The Holiday season has the cheese industry bustling since it truly is our time to shine. People are entertaining more than they normally do and nothing says a party like a cheese plate! January tends to be a bit milder and a good time for shops and mongers to catch their breath. Cases get cleaned, budgets are set, and the annual convening for the first big specialty food show happens in San Francisco.
Nowadays, the Fancy Food Show is not the only reason to make the trek to SF. The Cheesemonger Invitational and the Good Food Awards all happen within the weekend leading up to Fancy Food Show and it continues to expand with the Good Food Awards hosting their own form of trade show with the Good Food Mercantile and the Marketplace. It’s a busy weekend and food people from all over the world take on the city. Brands come to attract new buyers and buyers come to find new and exciting things for their shops. It’s a whirlwind of food energy.
For me, this trip was all about networking and seeing my cheese community in hopes of finding out about possible job opportunities. I wasn’t really there to find anything new (though that did happen and I’ll write about them soon!) or to represent anyone but myself. That makes it a bit of a different experience. I tended to stay in the area where most of the American artisan cheese was and didn’t venture too deep in to the show. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a convention center full of food so I was keeping near my people. It felt good to see my friends and feel fully immersed in the cheese world.
The Cheesemonger Invitational was a whirlwind of cheesy delights and I was thrilled to be able to represent Essex St Cheese at their booth, talking about some of my favorite cheeses. I had more than a few friends competing and it was awesome to see their hard work in action. I’m always in awe of the work that the cheesemongers put in to this competition, especially since the announcements come directly during the busy holiday season.
I will say that there seemed to be a palpable energy that ran through everything this year. I heard on more than one occasion that last year was a rough year for makers and retailers alike but it seemed like the show was busier than expected and that buyers were actively looking for new things. This could be my skewed version of things but it felt positive that things were looking up.
I don’t really have much more to say about these events that I haven’t already covered in the past but I did snap a few pics for your perusal. Not nearly enough but at the same time, I found myself just enjoying the situation and the people I was with!
Did you make your way to SF for any of the fun? Tell me all about it!