Mark Todd

The Cheese Dude...

Cheese is not an ingredient or a product readily understood outside of the western world. It is a versatile food that can stand on its own or complement many culinary creations, but chefs and retail staff in growing cheese markets entrusted to work with and sell cheese have limited knowledge of this jack of all trades.

The Cheese Dude, otherwise known as Mark Todd, the 52-year-old Monte Rio Dairy Consultant for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the California Milk Advisory Board, lives to share the passion of his life - teaching people to enjoy the pleasures of eating cheese with beer & wine and is the Official Instructor / Brand Ambassador for The USA Cheese Specialist™ Certification Program.

Before he became "the Cheese Dude" - a title bestowed upon him unofficially by friends in 1995, Todd managed a Goodyear Tires store in Sunnyvale. But when he hit 30, Todd decided to move on and began looking outward for sources of excitement. His attention drifted toward the North Bay wine country, and in 1990 Todd and his wife bought a house in Monte Rio.

Still in a professional transition, Todd befriended one Allen Hendricks, then a promoter of Wisconsin cheese and a carver who scraped sculptures out of tremendous wholesale blocks of cheddar and displayed them at high-society events and festivals. Hendricks introduced Todd to the finer points of cheese, whether crumbly, soft, young, or old. With a foot in the door of the industry and with a hardwired love of beer and wine, Todd began to promote cheese and beverages himself, and his next life as the Cheese Dude came blooming like a desert watered by rain.

Todd’s objectives are not just corporate-driven, he equates artisan cheese - as well as bread, beer, and wine - to skilled societies in which products are made locally, start to finish, by hand, and in which people know the ones who produce their food. In Todd's own life, artisan cheese and the people who make it have served as a conduit to elevated satisfaction and interpersonal relations, and Todd believes that cheese could likewise benefit the rest of the world.

Mark Todd

But Todd believes there is still lots of work to do. “Even the USA remains in the infancy stages of cheese appreciation. In Europe, 85 percent of cheese is consumed as a table product, enjoyed on its own before or with a meal, the remaining 15 percent is integrated into recipes. In the USA, the numbers are almost exactly reversed; Americans eat most of their cheese camouflaged on pizza and in macaroni, lasagna, and other foods. Relatively rarely do they nibble on a block of cheese or spread a soft one over crackers at a dinner party, though the tide is turning. I would like to see Americans wake up to artisan cheese as a table product, and in Asia, I want to see people wake up to cheese as a Food, period ", says Todd.

Mark Todd

As cheese continues to increase in global popularity, the U.S. dairy industry, with its unique positioning to meet growing demand from foodservice operators and food and beverage manufacturers as well as retailers in the Middle East and around the world, in partnership with ICCA Dubai, with its state-of-the-art facility and extensive network in the region, has formed a first-of-its-kind International Certification Program, launched by the USA Cheese Guild.

Designed for both foodservice and retail, this global training - The USA Cheese Specialist™ Certification Program consists of three, progressive certification levels (Associate, Intermediate, and Master).

The U.S. Dairy Export Council

U.S Dairy Export Council

The U.S. Dairy Export Council ® (USDEC) is a nonprofit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. USDEC aims to enhance U.S. global competitiveness through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers, and advance industry trade policy goals.

As the world’s largest producer of cow’s milk, the U.S. dairy industry offers a sustainably produced, world-class, and ever-expanding portfolio of cheese varieties as well as nutritional and functional dairy ingredients (e.g., skim milk powder, lactose, whey proteins). USDEC, together with its network of overseas representatives in the Middle East and around the world, also works directly with global buyers and end-users to accelerate customer purchasing and innovation success with quality U.S. dairy products and ingredients.

“I would like to see Americans wake up to Artisan Cheese as a table product, and in Asia, I want to see people wake up to Cheese as a Food, period."

Mark Todd

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