What is a Cheesemonger?


With the average salary of a cheesemonger in the United States at roughly $37,046 USD and between €29,476 and €35,213 Euros per year in Europe, it is a career that one can not only enjoy, but have a decent living. A cheesemonger is a specialist retailer who sells cheese, typically within a cheese shop or specialty food store. This role is much more than just selling cheese; it encompasses a wide range of knowledge and skills related to cheese and its production. Below, we’ll delve into the various aspects of being a cheesemonger, including the skills required, the knowledge base they must have, and the importance of this profession in the culinary world.

The Role of a Cheesemonger

At its core, the role of a cheesemonger involves sourcing, caring for, and selling cheese. However, this simplistic description belies the depth of expertise and passion for cheese that characterizes successful practitioners in this field. A cheesemonger is expected to have a deep understanding of the types of cheese they sell, including their flavor profiles, textures, and the processes by which they are made. This role also involves:

  • Sourcing and Selection: Cheesemongers often work directly with cheese producers to select the best products for their stores. This can involve visiting cheese producers, attending cheese fairs, and tasting a wide variety of cheeses to make informed decisions about what to stock.
  • Cheese Care: Once the cheese is in the store, proper care and handling are critical to maintain its quality. This includes proper storage, cutting, and wrapping of cheese to preserve its flavor and extend its shelf life.
  • Customer Service: Cheesemongers provide advice to customers on cheese selection, offering recommendations based on customer preferences, and suggesting pairings with wines, beers, or other foods. They must be able to communicate their knowledge effectively to help customers make informed choices.
  • Education: Many cheesemongers take it upon themselves to educate their customers about cheese. This can involve hosting cheese tastings, workshops, or even informal discussions about the characteristics of different cheeses.
Skills and Knowledge Required

Becoming a cheesemonger requires a blend of practical skills and theoretical knowledge, including:

  • Sensory Evaluation: The ability to taste and evaluate cheese is fundamental. Cheesemongers must discern subtle flavors, aromas, and textures to assess quality and to provide accurate descriptions to customers.
  • Food Safety: Understanding and implementing food safety practices are essential, particularly regarding how cheese is stored and handled to prevent spoilage and ensure it is safe to eat.
  • Knowledge of Cheese Production: A deep understanding of how cheese is made, including the differences between various types of milk (cow, goat, sheep), the significance of terroir, and the impact of different production techniques on the final product.
  • Culinary Knowledge: Familiarity with how cheese can be used in cooking and what pairings work well is crucial. This includes an understanding of how flavors complement each other and how cheese behaves when cooked.
The Importance of Cheesemongers

Cheesemongers play a vital role in the culinary world by acting as the bridge between cheese producers and consumers. They help to preserve traditional cheese-making practices and promote artisanal and specialty cheeses that might otherwise be overlooked in favor of mass-produced options. By educating consumers, they foster a greater appreciation for quality cheese and contribute to a more vibrant food culture.

Their work supports small producers and sustainable agriculture by bringing attention to cheeses made with care for the environment and animal welfare. This not only benefits the producers but also offers consumers the chance to experience unique cheeses they might not find elsewhere.

Becoming a Cheesemonger

For those interested in becoming a cheesemonger, the path involves a combination of formal education and hands-on experience. While there are courses and certifications available in cheese education (such as those offered by the American Cheese Society in the United States), much of the knowledge comes from working with cheese directly. Many cheesemongers start in retail positions within cheese shops or specialty food stores, learning the trade from more experienced colleagues.


The role of a cheesemonger is rich and multifaceted, blending culinary arts, science, and customer service. It’s a profession that requires passion, dedication, and a continuous desire to learn. Cheesemongers not only sell cheese but also champion the traditions, innovations, and people behind the cheese. Their work enriches our culinary experiences and deepens our understanding and appreciation of this ancient and beloved food.

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