Hooked On Cheese: A Giant Leaves the NYC Cheese World
Last month, New York City cheese pioneer Max McCalman moved from NYC to Florida to work as the maître fromager at The Wine Room in Orlando.
Detailing McCalman’s history is to tell the story of artisan cheese in NYC. He began his career at Chef Terrance Brennan’s storied Upper West Side restaurant Picholine in 1995 and during his tenure elevated the concept of “the cheese course” to national acclaim. Naturally, there’d been numerous restaurants that offered a cheese service or cheese plate prior to McCalman’s efforts, but he set the new standard for the United States. In 2001, he went on to direct the cheese program at Brennan’s new cheese-focused restaurant, Artisanal Fromagerie. He has been a member of La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers Confrérie de Saint-Uguzon as Garde et Jure since 2002 and was elevated to Maître Fromager in 2013.
In addition to being a fromager, McCalman is the bestselling author of four books on cheese and the winner of a James Beard Foundation Award for his bestselling book Cheese: a Connoisseurs Guide to the World’s Best. This collection is used regularly as the fundamental reference and guide for developing first-class cheese programs nationwide.
McCalman’s unparalleled cheese knowledge has also made him a formidable presence as an educator in the cheese world. He has taught national cheese seminars, judged countless cheese competitions, and given tours of cheese producers of France. He was a founding member of the American Cheese Society’s Certified Cheese Professional® program and served as chair of its committee from 2012 to 2016. He joined the ACS Board of Directors that same year.
Perhaps most significantly, McCalman has helped elevate consumers’ awareness of artisan cheeses. Just as he heightened the experience of the cheese course, he pioneered the experience of cheese buying; as a result, the current generation of American cheesemongers is more well versed and better informed than ever, benefitting consumers and cheesemakers alike.
The ranks of cheese professionals of New York City would like to bid a fond adieu to the master and wish him well on his new adventure. American artisan cheese has benefited immensely from McCalman’s extraordinary contributions, and will doubtless continue to advance thanks to his future undertakings.