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New England Regional Cheese Competition Judges

Susan Fallon Brennan, Hollis, NH
Susan Fallon Brennan has worked in the Specialty cheese industry for over 15 years. Experience includes managing specialty departments on the retail side and as a sales representative on the distribution side. She is an American Cheese Society 'Certified Cheese Professional'. Has chaired the Massachusetts Cheese Festival for two consecutive years. And most recently became a member of the New England Chapter of Les Dames Escoffier.

Lisa Caprera, Pittsburgh, PA

Lisa Caprera is currently finishing up her master's in food science at the Pennsylvania State University under Dr. Kerry Kaylegian. Her research has focused on helping farmstead and educational resources, and sensory evaluation. She has worked closely with cheesemakers in Pennsylvania through research and as a volunteer for the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild. Lisa first became interested in judging cheese through the collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest and has volunteered behind the scenes at the World Championship Cheese Contest, American Cheese Society Contest, and Pennsylvania Farm Show cheese contest. She is a firm believer in the power of sensory evaluation as a tool for troubleshooting and tracking cheese quality. Lisa is honored to return for her third year judging at The Big E and is awaed by all of the talented farmers, cheesemakers, and educators who make great cheese possible.

Sam Frank, Brooklyn, NY
Since 2009, Sam Frank has worked for artisan cheesemakers in Vermont, Washington State and Italy. After over two years of running operations for Crown Caves, an affineur in Brooklyn, NY, Sam was awarded The Daphne Zepos Teaching Award in 2016. He used the grant to travel throughout Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland and England to visit and learn from dairy farmers and cheesemakers working with the milk of their traditional, regional dairy breeds. Since 2017, Sam has been the Managing Director for Jumi, an importer of specialty cheeses from Switzerland. In addition to The Big E, he has judged cheese for The World Cheese Awards and The Good Food Awards.

John Greeley, Reading, MA
John Greeley was born on the Isle of Jersey (home of the Jersey cow breed) and came to American when he was very young. He was educated at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and says that his career choice of professional radio announcer slowly ended when he first tasted real, hand-made cheese. He operated the Cheese Division of John Dewar Meat Company for ten years and in 1990 became the founder and president of Sheila Marie Imports, Ltd. He was instrumental in supporting local cheese makers and helping them reach both independent and major chain retailers in New England and eventually the Northeast. Gourmet Foods International purchased Sheila Marie Imports in 2007, and John now serves as Vice President of Northeast Sales for GFI. John holds degrees in cheese grading from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and cheesemaking, from Washington State University, at Pullman. In 1984 he met ACS founders Dr. Frank Kosikowski and Dr. Dick Kleyne and joined the Society in support of the Judging event. In 1985 he and Ann Dixon brought the first complete ACS Conference to the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel in Boston and hosted the first Festival of Cheeses. Between 1988 and 2007 he served for 15 years as Chairman of the Cheese Judging and Competition Committee.He expanded the cheese categories from 8 to 102 and developed the Aesthetic and Technical two judge concept unique to the ACS. He continues to serve on the Competition and Judging Committee redefining the categories for Competition Committee approval as Competition Committee Chair Emeritus. John also served on the ACS Board of Directors for 12 years. John co-chaired the ACS annual conferences in 1987 with Dr. Dick Kleyne at Rutgers University, in 1996 with Ruth Flore at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY and again with Ruth in 1999 at Shelburne Farms VT. He was inducted into the Guilde des Fromagers in 2002 and elevated to Maitre Fromager in 2010. In 2003 he was recruited by the New Zealand Specialist Cheese Makers Ass. Between 2003 and 2007 John remodeld their national cheese competition and served as the Master Judge of the New Zealand’s Cuisine Champion of Cheese Competition. He developed and re-wrote their cheese classes and categories, awards and rules, and trained their judges. He was a media spokesman for the NZSCM and the national competition in press, radio and TV. He traveled New Zealand conducting trainings and cheese and wine curriculums while championing their local cheeses. John was the keynote speaker at the annual awards ceremony and visited almost all of the New Zealand specialist cheese makers. He resides in Reading, MA with his wife Nancy and twin sons William and Walter.

Shawn Hockert, Somerville, MA
Shawn Hockert started his career in 1995 as a herdsman for Westfield Farm in Hubbardston, MA, makers of Capri brand goat cheeses. After a year at Westfield Farm performing many aspects of animal husbandry as well as some cheese making functions, Shawn moved to Boston and took a position as a cheese buyer for Bread & Circus. Within six months, he accepted a position at Seacrest Foods where he has been since 1997. Seacrest Foods is a distributor to retail of cheeses and specialty Foods servicing greater New England and the metropolitan area of New York City. While at Seacrest, Shawn has been involved with all aspects of distribution, including customer service, logistics, sourcing, quality control, purchasing, sales and marketing and is currently the Director of Sales and Purchasing. In his role of sourcing and sales, Shawn has traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe, visiting cheese producers of a wide array of styles and traditions. Throughout the many years of experiencing tasting cheese and striving to understand the nuances of production that lead to flavor components, Shawn has nurtured a passion for understanding what makes a quality cheese.

Steven Murphy, Freeville, NY
Steve Murphy spent most of his career with the Department of Food Science, Cornell University, retiring in August of 2016 after 36 years of service. Steve began his work with Cornell as a laboratory technician performing research in dairy microbiology, chemistry and quality. He worked his way up to a Sr. Extension Associate position where he coordinated, developed and participated in extension-based training and outreach programs addressing milk and dairy product testing; dairy product quality evaluations and trouble-shooting; dairy processing; and food safety. He has served as a judge for the NY State Fair Dairy Product competition for over 20 years and has been an invited technical judge for the American Cheese Society competition since 2016. Steve has taught numerous HACCP/Food Safety Plan courses; is a Lead Instructor for the FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods curriculum; and routinely assists dairy operations with their food safety programs. Throughout much of his career he has been involved in writing peer reviewed publications and extension based educations handouts for the dairy industry. Steve currently serves part times as the Executive Director of the Dairy Practices Council, a non-profit organization that develops and disseminated educational guidelines for the dairy industry and is still active with the Cornell Dairy Foods Extension program as needed for training and outreach. Steve has a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Masters of Professional Studies in Food Science, both from Cornell University.

Grace Pullin, Hudson, NY
Grace Pullin is a cheesemonger and cheesemaker based in the Hudson Valley. She is currently the Head Cheesemonger at Talbott and Arding and the Assistant Cheesemaker at Churchtown Dairy. Before her recent move upstate, she was the Head Monger and Buyer at Van Hook Cheese and Grocery and a part of the affinage team at Crown Finish Caves.

Kate Stambaugh, Watertown, MA
After completing her undergrad at Boston University, including a semester abroad in Spain, chef Kate Smith discovered her passion for the culinary world. She began working under the acclaimed Tony Maws of Craigie Street Bistrot and stayed on as the restaurant became Craigie on Main. She continued working in restaurants for the next 10 years, spending time at TW Food in Cambridge, Ventuno in Nantucket, and Le Bernardin in New York City. She came back to Boston and where she worked as the Chef de Cuisine at Toro. During her time cooking she has always been drawn to cheesemaking. During a hiatus from cooking she spent time making cheese on a goat farm in Spain and always dreamed of working with cheese again. After stepping away from restaurants she began work at Formaggio Kitchen South End as the domestic cheese buyer. She loves supporting New England Farmers and exploring the cheese world.

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