Meet Adam Burstein ACS CCP™
Adam and I met via email soon after I passed the ACS CCP™ exam in 2013. He wanted to take the exam and we began corresponding about it and all things cheese. Adam is, without a doubt, one of the most passionate cheese nerds I have had the pleasure to know. Following the 2014 ACS Conference, where we finally met, we became “fast friends”. I can’t say enough kind things about Adam; he’s one-of-a-kind and I adore him as a friend and admire him as a person.
Adam kindly agreed to participate in my Cheese Professionals Q&A and I thank him for taking the time.
Briefly tell me about yourself. How did you come to cheese? When did you realize you were a cheese geek?
I was someone who did not really know what I wanted to do. I fell in love with food so I went to culinary school. After my externship** (see below) at Walt Disney world I went to work at a specialty grocery store. There is where I fell in love with cheese and everything related to it. Every time I would taste a new cheese, cracker, jam, chocolate, ect… I became more and more hooked. That is how I became a cheese head.
Why did you want to become a CCP? How has it changed your cheese life or career path?
I wanted to become a CCP, because I always want to learn more and grow. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn, but also to challenge myself. It really helped me understand cheese better and become even more of a “curdaholic”.
Where do you work and what is your job title? Describe a “typical” work day.
I work at Frys food stores part of the Kroger family. Day in and day out I sell and educate the public on cheese. I also try and throw in a nice bar of bacon chocolate or spicy jam.
Do you have a favorite cheese or type? What would be your perfect pairing with this cheese?
A perfect cheese is really such a hard question. I love so many, it would be impossible for me to just pick one. I mean if you have a wheel of Epoisses and a wheel of Carr Valley Melange, why do I have to choose between the two? As far as pairing goes I always love a nice crusty piece of bread, great honey, and some good charcuterie.
Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?
I think raw is the way to go. Heating the milk kills most of that great flavor the cheesemaker worked hard to create. You loose the flavor of the grass the cow ate, the water he drank, and all the history and rich culture of the land.
Should the US create a system similar to the European scheme of protecting, controlling and/or regulating specific cheeses?
I believe it is too little too late to regulate cheese names. It may be a good idea, but too late to implement it.
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?
My first cheese journey has to be visiting a cheese maker in Utah. Every time I would go visit my parents I would cherish getting some of their amazing sheep milks cheese. Seeing such a small operation really put things into perspective.
Please share with me one fun, non-cheesy fact about you.
I know you said share one non cheese fact about me, but I am cheating and sharing two. I am crazy obsessed with anything Disney and hope to be a Cicerone one day. (Adam is currently studying for the Cicerone Certification Exam.)
If you could do one thing, anything, all day long, what would it be?
I would love to live in a house made of cheese and be waited on by wheels of Brie and loaves of cheddar. One can dream right? In all seriousness though I would to teach and educate people on cheese and specialty food. Show them there is a whole world of deliciousness out there waiting to be found. It is just one chunk away.
** An externship is the same as an internship, it is just what they call it at culinary school. I applied for the Disney college program. They came and interviewed a bunch of people from my culinary school and I was one of the lucky people selected. There were four different apartment complexes housing around 7,500 kids in the program. Anything from culinary, to retail, to taking passes at the front gate, and everything in between. There were a lot of kids from other countries in the program also. I worked at a busy New England style clam bake buffer feeding around 600 to 750 people a night in just four hours. Never made so many mashed potatoes in my life. Getting into the park was a nice bonus, but I learned so much there. Customer service, or as they would call it “guest service” was the most important thing I learned. It was never a no, it is was a let me see if i can make that happen. We did not always have a fairy godmother or an extra jar of pixie dust in the back to make those miracles happen, but most of the time we did. It was just a rewarding experience getting to make people’s stay a little more magical. After all that is what it is all about.
Check out Adam’s Bio Here.
Interviews will continue through 2016… 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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