October 2 – October 6, 2018
Faculty: Eric Meredith
The art and science of affinage is a complex alchemy that can take a few hours or last several years. When making aged cheeses, the French consider that milk undergoes two transformations: first, liquid milk is transformed into fresh curd and second, the curd is transformed into aged cheese. This course covers the second transformation in all aspects while adding tips for clear lines of communication with the cheesemaker (first transformation) and developing profitable relationships with your customers.
Two comprehensive tastings have been designed to hone your palate and expand your knowledge of sensory evaluation in respect to age profiles as well as defects. Classroom sessions will dive deep into the biochemistry and microbiology behind affinage. Later in the week the class will apply the classroom theory by working directly with cheeses at the Cellars at Jasper Hill. This day long experiential part of the course will include a soft and hard cheese practical skills workshop. The exercises planned will give you hands on practice to applying in your own endeavors.
Students will be introduced to various methods of maintaining and monitoring the ripening environment. Design ideas for affinage spaces, cheesemaking facilities and distribution areas will be shared and scrutinized to maximize flow, reduce food safety challenges, comply with ergonomic principles and keep quality at its highest levels. Students will leave the course confident in their ability to make decisions concerning cheese ripening room design elements, refrigeration styles, room volumes needed, best materials for function and developing a food safety plan for an affinage facility.
This course is co-sponsored by The Cellars at Jasper Hill
Level: Intermediate – Advanced This course is suitable for confident home cheesemakers and those who have experience in commercial cheesemaking. This course is often considered a professional development opportunity to those who work in the cheese industry.
Prerequisites: There are no formal prerequisites for this class. The Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese course is a highly recommended prerequisite for this class but not required.
In order to gain the full value of the class, students should have confident cheese-making experience and should come with a general understanding of the biology and chemistry associated with milk, proteins, carbohydrates, enzymes and microbes along with basic algebra. Eric will commonly use metric units and degrees Celsius; please be comfortable with these units of measure before class begins.
Tuition & Fees: The complete cost for this course is $2500. This covers tuition, a printed text, electronic access to course materials, and ground transportation between all course locations. Also provided are three meals per day prepared by the Sterling Kitchen. Not included are airport transfers or accommodations.
Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60 per night with a private bathroom and $50 per night with shared bathroom access. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic, dormitory-style housing that is clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis. Information on off-campus housing options can be found here.
Faculty Bio: Eric Meredith stepped into the food world as a dishwasher in a hospital kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts at the age of 14. He then attended Johnson & Wales University to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts and a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Nutrition. He furthered his food-focused education by becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in New York City. Eric later worked for Herve Mons in France for as his right-hand man helping him design his tunnel in Ambierle and running the day-to-day operations at the caves in St. Haon le Chatel. During his 6 years in France, Eric learned cheese making from the best artisans in France and affinage from Herve’s network of affineurs. Eric’s next big project was with Wegmans in Rochester, NY where he designed, built and managed their affinage facility. Eric now works with Neal’s Yard Dairy as the project manager facilitating the design and move to their new aging and distribution facility in London. He also volunteers his time as the chairman of the education committee for the American Cheese Society, where he stretches the boundaries and strives for excellence in artisan stewardship. Eric also runs consulting business helping cheese makers, affineurs and retailers all over the world design, troubleshoot and fine tune cheese making and affinage programs and facilities.