We’re totally excited to announce that
Jess Perrie is the first ever
Daphne Zepos Teaching Award Winner 2013!
Jess has an undergraduate degree in organic chemistry and a master’s in cheese chemistry. She’s been a cheesemaker at Silver Moon Creamery in Maine and Drake Family Farms in Utah. She’s worked on bovine health analysis on farms in Tanzania and Maine. Today she helps develop and wholesale cheese for Beehive Cheese Company in Uintah, Utah.
Jess receives $5,000 to travel to Spain to learn about Basque cheesemaking. Follow her on Twitter @jessrperrie and look for Jess’s learnings on Basque cheesemaking at the American Cheese Society conference in 2014—where we’ll announce next year’s winner!
Read her full vision here:
Jess Perrie Vision for Daphne Zepos Teaching Award
Spanish Basque heritage is woven into the fabric of the American West, a place that I have called home since 2006. Roughly 57,000 Basque immigrants live in the western states, with 15,000 settling in Idaho alone. This large demographic is a result of a peak in immigration following the California Gold Rush during the 1860s. In lieu of mining, Basque-Americans raised sheep in the open lands of Oregon and southern Idaho, and by 1910, they spread into the western open-range. Basque Americans were shepherds, caring for their flocks and practicing transhumance. Conditions in this area proved quite suitable for the Basque tradition, and their practice of sheepherding was passed down through generations. The roots of Basque heritage guided my application vision when first applying for the DZTA Scholarship. I wanted to explore the connection between Spanish Basque tradition and the American West.
After accepting the DZTA Scholarship, I travelled to Spain to examine Basque cheese, heritage and landscape. With 4,000 years of cheesemaking tradition, the Basque region of Spain was the perfect place to understand their methods and its application to the Western United States. Cheese is an important staple in their diet and transhumance is a way of life in this agricultural society. I remember talking to a cheesemaker in San Sebastian while walking his pastures. “Big farms don’t make cheese like we do in Basque country because sheep eat grains and they’re more stressed, so the milk is weak. My sheep live peaceful lives”. His comments stuck with me. And when I tasted his craft, Idiazabal, his sheep’s peaceful days came to life in a full, balanced blend of hazelnuts, smoke and butter.
Through her endowment, Daphne continued to be a protective, guiding force in the cheese industry. At the end of my Spanish journey, I came home a shepherd, with greater knowledge of land and tradition, in addition to a fabulous new pair of shoes. Thank you Daphne.
President, Daphne Zepos Teaching Award
We’re over halfway to our $250,000 fundraising goal. We still welcome tax-deductible personal donations at our FirstGiving website.