That smiling face belongs to Justin Trosclair. He still delivers Little Debbies on the West Bank with his dad on his day off from St. James Cheese Company, but the guy also happens to be one of the most reputable cheesemongers in America. In June, Justin traveled to New York to compete at the Cheesemonger Invitational, and after taking the subway the wrong way, finding a cabbie who got lost in Queens, and showing up an hour late, he barely missed winning the entire thing by only a few points.
The way Justin explains it, the competition consisted of eight grueling rounds including a multiple choice quiz. a blind tasting, and mongering skills?even how well he unwrapped a cheese. He was forced to drink beer throughout the day. "But I couldn't get drunk," says Trosclair. If only we all had that problem.
Justin got into cheese at Whole Foods, practically a decade ago, and started making his own shortly thereafter. He moved out to Colorado and became head cheese maker for Haystack Mountain, even winning 1st place at the ACS for his artisanal goats milk cheeses in 2008. He still makes cheese, and is seriously considering starting his own operation in New Orleans.
And yet he remains one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. He is adamantly against the snootiness that often come with a job in gourmet foods. ""You know what," he said, "My philosophy has always been about being real and unpretentious when it comes to selling cheese. What does it matter how fancy this food or that food is if you can't share it with your friends?"