TRAVERSE CITY — Jess Piskor knows cheese so good that he can brand a start only by smell, cut a crowd to an accurate weight, and image a cocktail pairing with any variety.
He’ll be put to a examination Jan. 19-21 during a prestigious Cheesemongers Invitational in San Francisco. The biannual eventuality pits adult to 50 of a world’s best cheesemongers opposite any other in what is mostly called “the Olympics of cheese.”
“It’s a large deal,” pronounced Piskor, conduct cheesemonger during Lucky’s Market in Traverse City and a initial to paint a Lucky’s sequence during a invitational. “I feel unequivocally privileged.”
The eventuality is partial jubilee — a $60 piece gets spectators all a raclette, fondue and grilled cheese they can eat — partial foe and partial conference. Organizers contend a goal is to “inspire cheesemongers.”
“Selling cheese is a contention that spans centuries,” a rather tongue-in-cheek website says. “Great cheese does not exist though good cheesemongers. They are caring takers, law tellers and therapists for a cheese. They are knights, priests and politicians for a cheese.”
Besides competing in a accumulation of events for prizes and bragging rights, cheesemongers accommodate and learn from some of a cheese world’s tip cheesemakers, aﬃneurs, importers and distributors.
“The thought is not only for me to contest and hopefully place though to pierce a believe behind and share it company-wide,” pronounced Piskor, one of 30 competitors from places like The Cheese School of San Francisco, Cheesemongers of Santa Fe, and Eataly of New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles.
Following a preparation apportionment of a event, a cheesemongers are put by a array of hurdles including a created examination of cheese-related believe and technical ability demonstrations like slicing and wrapping, and blind aroma and ambience tests. Food use rounds embody plating a cocktail pairing with an reserved cheese, building a cheese image with that same cheese, and scheming piece trays of their many talented “perfect bite” regulating another reserved cheese.
“Definitely there’s some scholarship to cheese, though there’s also an art,” pronounced Piskor, 36, who will span Gruyere with juniper leaves and a plant for his cocktail pairing and Parmigiano-Reggiano with radicchio and sour sugar for his “perfect bite.” “We all have a lot of honour in a work.”
The Suttons Bay local is assured of his skills though pronounced operative in an unknown kitchen with opposite knives underneath a inspection of judges could infer nerve-wracking. Then there’s a randomness of a challenges.
“If you’re slicing some Swiss cheese with holes in it we could be off,” he said. “The some-more we work with cheese, a some-more we learn it’s a small things. Even opposite brands of (plastic wrap) have opposite characteristics.”
Piskor began his cheese career during Zingerman’s epicurean food business organisation in Ann Arbor shortly after his 2004 graduation from a University of Michigan. Later he worked during cheese shops in London and New York.
After relocating behind to northern Michigan in 2009, he started Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport. But a aroma of cheese was irresistible. When Boulder, Colorado-based Lucky’s Market came to Traverse City in 2017, Piskor returned to his initial love.
Besides streamer adult a Traverse City cheese department, he helps business choose, store, cut and span cheeses during special in-store cheese events. He also helps a flourishing association settle cheese departments in new stores opposite a country.
“I adore cheese,” he said. “There’s so most farrago and impression with cheese so it’s fun to eat. Cheese also has a lot of fun stories behind it … And we get to cut cheese all day, hang it, build these good displays that are attractive, so it’s mentally engaging.”
Andy Harvell oversees a cheese difficulty for Lucky’s Market and is a two-time witness during a Cheese Invitational. He pronounced promulgation Piskor to contest in a eventuality is a tactical pierce for a company’s growth.
“The foe is a ‘Who’s Who’ in a cheese universe and, utterly frankly, we consider he’s a Who’s Who’ in cheese,” Harvell said. “Lucky’s is immature and new. We don’t have a lot of skin in a cheese diversion and we’re perplexing to get that. To get a bearing for Jess and Lucky’s will be great.”