How To Become A Master Cheesemaker

Transitioning from an ordinary cheese enthusiast to a full-time certified cheesemaker is a journey of dedication and passion. For those who aspire to reach the pinnacle of their turophilic craft — that's an actual term for someone who can't get enough cheese — the title of Master Cheesemaker is the ultimate feat. Becoming a Master Cheesemaker is more than embarking on a career path with tasty benefits. Aspiring pro fromagers must immerse themselves in the science and artistry of cheese. It's a profound commitment to the intricacies of cheese production that requires meticulous knowledge of every stage of the cheesemaking process, from milk composition to aging and preservation methods.

The road to mastery begins with formal education. Wisconsin shines as a beacon of cheesy excellence, with over 1,200 licensed cheesemakers producing more than 600 cheese varieties, according to the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. Many prospective Master Cheesemakers take courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Center for Dairy Research to study an array of topics, including food safety, milk pasteurization, and quality control. Procuring the superlative status demands countless hours of practical experience. Apprenticeships under seasoned cheesemakers offer invaluable opportunities to gain hands-on expertise by conducting casein-centric experiments, refining techniques, developing a discerning palate, and understanding the nuances of different styles of cheese.

Enroll in the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program

When it comes to cheese, perseverance is key — especially when it comes to achieving the perfect taste, texture, color, and aroma of the consumer-ready delights. Master Cheesemakers-to-be embrace each batch as an opportunity to learn and grow. At the core of this accolade is the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program, a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Dairy Research and the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. The esteemed trajectory sets the global benchmark for excellence in cheesemaking, providing advanced training to those who have proven themselves as exceptional artisans.

To be considered, program enrollees must have at least 10 years of cheesemaking experience on their résumé, with another five years dedicated to making the type of cheese they aim to specialize in — whether a ubiquitous genre like cheddar or Parmesan or an underrated cheese like quark or cambozola. Following the comprehensive curriculum, participants undergo a three-year apprenticeship, during which they submit their cheeses for evaluation. Finally, they must pass a written exam to join the acclaimed community of Master Cheesemakers.

Wisconsin is the only state in the U.S. where one can earn the title of Master Cheesemaker. With a rich heritage rooted in Swiss tradition, Wisconsin's billion-dollar dairy industry rivals the cheese-producing regions of Europe. America's Dairyland is a place that generates exceptional cheese and fosters a culture of innovation. Master Cheesemakers proudly represent the delicious trade while ensuring the legacy of future cheese-loving generations.