The undisputed queens of French cheese

In the months leading up to the very first cheese-focused iteration of the Best Worker of France (MOF) competition, held at regular intervals to reward the best craftsmen in the country, Nathalie Quatrehomme remembers her cheese-making mother, Marie, taking over the family living room, assembling and disassembling a Plexiglas device supporting dozens of different cheeses.

“It was in 2000, and I was 17,” recalls Nathalie. “She practiced building it on our living room table for an entire year.”

Marie’s latest project, a veritable work of art called “La Pyramide des Saveurs”, Nathalie recalls, began with a base of real grass above which grew a veritable tower of cheeses with various flavors and textures, passing from sweet to assertive, from milky and weepy to dense and crumbly.

“She really started with milk,” Nathalie said. “Grass, then bottles of milk, then cheeses, and again and again…it was really, really pretty.”

By the time Marie Quatrehomme was developing her cheese tower, she had already undergone a litany of tests on cheese culture, technology and terroir for the competition. She wowed jurors during blind tastings and answered questions about French cheese appellations, which now number 46, each governed by a strict charter regulating everything from regional provenance to animal breed. She was grilled on cheese legislation and quizzed on the economics of building a cheese buffet – all with the aim of being recognized, not just by her peers, but by the French nation as a whole. .

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