It is necessary to receive training in food in general and cheese in particular in order to become a cheesemonger. This training can be approached in a variety of ways, and once qualified, individuals can work in a variety of settings. Anyone interested in becoming a cheesemonger must first have a passion for and interest in cheese, cheesemaking, and the various ways in which cheeses can be used.
Cheesemongers are people who work in the food industry and sell cheese. Some own and operate their own businesses, specializing in the sale of cheese and related items such as fruit, crackers, breads, and wines. Others may work at a larger grocery store’s cheese counter. Customers have come to expect this service, especially from high-end stores, so specialty stores usually hire a separate cheesemonger to manage the cheese counter. When it comes to cheese handling, the cheesemonger can help people choose cheeses, answer questions about cheese history, consult on flavors, and provide food safety advice.
Attending a culinary school, particularly one that offers training in working with cheeses and in working in environments such as grocery stores, is one way to prepare for a career as a cheesemonger. Aspiring cheesemongers can also work as apprentices in cheese factories, learning about the manufacturing, packaging, and handling of the product. This will come in handy later because cheesemongers don’t just sell cheese; they also offer advice on it. They also place cheese orders, oversee food safety, and collaborate with a variety of suppliers, ranging from small local dairies to international distributors.
Apprenticeship with a working cheesemonger is another option. This can provide hands-on experience at a cheese counter or in a cheese store for someone who wants to become a cheesemonger. Initially, the trainee is responsible for basic tasks such as working with customers and cutting cheeses, but as time goes on, she or he is given more responsibilities. While at work, the cheesemonger is encouraged to read about cheese, ask questions, and travel to see how cheese is made and sample cheese from different regions.
Once someone has completed the training to become a cheesemonger, they can work as a fromager, or cheese steward. These restaurant professionals work for high-end establishments that place a premium on cheese. The fromager places orders for cheese, works with suppliers, tastes new cheeses, educates restaurant staff about cheeses, and may even assist guests in selecting cheeses. Cheese stewards can also come up with new menu items like cheese plates.