Local cheesemonger takes the podium at international competition

Small Bites is a weekly food news column in C-VILLE Weekly.

Original article here.

Local cheesemonger Nadjeeb Chouaf became the first American to reach the podium at the international Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager competition held in Tours Cedex, France. Photo by Ryan Jones
Local cheesemonger Nadjeeb Chouaf became the first American to reach the podium at the international Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager competition held in Tours Cedex, France. Photo by Ryan Jones.

Last week, local cheesemonger Nadjeeb Chouaf, owner of Flora Artisanal Cheese and a consultant for Timbercreek Market’s cheese counter, brought his work to the world stage and won big, taking third place in the third edition of the international Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager competition, held June 11 through 13 in Tours Cedex, France.

In doing so, Chouaf became the first American to reach the podium in the competition. “It was a huge step in placing the American cheese industry on the national stage,” he told us in an email.

The competition is held every two years and contenders must be accepted by a committee in order to enter. This year’s 10 cheesemongers were from the United States, the Netherlands, Japan, Belgium and France. The American and Japanese competitors must win their respective national championship to enter, and Chouaf won the American Cheesemonger Invitational last summer.

The Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager includes four rounds of skill and knowledge presentations followed by artisanal challenges, such as creating various sculptures from cheese provided by the competition, composing a “perfect bite” with Fourme d’Ambert, preparing a Brie Fermier restaurant-style cold cheese dish and arranging a large display on “the alchemy of a cheesemonger” on a 1-meter by 1-meter (approximately 3 feet by 3 feet) board.

Chouaf says he felt most prepared for the cheese presentation and prepared dishes, but he scored lower than he expected. However, he rallied with his large display.

“The large display and sculpture, which I felt completely unprepared for, seemed to be the most impressive to the judges,” says Chouaf, who will continue working on bringing Virginia cheese to the international stage.

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