American Cheese Society
This week I want to talk about the American Cheese Society (ACS). Let’s start with a little history because history rocks: Frank Kosikowski, a prominent food science professor at Cornell, founded ACS in 1983. He wanted to support those with an appreciation for cheese, as well as cheesemakers who were dedicated to “natural cheese…and maintaining quality and traditional values of cheese.” This is paraphrased from Dr. Kosikowski’s original proposal, which he presented to his grad students, some of whom became his first members and participants. The beginning was difficult because they not only had to figure out their mission, but the structure of ACS, who would present, how to get them there, how to fund it, basically all the nitty gritty (aka boring stuff) that is essential in creating any organization. It still took years for ACS to really take off and become the large and influential organization it is today.
Today, thousands of people attend their annual conference where experts present on everything from 'What is Cheddar' to 'The Best Way to Create a Budget in Food Retail.' And this is why I want to go! I love school, as I’ve said many times before, and this is basically cheese school with lectures, discussions and tastings, oh my! I’m getting excited just writing about this! There is also a competition portion of the conference where judges taste more than 1700 entries of American-made cheese and pick the best products in each category (categories like Camembert, Gouda, Mature Cheddar, Rindless Blue-veined, and many more). The first year of competition was in 1985 and there were less than 100 entries, so ACS has certainly come a long way.
ACS is now a central place for education for different facets of the cheese industry, as well as a place for the cheese passionate to gather and connect with each other. Their mission is to provide “the cheese industry with educational resources and networking opportunities, while encouraging the highest standards of cheesemaking focused on safety and sustainability.” While Dr. Kosikowski is no longer with us, major elements of his original purpose for ACS still ring true. It serves the crucial function of providing a place for people across the cheese business to learn from each other and grow together.
So there you have it, friends, at least broadly – what the American Cheese Society does and why it’s a helpful thing to have around. I hope I get to go to Richmond next summer to join all the fun!
For the love of cheese and places to learn,