counter culture hosts multi-day educational seminars across the country for professionals in the cheese and specialty food industries. 

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Education

From science, to culture, to language to marketing to economics—cheese and charcuterie are endlessly complex, but educational opportunities for mongers are frustratingly limited.

Partnering with a diverse roster of makers and industry leaders, we provide an accessible, evolving curriculum that connects attendees directly with experts, tastings, professional resources, community growth and other vital development opportunities.

During two full days, counter culture hosts classes on cheese and charcuterie science, history and pairing, while cheesemakers from around the world present what they do.

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tasting

If you’re coming to counter culture, get hungry. With up to twelve presenters guiding tastings of cheese and charcuterie —well, that’s a lot of food.

In-between presentations, be sure to save room for what’s on our Tasting Table; all day, it’s completely stocked full of samples and snacks from a range of companies. From nut butters to pickles to crackers and preserves, it’s the place to sniff out new products for your shop, experiment with cheese pairings, or just snack for the sake of it.

Bonus: we also feed you lunch with an educational twist.

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COMMUNITY + ALUMNI

Cheese people are the best people. At the very least, counter culture is an opportunity to get all of these people under one roof.

In addition to classroom time, we host happy hours and a separate Mingle with the Maker event after the first day where you can peruse more samples and mingle with our expert group of presenters. Most importantly, you’ll get to know other mongers and cheese professionals from your city and region, forming networks you can build on in the future.

We also keep in touch with you with monthly newsletters and offering access to a growing online resource full of learning materials and additional opportunities.

 photo by:  the mobile monger

our team

  Lassa Skinner, Executive Director   Lassa’s cheese life began in Boston in the mid-’90s behind the counter at Formaggio Kitchen. She  moved west to settle in California, where she ran the St. Helena Farmers Market and Napa’s Downtown Chef’s Market before opening the Oxbow Cheese Merchant. In 2007, Lassa co-founded culture, a general consumer magazine devoted to inspiring and educating the cheese-loving public. She is determined to ensure that everyone working in cheese and specialty foods not only enjoys what they do but keeps learning, growing and building these industries by recognizing the value of community, and embracing individuals’ skills and unique talents.

Lassa Skinner, Executive Director

Lassa’s cheese life began in Boston in the mid-’90s behind the counter at Formaggio Kitchen. She  moved west to settle in California, where she ran the St. Helena Farmers Market and Napa’s Downtown Chef’s Market before opening the Oxbow Cheese Merchant. In 2007, Lassa co-founded culture, a general consumer magazine devoted to inspiring and educating the cheese-loving public. She is determined to ensure that everyone working in cheese and specialty foods not only enjoys what they do but keeps learning, growing and building these industries by recognizing the value of community, and embracing individuals’ skills and unique talents.

  Kara Kaminski-Killiany, Director of Program Development   Kara brings a decade of experience growing innovative programs from concept to scale to her role as Director of Program Development. Kara has worked across several continents, breaking down and translating complex information into digestible learnings that are in turn used to educate on food security and systems. Her dream is to be able to make the complex American dairy economy digestible for those who work in the industry and beyond and she’s always ready to discuss the pros and cons of milk pricing in the US. For Kara, cheese exists at the intersection of her specialities as well as the many layers of our domestic food system. Outside of her educational work and activism, Kara is a cheesemaker in Grand Rapids, Michigan who loves experimenting with all of the beers and ciders her great state has to offer.

Kara Kaminski-Killiany, Director of Program Development

Kara brings a decade of experience growing innovative programs from concept to scale to her role as Director of Program Development. Kara has worked across several continents, breaking down and translating complex information into digestible learnings that are in turn used to educate on food security and systems. Her dream is to be able to make the complex American dairy economy digestible for those who work in the industry and beyond and she’s always ready to discuss the pros and cons of milk pricing in the US. For Kara, cheese exists at the intersection of her specialities as well as the many layers of our domestic food system. Outside of her educational work and activism, Kara is a cheesemaker in Grand Rapids, Michigan who loves experimenting with all of the beers and ciders her great state has to offer.

  Emily Acosta, Project Coordinator   Emily is passionate about demystifying good food and working towards making great cheeses approachable and appreciated by all. She holds a masters in Food Studies, was the first woman (and New Yorker) to win the Cheesemonger Invitational competition in 2014, and was named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30 in 2015. Most recently, Emily worked as the lead salumi and cheese buyer for Eataly USA, which has locations in New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. As counter culture’s Project Coordinator, Emily manages the logistics of each seminar and helps develop and execute alumni community building and social media strategies.

Emily Acosta, Project Coordinator

Emily is passionate about demystifying good food and working towards making great cheeses approachable and appreciated by all. She holds a masters in Food Studies, was the first woman (and New Yorker) to win the Cheesemonger Invitational competition in 2014, and was named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30 in 2015. Most recently, Emily worked as the lead salumi and cheese buyer for Eataly USA, which has locations in New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. As counter culture’s Project Coordinator, Emily manages the logistics of each seminar and helps develop and execute alumni community building and social media strategies.

 
  Sascha Anderson, Education Specialist   Sascha can’t stop talking about cheese. She’s spent more than a decade educating consumers, retailers, producers, and first graders on the ins and outs of cheese, charcuterie, and all things delicious at noted culinary meccas like Murray’s Cheese and the International Culinary Center, and via The Kitchn, WNYC, and Martha Stewart Radio. As Education Specialist, Sascha helps mold the excellence of producers and partners into a curriculum that enlightens and enlivens counter culture attendees. When not talking cheese, she raises chickens, children, and chicory in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sascha Anderson, Education Specialist

Sascha can’t stop talking about cheese. She’s spent more than a decade educating consumers, retailers, producers, and first graders on the ins and outs of cheese, charcuterie, and all things delicious at noted culinary meccas like Murray’s Cheese and the International Culinary Center, and via The Kitchn, WNYC, and Martha Stewart Radio. As Education Specialist, Sascha helps mold the excellence of producers and partners into a curriculum that enlightens and enlivens counter culture attendees. When not talking cheese, she raises chickens, children, and chicory in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  Rachel Freier, ACS CCP, Culinary Specialist   Rachel is a cheese and culinary professional. She will talk about microbes, rinds, and how to cook with cheese for as long as you let her. Rachel worked as a restaurant manager for many years until she discovered her true calling. She was part of the opening crew for Murray’s Cheese Bar on Bleecker St.,developing their cheese and beverage program over the course of four years. Rachel created Murray’s Cheese Bar Monger’s Table, a 10-course cheese tasting menu paired with beverages, which inspired her current culinary path. Currently Rachel produces pop-up cheese dinners, writes cheese-focused recipes, and sells cheese to chefs in her current role as Food Service Specialist for FMA.

Rachel Freier, ACS CCP, Culinary Specialist

Rachel is a cheese and culinary professional. She will talk about microbes, rinds, and how to cook with cheese for as long as you let her. Rachel worked as a restaurant manager for many years until she discovered her true calling. She was part of the opening crew for Murray’s Cheese Bar on Bleecker St.,developing their cheese and beverage program over the course of four years. Rachel created Murray’s Cheese Bar Monger’s Table, a 10-course cheese tasting menu paired with beverages, which inspired her current culinary path. Currently Rachel produces pop-up cheese dinners, writes cheese-focused recipes, and sells cheese to chefs in her current role as Food Service Specialist for FMA.

  Amy Fukuizumi, Marketing & Communications   Amy  helps to build, plan and execute counter culture seminars across the country. She’s a writer, creator, and lover of cheese, simplicity, organizational efficiency, and storytelling. Her career spanned a few different industries—including construction and corporate gaming—before she started living out her cheese dreams with culture in 2015. Originally from Northern California, she now calls Newmarket, New Hampshire home.

Amy Fukuizumi, Marketing & Communications

Amy  helps to build, plan and execute counter culture seminars across the country. She’s a writer, creator, and lover of cheese, simplicity, organizational efficiency, and storytelling. Her career spanned a few different industries—including construction and corporate gaming—before she started living out her cheese dreams with culture in 2015. Originally from Northern California, she now calls Newmarket, New Hampshire home.

 
  Erin Clancy, Onsite Logistics & Monger Manager   Erin has over a decade of cheese experience and is currently the Sales Rep and Tasting Room Manager for The Mystic Cheese Company. She manages the back-of-house at each counter culture, wrangling and prepping all products for tasting. In her spare time she hosts cheese and beer pairing classes throughout Connecticut. As our Onsite Logistics & Monger Manager, she brings her enthusiasm to each and every city.

Erin Clancy, Onsite Logistics & Monger Manager

Erin has over a decade of cheese experience and is currently the Sales Rep and Tasting Room Manager for The Mystic Cheese Company. She manages the back-of-house at each counter culture, wrangling and prepping all products for tasting. In her spare time she hosts cheese and beer pairing classes throughout Connecticut. As our Onsite Logistics & Monger Manager, she brings her enthusiasm to each and every city.

  Molly McDonough, Editorial Advisor   As Associate Editor of culture magazine, Molly brings several years of experience in food media to the counter culture team. Before joining culture’s editorial staff in 2015, she worked as a cheesemaker on two continents, earned a food science degree in France, and spent time working with Heifer International on traditional cheese marketing projects in Eastern Europe. With counter culture she designs and edits curriculum materials, teaches classes, and works to bridge the educational and editorial missions of the magazine.

Molly McDonough, Editorial Advisor

As Associate Editor of culture magazine, Molly brings several years of experience in food media to the counter culture team. Before joining culture’s editorial staff in 2015, she worked as a cheesemaker on two continents, earned a food science degree in France, and spent time working with Heifer International on traditional cheese marketing projects in Eastern Europe. With counter culture she designs and edits curriculum materials, teaches classes, and works to bridge the educational and editorial missions of the magazine.

  Erika Kubick, Social Media Manager   Erika Kubick brings her background in cheesemongering and food service, as well as four years of digital marketing experience, to her role as Social Media Manager. She began her cheese career at Pastoral in Chicago and honed her journalism skills while working with Plate Magazine and covering local news with Chicagoist. Over the past two years, Erika has devoted her time to bridging the gap between cheese consumers and insiders with her blog, Cheese Sex Death.

Erika Kubick, Social Media Manager

Erika Kubick brings her background in cheesemongering and food service, as well as four years of digital marketing experience, to her role as Social Media Manager. She began her cheese career at Pastoral in Chicago and honed her journalism skills while working with Plate Magazine and covering local news with Chicagoist. Over the past two years, Erika has devoted her time to bridging the gap between cheese consumers and insiders with her blog, Cheese Sex Death.