About the Master's Program
The Master's Story
Why choose a cheese made by a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker? Because behind the distinctive blue Master's Mark® on the label is an assurance of quality that you just can't get anywhere else. That mark, which can only be used by the 52 Wisconsin cheesemakers who've earned it, tells quite a story.
It tells you that experience, technical expertise and artistry went into making that cheese. And, it means that you can be confident that you've chosen the best cheese from the only place in America where cheesemakers can become true Masters of their craft-Wisconsin.
Those who do so are a breed apart. Already highly skilled veterans before they begin the certification process, Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers are driven by a desire to continue learning and perfecting their skills. Most will tell you that becoming a Master is the hardest thing they've ever done, and most will tell you they'd do it all over again. Many have done just that, completing the program multiple times to be certified as Masters in additional cheese varieties.
Only in Wisconsin
Now in its 18th year, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program is the only one of its kind outside of Europe. For cheesemakers, it provides the opportunity to reach the highest levels of their craft. For buyers, it provides unparalleled quality assurance, innovation and expertise.
How It Works
Administered from the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the program is open to veteran Wisconsin cheesemakers with a minimum of 10 years experience in Quality Assured plants. Candidates can seek certification for up to two cheese varieties each time they enter the three-year program. They must have been making those specific varieties for at least five years.
Only certified Master Cheesemakers are eligible to use the Master's Mark® on their products.
- Participants must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years experience working at a plant which participates in the Quality Assurance Program.
- Made the cheese variety for which they seek certification for at least five years.
- Complete required courses in cheese technology, artisanship, grading and quality assurance
- Complete elective courses that range from applied dairy chemistry, to water and waste management, to whey and whey utilization
- Participate in a three-year apprenticeship during which time he or she must submit samples of cheese for evaluation of quality and consistency
- Pass a rigorous final written examination