make an initial analysis and evaluation of a cheese.
• Session 3: Cheese Retailing. Students will learn how to properly cut, package, store, and display cheese, and what can go wrong when those steps are done incorrectly; the business and economic sides of cheese in the retail and restaurant environments; what is an A.O.C., P.D.O., or A.O.P. cheese?
• Session 4: Nutrition. Is cheese good for you? This session will take an in-depth look at cheese nutrition, including how cheese compares with other foods; how milk type contributes to the nutritional content of each cheese; allergies attributed to cheese; the controversy over its fat and salt content; and the view that cheese is "the perfect food.”
• Session 5: The Raw Milk Debate. Should all cheese be pasteurized? Conversely, should all cheese be raw? Is there an answer somewhere in between? Students will hear all sides of the debate, and learn current regulations for imported and domestic cheeses. By the end of the session, students will better know how to tell if a cheese is raw or pasteurized through taste and smell.
• Session 6: Cheese Tasting and Pairings. Discussions include cooking with cheese; likely accompaniments; and entertaining with cheese. Students will receive suggested readings and resources to further enhance their mastery of cheese.
Cheese & Wine 101
$95 • 1 session
The progress of civilization follows the history of cheese and wine---yet with the myriad varieties available today, it can challenging to pair them well. In this class by Maître Fromager and James Beard Award-winning author Max McCalman, you will taste a range of cheeses and wines alongside one another. As you learn the principles of professional food and beverage pairings, you'll be able to apply each lesson during the tasting. Descriptions of the wines and cheeses will be provided, along with a rating sheet that will help you "find" your palate. As you come away with some "rules" for which types of cheeses and wines pair best, you'll be sure to pick up nuances you never noticed before!
Cheese, Wine and the Mediterranean Diet
$95 • 1 session
The "cheese" word is rarely uttered when we hear about the Mediterranean Diet---yet the world's highest per-capita cheese consumption is by people who live around and within that iconic sea! Cheese and wine have been quotidian parts of their diets for millennia, and continue to be to this day. How is it that those living near the Mediterranean typically live long and healthy lives, while eating nearly twice the amount of cheese Americans do? Take this class with Maître Fromager and James Beard Award-winning author Max McCalman to learn about the role cheeses and wines play in those healthful diets. Throughout the class, you'll taste a range of cheeses and wines that represent the delicious and eye-opening evolution of Mediterranean styles.