Cheesemonger Molly Hess has already achieved one of the highest forms of recognition in the cheese world by becoming an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. Now she’s ready to test her knowledge and expertise among the country’s greatest cheese professionals at this year’s Cheesemonger Invitational, proudly representing Marché and Glen Ellyn!
What is the Cheesemonger Invitational? What can you compare it to for those of us not in the Cheesemonger world?
Imagine a summer camp that culminates in the Olympic Games! Cheesemonger Invitational is a big gathering of cheese industry “family“ from all over, coming together to not only celebrate the cheese we love, but put our skills as mongers to the test! Blind taste and aroma evaluations, targeted weight cutting, salesmanship, pairing skills and more are evaluated by seasoned industry pros for excellence. It’s an experience that, though intimidating, draws you in with its grand scale and warm energy.
Why do you want to participate and enter the Cheesemonger Invitational? What does this event mean to you?
For me personally, CMI is an opportunity to push my growth & challenge myself. It’s an illuminating educational opportunity for those behind the counter who love cheese with all their heart; you become stronger stewards of this amazing thing called cheese and you connect with people who feel the same way.
What are the aspects of the invitational that you love and what is the most challenging for you?
As a big geek for cheese, a huge draw for me the first time I applied (for CMI Chicago in 2019) were the education sessions. I got to spend a full day tasting and listening to the cheesemaking rockstars themselves, breakdown their process and iconic creations. The biggest challenge is always nerves. I’m not the most skilled, culinarily or otherwise, and have to continually push through the second-guessing and doubts.
Are you excited about heading to New York City for this event?
Yes. Terrified but very excited too. I’ve never contemplated traveling for CMI before and am nudging myself well out of my comfort zone.
What are your goals with this event? How do you hope to use the knowledge and experience you gain from this event when you return to Marché?
My goal is always to keep moving forward. Cheese is where I’m happiest to be and I’m eternally grateful that it’s where I ended up and what I get to do every day! CMI is one of those milestone events in the cheese community that lights a fire under you and builds you up. I’m looking to evolve myself even more and serve our cheese-loving customers better than ever!
Please join us in wishing Molly great success at this year’s Cheesemonger Invitational. She placed 4th overall in 2019 so her sights are set high! We will keep you updated on her journey on social media and in our newsletters. And when she returns, she will have something delicious to share with you that she learned, tasted and enjoyed at this year’s CMI! To learn more about the Cheesemonger Invitational, visit online