You can never know too much about cheese.
That’s why cheese expert Nathan Aldridge enrolled in UVM’s online Artisan Cheese & Sensory Fundamentals Certificate Program last fall.
Aldridge, who lives in Atlanta, is a manager who runs training programs for cheesemongers Gourmet Foods International. A cheese professional with more than 15 years of experience, Aldridge was looking for an alternative to the American Cheese Society Annual Conference, which was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. He came across UVM’s online artisan cheese certificate program and decided to enroll last fall.
“Last year, I didn’t travel. I wanted to continue my cheese education—you can never know enough about cheese—because there’s always something more to learn,” says Aldridge. “I was looking to stay current. When I saw the UVM program, I did some research and jumped right on it.”
The UVM cheesemaking certificate is a four-week, online program for cheesemongers, food systems professionals, and aspiring cheesemakers.
“We had students in the program who are novices about cheese, and we also had professionals. Everybody was able to pull something out of that class and learn something,” he says. “To me, that’s impressive.”
The UVM Cheesemaking Certificate is designed to:
- Share the expertise of Vermont’s award-winning cheesemakers
- Help beginning cheesemakers, cheesemongers, and other people working within the food system build knowledge around types of cheeses and the foundations of cheesemaking
- Introduce students to the various career pathways in the cheese industry
- Equip students with the ability to conduct sensory evaluations for different types of cheese
“What I loved at UVM was the communication piece between the students. We all read each other’s work and commented on each other’s work,” Aldridge says. “This program allowed there to be a small community of people trying to gain more cheese knowledge, and at the same time, be able to support each other as well. I thought that was something very unique.”
Aldridge began his cheese business career in 2005 at Murray’s Cheese in New York. He had studied restaurant management at the University of Alabama and graduated with plans for managing or owning a restaurant.
“Then I realized how hard the restaurant business was and couldn’t find a job,” he says. “A friend suggested I apply to Murray’s for a job selling cheese. I love food, I always have. Even though I didn’t know much about cheese, I was known to be pretty good at customer service.”
Aldridge worked his way up quickly at Murray’s, first becoming an assistant manager within two months and eventually promoted to manager.
“I always say that when I became manager at Murray’s, I left the cheese counter. And I missed that. It made me yearn for cheese again,” he says, adding that wanting to work more closely with cheese again prompted him to change jobs and work for Gourmet Foods International.
The UVM course was an effective way for Aldridge to learn and rediscover things about cheese, including the terroir of cheese and flavor profiles.
“Studying the terroir isn’t normally done in a lot of cheese courses. But UVM made us really think about cheese—things like the condition of the land that the animals grazed on, and how the cheese was going to taste based on what the cows were eating,” he says. “UVM pulls it all together.”
The UVM program also rekindled Aldridge’s passion for cheese.
“While I might call myself an old-timer in the business, so to speak, I was still able to get passionate, and I was still able to learn,” he says.
Learn more about the UVM Artisan Cheese & Sensory Fundamentals Certificate Program