Despite relatively little external fanfare, on 16 January 2012 a significant milestone for artisanal cheese, makers, mongers and supporters from Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States occurred. The official inauguration of the New World Chapter of the International Guilde de Fromagers showcasing new world cheese was welcomed in San Francisco.
The Guilde International des Fromagers, a Global non profit organization, was established in 1969 by noted French affineur Pierre Androuet with a view to promoting and connecting the work of cheese professionals around the world while also helping to maintain standards of cheese knowledge.
With American artisanal cheese’s meteoric rise in recent years, it is no surprise that several members of the cheese industry from North America have been inducted into the Guilde International. The first American inducted into the International Guilde by Pierre Androuet in 1973 was John Ciano followed by Steve Jenkins, and Ed Edelman in the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s; followed by other American cheese pioneers and champions. These first Americans in the Guilde International had to be inducted into other Chapters in France, Germany, and Italy since North America and Australia did not yet have a Chapter of its own. As America’s artisan cheese industry was exploding and gaining both depth and breadth; the exponential growth merited the founding of the New World Chapter of the Guilde International des Fromagers being formed in January 2012.
Now that has changed and, largely thanks to the efforts of Cathy Strange of Whole Foods Market, David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery , Will Studd of Will Studd Enterprises and Jennifer Bridges of Davis, Hearn, Bridges and Anderson that the New World was formed and has its own Chapter alongside the world’s finest cheese producing nations such as France, Italy, Spain and the UK. It is a proud moment in cheese history.
What We Do
Cheese has a rich history of being central to governmental affairs. Banks in Italy accept Parmigiano Reggiano as collateral for loans and for decades Switzerland had literal cheese cartels. So if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “You know, the Cheese Illuminati seems like it could be a thing,” well, you wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. It’s not some secret society conspiring to pull the levers of government or influence world events so as to establish a cheesy equivalent of a New World Order. Members do, however, dress in long cloaks and elaborate headwraps and wear heavy medallions with pyramidal shapes on them and generally all this regalia is strikingly similar to that of Professor Quirrell, so you’d be forgiven for assuming something surreptitious was afoot. This not-so-secret society is called La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, and this is the New World Chapter.
In a nutshell (or, more appropriate, a cheese rind) the Guilde Des Fromagers is a group of the most tenured, influential, well-connected, and essential individuals in the world of cheese. The Guilde’s roster essentially doubles as a who’s who of the artisanal cheese industry.
The movers and shakers of high-quality cheese gather from the world over and wear robes (designed by Coco Chanel) together—but what exactly does the Guilde do? The official mission is “to transmit knowledge through cheese companionship.” If you care deeply about cheese (and of course you do, you spend your time reading about cheese and it’s makers) you would want the world’s cheesiest individuals—dairy farmers, affineurs, mongers extraordinaire, fromagers to have a way of being in touch with one another, sharing their wisdom and methods. The Guilde exists to facilitate that very thing.
This all started back in 1969, when a man named Pierre Androuet decided the world of cheese could benefit from such a network for cheese enthusiasts. Androuet was a French Affineur (cheese ripener), a cheese monger with cheese shops in Paris bearing his name, and a famed author of multiple books on cheese aiming to share his knowledge, passion, and love of cheese. Today the Guilde International des Fromagers is run by Roland Barthelemy since 1992, whose official title is “Provost”. Barthelemy began his cheese career close (in both time and place) to where the Guilde was founded. In the 1970s, he had a small Parisian cheese shop and affinage space.
But Provost isn’t the only rank in the Guilde. There’s Protectors, Ambassadors, Masters, Judges, and on and on. Expect nothing less from a society so finely tailored. And next time you notice that the quality and assortment of cheeses available near you has improved, or that imposter cheeses are no longer as prevalent beside their AOC and PDO counterparts, or that you’re seeing more cheese programs at your favorite restaurants, think of these Protectors and Ambassadors and Masters. They may not be covertly directing the global order, but they are making life cheesier, and that’s something we can all be happy about.
In 1969, Pierre Androuet, founding provost of the Guilde des Fromagers International, did some research in the writings of the canonization, during the XVI century, of a shepherd from Cavargna valley, near Lugano, the Swiss-Italian border, at 1669 m altitude in the 600.
He found that this shepherd, named Lucio, but also Uguzo and as we refer to as Uguzon discovered thermal caseation, which allowed him to make more cheese than neighboring shepherds and give it generously to those in need. It is said, that he lost his life when his master noticed and took his life. This is where water source was later discovered which is believed to have healing virtues most notably for eye complaints.
It was thus that the worship of San Lucio – Uguzon was born and celebrated on the 12th of July. However, the biggest solemnity takes place on the 16th August, the feast of St Roch. It is a popular Italian/Swiss celebration and feast under the tender loving eyes of San Lucio. This area became a free zone in honor of the patron of cheese makers (caseari in Italian).
To get to the oratory of San Lucio, starting from Lugano, you can go through Dino. It is the shortest path walking but requires a couple of kilometers by the mountain trails as do all pilgrims.
St. Uguzon is known as the patron saint of cheese makers and is known for his generosity of helping those less fortunate and for sharing his love and passion for cheese with others. It is this spirit of generosity and for the passing down of passion and knowledge regarding cheese and cheese making that the Guilde International des Fromagers stays true today and aims to spread our love of cheese worldwide.
CNIEL, the French Dairy Board (the umbrella organization for the French dairy industry), was created in 1973 by milk producers and processors. In France, Europe and internationally, the CNIEL meets two key objectives: to facilitate relations between dairy producers and processors; in particular by developing shared tools and standards for the entire industry. And to promote a positive image of milk and dairy products among consumers to help boost sales, anticipate crises in the sector and respond with arguments backed by indisputable scientific expertise.
Cheeses of Europe
The Cheeses of Europe marketing campaign is a three-year, co-funded European program help raise consumer awareness of the merits of the Union’s agricultural products and production methods and to increase the awareness and recognition of Union quality schemes. Moreover, they increase the competitiveness and consumption of Union agricultural products, raise their profile both inside and outside the Union and increase the market share of those products, with a special focus on those markets in third countries that have the highest growth potential.
French Cheese Board
The French Cheese Board in New York’s Soho, is a destination featuring exclusive programming that blends art, design and food in innovative forms that appeal to both the connoisseurs and the curious in search of the mystique and passion that surrounds French cheese. The French Cheese Board is an ambassador of the French cheese experience and also serves as a platform for conversations and debates. It is an interactive space for media events, consumer classes and much more!
Whole Foods Market was founded in Austin, Texas, when four local businesspeople decided the natural foods industry was ready for a supermarket format. The founders were John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy, owners of Safer Way Natural Foods, and Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, owners of Clarksville Natural Grocery. The original Whole Foods Market opened in 1980 with a staff of only 19 people. It was an immediate success. At the time, there were less than half a dozen natural food supermarkets in the United States. Whole Foods has grown by leaps and bounds since that first store opened.
Saputo produces, markets, and distributes a wide array of dairy products of the utmost quality, including cheese, fluid milk, extended shelf-life milk and cream products, cultured products and dairy ingredients. Saputo is one of the top ten dairy processors in the world, the largest cheese manufacturer and the leading fluid milk and cream processor in Canada, the top dairy processor in Australia and the second largest in Argentina. In the USA, Saputo ranks among the top three cheese producers and is one of the largest producers of extended shelf-life and cultured dairy products. Our products are sold in several countries under well-known brand names such as Saputo, Alexis de Portneuf, Armstrong, COON, Cracker Barrel*, Dairyland, DairyStar, Devondale, Friendship Dairies, Frigo Cheese Heads, La Paulina, Milk2Go/Lait’s Go, Montchevre, Murray Goulburn Ingredients, Neilson, Nutrilait, Scotsburn*, Stella, Sungold, Treasure Cave and Woolwich Dairy.
The Guilde International des Fromagers - New World Chapter views diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a cheese and dairy culture where everyone belongs and thrives and the knowledge of cheese is shared openly.
The cheese community is made of makers, mongers, retailers, distributors, buyers , educators, writers, researchers, educators, regulators and cheese lovers who draw from a dynamic range of backgrounds to contribute to the pursuit of our common goals. The work, passion and well-being of the cheese industry, the Guilde International des Fromagers - New World Chapter, regional Guilds, the American Cheese Society and Specialty Food Industry are strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, age, ability, political views, veteran status, and more. We actively seek and welcome people of color, women, persons with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQIA, and those who are at the intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods to be nominated and inducted. Together, we strive to create an environment that values diversity, promotes an inclusive culture, and establishes a profound sense of belonging for each member of our cheese community, the Guilde International des Fromagers - New World Chapter.