Where Guilds Gather

Four years ago, 5 Ohio artisan cheesemakers and I sat together in the lobby of the Mohican State Lodge here in Ohio and formed the Ohio Cheese Guild. We are have having growing pains and difficulties generating membership. We have an enthusiastic Board of Directors and energetic President and over 100 members but nothing seems to be coming together as a coherent entity. Any help and suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Our website could use some work: (ohiocheeseguild.org) We also have been trying to get an Ohio Cheese Trail initiated. Thank you for your help.

–Kent Rand
cheesemonger ACS-CCP
Weilands Market

Every year the Maine Cheese Guild schedules a “Holiday Party” as the regular Guild meeting in December. We try to schedule little or no Guild business for this meeting, it’s always on a Sunday, and it’s always scheduled to start at noon, two hours later than most of our meetings.

We ask our members to bring a pot luck dish so that the meeting will offer a proper meal, but more importantly we ask members to bring their Holiday Cheese for sampling.

“Holiday Cheese” is not one specific cheese, but a different cheese recipe chosen by Guild members at a meeting earlier in the year, usually a style or type of cheese that is different than what most Guild cheese makers regularly produce. The idea is to encourage all Guild members to try something different that will stretch our skills and maybe even lead to a new product in our inventory. Past Holiday Cheeses have been Cottage Cheese, Romano/Grana-style, Havarti, Cheese Curds, Tomme, and Ricotta.

Earlier this month Arlene at Imagine Dairy Farm sent a recipe to all Guild members for Caerphilly that she got from Margaret Morris’s excellent book The Cheese Makers Manual, and we were instructed to make at least one wheel to bring to the party during the first week of September.

The idea is that we all use the exact same recipe at the same time with the milk that we normally use for our cheeses. That way we can specifically explore the variability in cheeses that come from different herds as well as animals, and we can also discover the effect of the “hand of the cheese maker” on the finished product through the make and the aging. We’ve always found it an excellent learning tool, as well as a tasty way to celebrate then end of another cheese year with our professional peers.

At times we’ve also invited a few of our retail partners to attend for the same educational experience, as well as to interact with cheese makers they may not be familiar with. This has always been a very positive experience for everyone.

So stay tuned, and I’ll try to remember to post a report here on how our Caerphilly tasting turned out this December.

Looking For New Guilds!

September 11th, 2017 | Posted by GuildGuy in Guild Building | Guild Info | Networking - (0 Comments)

If you know of a new cheese maker’s guild that has been formed and would like to connect with this larger group of guilds, please notify us at info@cheeseguilds.net

In Maine we have a Guild web site that offers a lot of information about the Guild, both for Guild members, non-members who might like to join, as well as for consumers who are curious about cheese making in Maine and perhaps where they can find some.

For consumers we offer an on-line map of all Guild members who are commercially licensed to sell cheese — this is a benefit of Guild membership, as well as a feature for consumers. Through that map they can see the closest cheese makers to their home, as well as to click through to any cheese makers own web site with more specific information including what cheese they sell and where they sell it.

The idea of a direct and easy way to get consumers to access information doesn’t line up with sub-menus and interior pages of our web site. At the same time we didn’t want the front page of our web site to be dominated with a Guild cheesemakers map. What we came up with instead is to purchase the internet domain “EatMaineCheese.com” and then to redirect all of those look-ups straight to the Guild cheesemakers map on our web site. Once they’ve used the map they may decide to explore the rest of the Guild web site, or not. And, with an easy to remember URL to give to people, we can print bumper stickers and other small give-away promotional material.

Cheese Guilds are not a new idea in the US, and there are many that have been active for years, if not decades. Some are more active than others, and there are still some regions of the US and Canada where cheese makers would like to form a Guild but have not yet been able to.

Meanwhile, for the past few years, representatives of active and forming Cheese Guilds have been meeting once a year for a breakfast at the American Cheese Society conference to discuss their work and figure out a meaningful and productive way for these Guilds to interact with each other, as well as with the “national Cheese Guild” aka the ACS.

Recently the idea of active collaboration between Guilds has been put forward, and this site represents one possible tool for that collaboration. This site seeks to be a way for any cheese maker to discover and explore the Guild efforts in their region, as well as elsewhere. At the same time Guild members can describe the work they do, their goals and timelines, and put forward ideas that could be picked up by other Guilds and/or the ACS that will increase the ability of all of us to produce more and better cheese.

All of this information will be generated by the people and Guilds themselves, and connections made through this web site are free to be developed elsewhere. The intention is not to ask for more work from the Guilds or ACS, but to collect, organize, and build on the information that already exists in these disparate areas. Hopefully this will inspire new information, new ideas, and ultimately new efforts in the cheese world. Thank you for visiting.