Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Taste of France: La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers

The International Cheese Guild (La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers) held a Cheeses of France reception at the Long View Gallery recently. The reception included an ceremony to induct new members to the Guild.
Going it alone, I decided to start talking to the first friendly face. Coincidentally, that person was Pamela Nalewajek, from Canada, who happened to be one of the people being inducted into the Guild that evening.
Pamela filled me in on what it takes to be inducted into the Guild. She started by telling me that once inducted, she will will become an ambassador. To start the process, a current ambassador must approach you and invite you into the association. From there, there is a little paperwork to fill out (your background and involvement with cheese) so other ambassadors can find out what you will add to the Guild. How is your knowledge valuable to them? Once everything is filled out, you must be approved by the other ambassadors and then there is the induction ceremony.
Once I finished speaking with Pamela, she asked if I wanted to talk to the Provost of the Guild. How could I say no? He didn’t have much time before he had to begin preparing for the induct
ion ceremony but Provost Roland Barthelemy was kind enough to tell me a little of their history.

The Guild is over 40 years old. Its goal is to get everyone involved in cheeses together and to transfer intelligence and knowledge of cheese. The Guild creates a network of intellectuals who become compagnons in the trade. Compagnons (companions) are individuals who are in the same association or industry and share and receive knowledge from one another. Provost Barthelemy made it very clear that the transfer of knowledge is a very important part of the Guild, something I believe is important in any trade or industry that wants to continue to flourish.

As for the cheeses? They were all from France (makes sense, considering it was a Cheeses of France reception). They had everything from the obvious Camembert (three varieties!) and Brie to Le Roule’ cranberry (a soft cheese covered in chopped cranberries, kind of like a cheese ball but in log form). A total of 38 different cheeses!

By: Cara Eshleman

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