Certified Cheese Professional Sabina Magyar shows off a
chunk of cheddar-blue from Larry’s Market. Location:
Thief Wine Shop & Bar, Milwaukee Public Market.
Photography by JOE LAEDTKE
Last July, Sabina Magyar, pencil in hand, sat with
her head down in a room with more than 150 people during the
American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference & Competition in Des
Moines, Iowa. Her years working in the cheese industry as beverage
and cheese manager at Glorioso’s Italian Market, classes at the
Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in Madison, ACS webinars, weeks
of carving out 10 hours for study, nights reading — all led to this
three-hour-long, intense exam to become a Certified Cheese
Professional. Magyar used every minute, and her preparation paid
off: She became one of four CCPs in the state of Wisconsin certified
this year and one of only nine total statewide.
“It’s the sixth year that they offered (the exam), and there’s nothing
else like it out there,” Magyar says, adding that within the wine
industry there are several options for certifications. “So it’s unique —
they are the organization for cheese in America.”
The exam focuses on North American cheeses and also covers those in
Europe and other parts of the world as well as cheesemaking, storage,
distribution, marketing, ingredients and nutrition, and regulations and
safety. Certification means Magyar can explain the nutritional benefits
of cheeses and talk about how cheeses are made and how that affects the
taste, she says.
“It really goes from the very beginning of that product and that person
who makes it, how they make it and where they make it all the way to
someone eating it and enjoying it, so you can offer information that is
not one-dimensional,” she says. “At the end of the day, it’s about
(sharing) a great cheese with someone.”
While many of the test takers were there at the request of their
employers, and sponsored by them, Magyar committed her own time and
money out of her passion for cheese — and a dream to open her own cheese
shop one day.
That day is approaching fast: This winter, The Village Cheese Shop will
open in the Village of Wauwatosa. Magyar, who only considered a location
in the Village, enthuses, “you can get bakery, coffee, olive oil and
vinegar, flowers, cheese and wine all in a one- or two-block radius,”
mentioning the area’s Anodyne café that’s also set to debut in 2017.
Her shop will feature cut-to-order artisan, farmstead and specialty
cheeses, a charcuterie program focusing on Midwestern producers, gourmet
groceries, cheese boards and accessories, a selection of cider and beer,
and 100 to 130 bottles of wine for $15 to $20 each. Magyar plans to
include a sit-down cheese bar with a small menu of salads and sandwiches
and offer cheese-tasting classes and catering.
What cheese is Magyar excited about now? “Uplands’ Pleasant Ridge
Reserve won ACS Best of Show three times — no one else has,” she says.
“Then they make Rush Creek Reserve, a cheese for the wintertime, where
the cows are no longer in the pasture; they’re eating hay. It’s a young
cheese, and as it ages, it gets softer and gooier. You put a spoon in
there, and spoon it on a piece of bread. It gets hearty and meaty, and
it’s fun for a party.”
Looking ahead, she adds,
“The cheese community is such a great community, and we’re in Wisconsin,
so we have so much available to us. There are so many wonderful cheeses
in the Midwest and across the country. I’d like to promote cheese
3 Cheeses to Wow
For a party, Sabina Magyar recommends focusing on one large cheese with
accompaniments for a dramatic effect. You can have one cheese station or
two or three that each showcase one spectacular cheese. Her suggestions:
Creek Reserve, Uplands Cheese Company, Wisconsin.
soft, washed-rind cheese made from cow’s milk. Made only in the autumn
and available from late November. (Place your order early.)
Serve: Saw around the edges, peel back the top, and spoon it over
a piece of crusty bread. Good with dried apricots and hazelnuts.
Wine: A German Riesling Spätlese.
Beer: A malty Belgian with some hops.
Gorgonzola Piccante, Italy. From Northern Italy, a classic blue
cheese made from cow’s milk and aged.
Serve: On a baguette slice with a drizzle of honey. Good with
fresh slices of pear and candied walnuts.
Wine: Moscato d’Asti or Amarone.
Cider: A slightly sweet, effervescent apple cider.
Red Rock, Roelli Cheese Haus, Wisconsin. A
cheddar-blue, this Wisconsin original cheese is a stunning display of
intensely dark orange with veins of blue mold running throughout.
Serve: Simply cut a piece. Good with dried cranberries or chutney
and wheat crackers.
Wine: A fruity zinfandel.
Beer: Brown ale.