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Culpeper Times • August 2-8, 2018
It's not easy being cheesy By Jeff Say
Culpeper Times Staff Writer Jeffery Mitchell was the big cheese in Pittsburgh last week. The head sales lead for the American Cheese Festival’s annual cheese sale, Mitchell oversaw the preparation of 10,000 pounds of gouda, cheddar, provolone and more - all to be sold off to hungry cheese enthusiasts at the festival’s culmination on July 28. Mitchell presided over an average of 16 volunteers as they worked all day Wednesday and Thursday, getting the cheese ready for the annual cheese sale. The cheese, brought in by cheesemakers from all over the country, was judged and then is broken down into pound or two pound chunks to be sold to support the American Cheese Education Foundation. All 10,000 pounds sold. Standing in a tractor trailer cooler filled to the brim with cheese, Mitchell had a “cheesy” grin on his face as he pointed to rare and delectable selections.
“Think of this as you would a library,” Mitchell said. “You’re going to take a book out, in this case it’s cheese, the cheese is coded and the numbers have to match. It’s almost like surgery, all the parts that come in have to have their stickers and match on their way out.” Assisted by cheesemongers, retailers, distributors and simply cheese enthusiasts, Mitchell jumped from station to station, checking out what his workers were doing - chipping in where needed and helping direct traffic along the way. Mitchell and the volunteers broke down 40 pound blocks of cheese, cutting them into different sizes for usable portions. “It’s a process to get through, we’re grateful team yesterday set us up so well,” Mitchell said. Mitchell logged eight hours on Tuesday, 14 on Wednesday and started work on at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday before finishing up around 3:30 p.m. As he walked out of the basement of the David A. Lawrence Convention center, he
PHOTO BY JEFF SAY
Retailers and distributors "meet the cheesemaker" at the American Cheese Society's convention July 29 in Pittsburgh, Pa. breathed a sigh of relief. The cheese was packed and ready for sale. This was his second year serving as cheese sales lead for the ACS, having coordinated it last year in Denver, Colo. What did he learn from that experience?
“Anticipate,” Mitchell said. “Anticipate things going awry and ask questions earlier. If you don’t see something, ask for it. People are very willing to help.” ➤ See Cheese, Page 4
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