Dubai’s famous “The Big Cheese” event

  • Oct. 27, 2022
Dubai’s famous “The Big Cheese” event

The USA Cheese Guild, the center for cheese excellence and knowledge, will host 12 USA Cheese Specialists® in Dubai later this month as part of a competition to determine 'The Big Cheese'. In collaboration with the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) Dubai, the 12 finalists, all of whom are graduates of the USA Cheese Specialist Certification Program, will compete in a cook-off on 24 October at ICCA Dubai, where they will be tasked with creating a fine-dining menu featuring at least two varieties of USA Cheese in both the appetizer and main course.

A spectacular award ceremony will be held on October 25 at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa on The Palm to announce the winner. The major objective of this competition is to inspire graduates of the USA Cheese Guild and ICCA-sponsored USA Cheese Specialist Certification Program to demonstrate their advanced cheese knowledge and application, innovation, and presenting abilities.

Chef Uwe Micheel, President of the Emirates Culinary Guild; Chef Sebastian Nohse, Senior Culinary Director for Hilton Hotels, Europe Middle East and Asia; Chef Andreas Krampl, Senior Director of Culinary, Middle East & Africa, Marriot International; and Chef Antonio El Khoury, Director of Culinary Programs MENA for the USA Cheese Guild and Instructor of the USA Cheese Specialist Certification Exam, will serve as judges for the competition. Amy Foor, vice president of global foodservice programs for the USA Cheese Guild, will join them.

Finalists will get an all-inclusive vacation to Dubai, including airfare, a three-night stay at a premium resort, and dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Finalists will also have the chance to experience the thrill of Skydive Dubai.

The mission of the USA Cheese Guild is to raise awareness of American cheeses among local trade and consumers through educational programs that highlight the cheeses' artistry, quality, innovation, variety, and adaptability.

A cornerstone of the Guild's educational initiatives is the USA Cheese Specialist Certification Program, a professional training curriculum for importers, distributors, foodservice professionals, and retailers that provides instruction on American cheeses, how to use or sell them, and, most importantly, helps participants discover an exciting industry they never knew existed.

The program is delivered through workshops and cooperation with nine of the world's most prominent culinary schools and colleges. To date, over 1,400 industry experts have completed the program and earned the USA Cheese Specialist title. Since 2018, ICCA has offered the version of the program designed for culinary students. It consists of three progressive levels – Associate, Intermediate, and Advanced – and 36 hours of instruction, during which students gain a greater understanding and appreciation of cheese by tasting and preparing a variety of American cheeses.

According to the most recent data from the USA Cheese Guild, MENA's cheese imports from the U.S. surpassed 22,385 metric tonnes (MT) in 2021, an increase of 37% over the previous year. In the same year, U.S. dairy and cheese exports experienced a record-breaking year, with 2,3 million metric tonnes (MT) of dairy products sent and a record-breaking 404,000 MT of cheese exported, representing a 14% rise year-over-year.

Today, the United States generates a fifth of the world's cheese output and produces over 1,000 cheese kinds in all 50 states. In addition to meeting global demand for cheese, the country is gaining a reputation for producing some of the world's tastiest cheeses, having won numerous awards at the World Cheese Awards and the World Championship Cheese Contest in recent years.