Lincoln Broadbooks is the first to admit you don’t see the job description “cheesemonger” on a lot of resumes these days.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
Last August, the soft-spoken cheese whiz who grew up eating Kraft cheddar passed an inaugural exam administered by the American Cheese Society. That makes the manager of the Better Cheddar gourmet/specialty store in Prairie Village the only certified cheese professional in a six state area.
The three-hour, 150-question multiple-choice exam covered topics ranging from the raw ingredients and science of cheesemaking to storing, handling, selecting, marketing and communicating about cheese.
“I guess I’m a geek, but I don’t want to be intimidating,” he says. “There are 200 to 250 cheeses in the shop at any one time, and that makes a lot of people’s eyes glaze over.”
To sell cheese, Broadbooks asks leading questions: Do you prefer hard or soft? What type of milk do you prefer? Are you looking for something with a full or mild flavor? He’s also an advocate for American-made cheese.
“There are some really good American cheeses, usually copies of something in Europe, but we’re starting to get some cheeses that can stand up to their Old World counterparts,” he says.
The Kansas/Missouri area is not necessarily a mecca for aspiring artisanal cheesemakers, but Broadbooks has some favorites, such as Green Dirt Farm’s award-winning sheep’s milk cheeses. He also likes Alpine Prairie (raw cow and goat milk) and asiago (raw cow milk) from Skyview Farm in Pleasanton, Kan.; Flory’s Truckle (raw Jersey cow milk, aged one year) from Milton Creamery in Jamesport, Mo., and Cottonwood River raw cow’s milk cheddar from Jason Wiebe Dairy in Durham, Kan.
These cheeses sell for $20 to $30 a pound, which might explain why farmers eager to find a value-added revenue source have started to drop by the store to ask if Broadbooks would consider carrying their products.
“There are people out there ready to take the plunge,” he says.