Califonia Bountiful

Cheese lovers unite

Cheesemongers festival hits West Coast for first time

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What happens when you take the best cheesemongers from around the country and put them in one room? You get the Annual Cheesemonger Invitational, where they are pitted against each other in a grueling battle called the Cheesemonger Invitational!

The Cheesemonger Invitational was established in 2010 in New York City and made its West Coast debut in San Francisco this year. Dubbed "the Wrestlemania of Cheese," "the biggest party in the Milky Whey" and "a competition like Iron Chef, Jeopardy, and Survivor all rolled into one," the event brought together the country's top cheesemongers and cheesemakers with their cheese-adoring public.

This year, more than 30 cheesemongers—the folks who sell cheese for a living and educate consumers about it—competed in an intense, day-long series of cheese challenges. Participants from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Colorado, Florida and even Canada were put through a series of tests. From blind cheese tastings and a grueling written exam to sales-under-pressure and the perfect cheese cutting, the event challenged the mongers' skills, knowledge and creativity.

Following the private daytime competition was an evening party attended by 800 members of the cheese-loving public. The challenge culminated with each cheesemonger creating his or her "perfect bite" of cheese. This year's winner was a delicious, eye-catching creation that paired chèvre from Redwood Hill Farm in Sonoma County with grapes, candied ginger and a breakfast cereal. Perfectly yummy!

For more information about the Cheesemonger Invitational, visit

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