(PatriotWise.com) — The Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin employs a group of cheese tasters who are trained to analyze cheese that is made by graduate research students, pizzerias, and Wisconsin’s famous cheese industry.
Wisconsin public radio WUWM spoke with the center’s “sensory coordinator,” Brandon Prochaska, who explained the training process for the cheese tasters, whose process and discriminating palates he compared to wine tasters.
The Center has hired cheese tasters for about a decade. Previously, the Center hired only students from the University of Wisconsin. But last year, the Center opened the jobs to applicants from the community.
This year, the Center’s job posting for “Descriptive Sensory Panelists” was covered by national news outlets, including NBC’s Today, CNN, and Business Insider. As a result, around 250 people applied to fill the five part-time positions available.
Prochaska told WUWM that he couldn’t explain the sudden interest in the job, except to say that perhaps the thought of getting paid to taste cheese was enticing.
He said many of the applicants this year were “very passionate” and “enthusiastic” about getting hired, with some including receipts for all of the Domino’s pizzas they’ve purchased.
Cheese tasters are trained in every aspect of the procedure, including when to chew the cheese, when to plug up their nostrils or unplug them to either block or capture the aromas, and when to spit the cheese out.
Prochaska said that just like wine tasters don’t get drunk from tasting wines all day, cheese tasters don’t get full from tasting cheese.
The Descriptive Sensory Panelists serve an important purpose for the cheese industry in Wisconsin, Prochaska told WUWM, helping cheese makers answer questions like how to extend the shelf-life of their products and how to improve the flavor.
Additionally, the cheese tasters can help companies determine if the new technologies they are using to make cheese are replicating the flavors consumers expect.
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