Canadian Cheese Society holds its first AGM

Andy Shay of Sobey's Ontario.

Market Trends in Cheese: A View from the Trenches will be the topic of a special presentation by Andy Shay, Cheese Product Manager at Sobey’s Ontario, at the first annual general meeting of the Canadian Cheese Society next week.

The meeting on Wednesday, November 16, starts at one o’clock at the Centre for Social Innovation, 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto. It is open to Society members and those interested in getting involved in the organization dedicated to growing the artisan/farmstead/specialty cheese sector in Canada.

For information, email the Society’s office.

The transformation of the Ontario Cheese Society into a Canadian organization to represent and promote artisan, farmstead and specialty cheesemakers coast to coast is under way—not without its challenges. For more information, visit the Ontario Cheese Society website which is being reconfigured to reflect the new scope of the organization.

The Canadian Cheese Society’s first national cheese conference and market is scheduled for March 29, 2012, at Hart House, Toronto.

Petra Kassun-Mutch, founder of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, serves as chair of the Society. Board members are Elisabeth Bzikot of Best Baa Dairy, Don Pendlebury of Pine Grove Cheese, Amarjit Singh of Local Dairy, Robert Santen of Glen Echo Fine Foods, Georgs Kolesnikovs of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, Wendy Furtenbacher, and Suzanne Caskie.

Video: Curdy Girl loves her cheese


I’m 24 hours late for Video Wednesday but delighted, nevertheless, to introduce you to Curdy Girl aka Wendy Furtenbacher aka The Girl Who Really Loves Her Cheese. She is Canada’s newest cheese blogger and a hoot. Play the video clip and you’ll see what I mean.

By day, Wendy works at a professional association in Toronto. By night and on weekends, she indulges in her passion for fromage. Here’s her story, in her own words:

Like many people, I grew up with Kraft singles thinking that was good stuff. At least, it was fun to eat, all individually wrapped, but given that I’m from Québec, my first recollection of natural cheese is cheese curds. Nobody does squeaky cheese like the Québecois  cheesemakers—squeaky, fresh, salty and available at every corner store by the cash register.

I can safely say that my palate has expanded quite a bit. Blues, Alpine cheeses, washed rinds, aged cheddars (clothbound in particular) are usually found in my fridge, along with milder fresh cheeses like chevres and buffalo mozzarella.  I am always open to trying new cheeses.  Sheep-milk cheese is a particular favourite.

Typically, I shop for my cheeses in farmers’ markets and specialty cheese shops. I have the most fun when I buy directly from the cheesemaker or highly knowledgeable cheesemongers who are passionate about their cheeses. I like a little education with my purchase.

As Enthusiast Director on the Board of the Canadian Cheese Society, I head up communication vehicles such as the monthly Cheese Slice News, and edit the Canadian Cheese Society Newsletter. I am also a member in good standing of La Société des fromages du Québec and the American Cheese Society.

Wendy is currently enrolled in the Professional Fromager program at George Brown College and has taken numerous cheese-appreciation classes around Toronto. And here’s a plug for her services: “I am available for corporate, reception or special event consultations and writing opportunities in cheese.”

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Cheese-head-in-chief at, Georgs Kolesnikovs is busier than heck these days with planning for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on the first weekend in June.

Ontario Cheese Society goes pan-Canadian

The Ontario Cheese Society is transforming into a Canadian organization to represent and promote artisan, farmstead and specialty cheesemakers coast to coast.

Since its inception as a provincial body in 2004, the Society has grown to include more than 100 active members as Canada’s only value-chain-based cheese organization. Its membership includes all levels of the value chain from cheese producers and dairy farmers to cheesemongers, retailers, distributors, supporting industry, food writers, academics and cheese enthusiasts alike.

A new logo and revamped website are in the works for Canadian Cheese Society.

“It became clear to us that cheese producers and cheese lovers in other provinces would be interested in—and benefit from—becoming part of a unique value-chain organization,” says Gurth Pretty, Ontario Cheese Society chair and president of the new Canadian organization. “At our annual general meeting in April 2010, the board of directors presented a proposal to expand our mission across Canada.”

Members endorsed the proposal and the hunt was on for a new name for the new organization. In August, a member survey revealed emphatic support for the new name, with 81 per cent favouring Canadian Cheese Society. It will be a bilingual organization, known in French as la Société des fromages canadiens.

The transformation to the new name and new organization will officially take place January 1, 2011, with the unveiling of a new logo and a revamped website. The Canadian Cheese Society’s first conference will take place in Toronto in the spring of 2011.

The Society objectives are:

  • to promote and support the attainment of the common goal of its members, which is to grow and develop the artisan/farmstead/specialty cheese sector;
  • to organize networking and educational opportunities for members;
  • to provide co-promotion opportunities;
  • to advocate the importance of the artisan/farmstead/specialty cheese community to policy makers and the consumer;
  • to facilitate professional development opportunities for its members.

There are four levels of membership:

  1. Cheesemaker
  2. Supporting Industry
  3. Professional
  4. Enthusiast

For more information about the Canadian Cheese Society, visit or contact Gurth Pretty at or (416) 346-4236.

For background on the transformation, see the earlier report by