Coordinating the shipment of containers full of cheese from France, introducing new cheeses from Australia to the U.S. market, and forecasting future cheese trends—it’s all in a day’s work for Stephanie Ciano. As the vice president of international purchasing for Armonk, NY-based World’s Best Cheese, one of the United States’ leading cheese distributors, Ciano is responsible for bringing quality and cutting-edge cheeses into the United States. It’s quite possible that you can thank her for the selection at your local cheese shop.
Carlos Yescas has been a diplomat, professor and united nations expert. He still juggles a number of jobs, including raw milk cheese advocate, cheese judge and researcher. Born in Mexico, Yescas, 40, also distributes Mexican cheeses and is currently setting up a Latin American cheesemaker network to connect producers there with “scientists, gastronomers, chefs, researchers and historians,” from around the world. He hopes to keep traditional cheesemaking going and growing in Latin America and around the globe, which he explains is in danger of disappearing. Oh, and he also throws clay in his spare time.
Margaret Cicogna is one of the United States’ leading authorities on Italian cheese. “People call me the Cheese Lady,” she told Cheese Connoisseur over coffee in New York City. “But I do a lot more than cheese. I went to school. I have a family.” Still, Cicogna’s deep knowledge and passion for cheese, and close relationships with the producers she’s worked with over many decades, have more than earned her the title.
David Gremmels is at home in many arenas, a renaissance man with wide-ranging interests and expertise: from 1950s Beat Art to long distance cycling, from fine woodworking to vintage trucks and German Shorthair Pointers.
While the Netherlands is renowned for its 17th century old master paintings, IJmuiden-born Betty Koster is famous these days for refining another local art form with 12th century antecedents. In the realm of Dutch masterpieces, cheeses from Koster’s Fromagerie L’Amuse — including her signature two-year warm-cellar-aged Gouda L’Amuse and Brabander, an uncommon goat Gouda — are celebrated as among the very finest cheeses in Holland and beyond. Only a few are imported into the U.S.