Sue Sturman: Director, Academie Opus Caseus
I came to cheese via catering and teaching cooking. I have a degree in Public Relations, and through working in that moved into corporate special events production then conference center sales. From there I moved into catering, starting in the front of the house in sales and event management and staff training, and moved ‘backwards’ into the kitchen. Then I took another reverse step and went to Paris for cooking school at the Ecole Ritz-Escoffier at the Paris Ritz. I worked as a sous-chef in a small Parisian restaurant and did some culinary tour guiding, and was then hired by the Ritz to serve as Assistant Director of the school. One of my responsibilities was to teach the classes on French cheese (in French and in English!). After two+ years at the Ritz I started my own catering business in Paris, which I ran for about two years. Moved back to the states and launched a business teaching custom-designed cooking classes to small groups of people in their own kitchens.
When we moved back to NY after 6 years in Paris, I joined Slow Food, which was just getting known in the US. I went to a tasting event and encountered American artisanal cheeses for the first time…..this was in about 2000, and I’d been away from the US food scene since about 1992, so the whole cheese movement in the US came as a revelation. I asked the person next to me in line where I could find out more about these cheeses, and they told me I should check out the American Cheese Society. Of course, I chuckled like most people! But I signed up for the conference in San Francisco and flew off, thinking I’d be hobnobbing with the good folk from Kraft (more likely now than then, as Kraft is actually winning awards but that’s another story). My mind was completely blown, by the variety and quality of the 300 or so cheeses on display. The attendees were incredibly open and welcoming, totally approachable, and I was a convert from being a total French cheese snob to being an apostle for American cheeses.
As my teaching business grew, I had the opportunity to teach cheese classes as well, and teamed up with Master of Wine Sheri Sauter. We taught for corporate clients such as Citibank-Smith-Barney and Merrill Lynch, and had a series at Sur la Table, as well as at restaurants and for private clients. We also had a series at New York grocer Agata & Valentina, and later I went on to teach for a couple of years at Murray’s.
I continued to be involved with the ACS, and in about 2002 attended the first session where a certification program was suggested, hosted by Kathy Guidi and Laurie Greenburg. I offered to write the brainstorming notes on the flip chart, and that eventually parlayed into managing the project, and bringing the exam to fruition some 8 years later. Somewhere in there I also worked to support the New York State Farmstead & Artisanal Cheesemakers’ Guild as Marketing & Development director; this was one of the very earliest Guilds established. It continues to flourish.
My thanks to everyone participating in my 2015 Virtual Q&A with Cheese Professionals. I hope all of you, my loyal readers, are enjoying this as much as I am…
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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Taking the 2015 ACS CCP™ Exam? Please see my page on Tips for Studying for the Exam.