You may have noticed that many of the Cheese Professionals participating in the 2015 Virtual Q&A are fine folks I first met via the internet and particularly on Facebook. Dan Strongin is another of those friends… and yet I feel like I have known him for years…
Dan is offering a free webinar this Saturday, November 14th: Chef Dan’s Cheese Tasting Rockstar – 2pm Eastern and 11am Pacific.
Briefly tell me about yourself? How did you come to cheese and when did you realize you were a cheese geek?
I have close to 40 years experience as a Chef, cooking teacher, writer, and business consultant. I was president of the American Cheese Society during a difficult time. With the help of Bill McKenna, Radha Stern, Dominique Delugeau and Ricki Carrol, some of the folks over at the WMMB, and others, we got things back on track, changing the bylaws to ensure a majority of Cheese Makers on the board.
In the mid 1990s, I had the honor of working behind the scenes helping nurture the resurgence of artisan and farmhouse cheesemaking, starting what I believe is the first American Artisan Cheese section in Northern California, then working directly with family farmers, chefs, retailers, distributors and the public to encourage farmers to make artisan and farmhouse cheese and distributors and stores to sell it. I went on to work with the Dairy Business Innovation Center for a few years, while continuing my work with private clients.
I got into cheese when I switched from being a Chef in a hotel, to one of the pioneers of restaurant style kitchens in Supermarkets. In 1991, I believe, the ACS came to San Francisco and I attended. Like most Chefs I thought I already knew about cheese. I was wrong. I know a bit more now, but there is always so much to learn. Ari was the president, and I met Cindy Callahan, Mary, Judy, Alison, George Haenlein and many others, some of whom remain friends until today.
After my stint as President and Chairman was over, I organized an international conference on Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese in the mountains of Europe, which many members of the Society attended. We had a grand time.
Outside of cheese I am an expert on Organizational Development and Product Quality Administration, am certified by the American Society for Quality, an expert in operating small and medium value added businesses founded on the principles of Statistical Process Control, Continuous Improvement and Lean. Now that’s a mouthful, but all true.
Where do you work and what is your job title? Describe a “typical” work day.
Currently I mix writing online courses, just publishing my new course on Cheese, “CHEESE: How to buy, store, taste, pair, walkabout and serve” which will be available on my online academy at learn.managenaturally.com, along with my other courses on mastering work and business. I also help small and medium businesses make vibrant, successful businesses people love to work with and in, and do copywriting. I write a monthly column on Quality and Marketing for the Cheese Reporter.
Since I live in Rio, my typical day is get up, have coffee and a papaya, go to the pool for water-gymnastics with an unobstructed view of Corcovado, then get on my computer to write, skype, make and edit video courses.
Do you have a favorite cheese or type? What would be your perfect pairing with this cheese?
Well made cheese! The perfect pairing with any well made cheese is Champagne!
Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?
I have a whole section on this in my online course CHEESE: How to Buy, Store, Taste, Pair, Serve and Enjoy. I had to research and write the position paper for the CMAB at the time. Both can and do make wonderful cheeses, but raw milk does offer more potential flavors. Pasture fed even more, and lots of good CLA’s. What really makes great cheese is the skill of the cheesemaker. I talk about that as well in the course, and why.
Should the US create a system similar the European scheme of protecting, controlling and/or regulating specific cheeses?
No, because that is not our way, and because of the radical changes we have inflicted on our landscapes, we really don’t have small traditional agricultural areas to defend. I think we should be the pioneers, not the stodgy old protectors of bygone days. I do support the protection of cheeses like Feta, and Roquefort. They have hundreds of years of tradition, and these days, marketing can get us to forget ourselves, especially with the easy access to misinformation on the internet. (:
Tell me about one of your “cheese journeys”. Was it traveling for pleasure or maybe “on the hunt” for an obscure cheese you just had to taste?
I have had so many, but my two favorites were when I went to Paris and bought cheese direct from the cheesemakers in the street fairs, and when in Greece for the Conference, we got to see the shepherds tending their flocks, and making Feta the traditional way, in stomachs, as well as eat incredible food in Metsovo, meet the giant dogs that really do the work, and spend time with their cheesemakers, living in the flow of a traditional community.
Please share with me one fun, non-cheesy fact about you.
I invented the modern version of the Olive Bar while at Andronico’s, but it was Divina who made the money at it! In my first few years as a cook at Ferdinands in Cambridge, MA, I made over 10,000 omelets.
If you could do one thing, anything, all day long, what would it be?
Exactly what I am doing now. I love my life.
Also check out his full bio here.
As always, I thank Daniel for taking the time to participate in my 2015 Virtual Q&A with Cheese Professionals.
Interviews will continue throughout 2015… sometimes, they will be “stand-alone” and sometimes they will be presented as round-table discussions with several Cheese Professionals answering the same question. Those participating include Cheesemakers, ACS CCPs™,Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.
List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.
List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.
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