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Thornbury store manager slices with the Big Cheeses in first Canadian Cheesemonger comp

Cheese Gallery manager will champion Ontario cheese on a national stage at the May 15 event

Anyway you slice it, Sarah McNulty will brie a champion for Ontario dairy this week and beyond as she brings her favourite cheeses to the plate to compete for the title of Canadian Cheesemonger. 

McNulty is the manager at the Cheese Gallery in Thornbury, and is also one of six finalists to qualify for the Best Canadian Cheesemonger 2024 inaugural biennial competition in Montreal. 

A cheesemonger refers to a merchant who sells cheese, and it also denotes expertise in purchasing, selecting, storing, and flavour profiles of cheese.

While in Montreal, McNulty will continue to spread the love she has for Ontario cheeses, a small wheel in a big fridge. 

"We are not like Europe and Quebec. In Ontario we don't have generational cheese making like they do," McNulty said, noting the artisanal cheeses made in Ontario deserve more respect. 

Often, without a generation to carry on cheese making, the cheese retires with its maker. 

"It's tragic to see a cheese disappear," McNulty said.

McNulty will now have an opportunity to give Ontario cheese a boost as she takes it to the national competition in Montreal on May 15 as the only contestant from Ontario. 

The competition is hosted in partnership with SIAL Canada and includes four challenges: a blind tasting, a persuasive presentation to a jury, a knowledge test, and an original creation of an artistic cheese platter on the theme of World Cities. 

"It was not my intention to throw my hat into the ring. I made a last-minute application," said McNulty.

The winner of the Canadian Cheesemonger competition will represent the nation at the World Cheese Awards in Tours, France, in September 2025. 

"I absolutely think she's going to be a competitor," said Casey Thomson, owner of The Cheese Gallery. "She's the dark horse. They don't know her. The cheese world is very Quebec-focused so I think someone from Ontario brings a different flavour.

"We are a small shop in a small town going to a big competition in a big city."

McNulty has worked at The Cheese Gallery for five-and-half years, and Thomson said McNulty has a lot of knowledge and creativity.

For the persuasive presentation challenge, McNulty aims to convince the jury that Ontario cheeses deserve a place on the board.

"I'll be representing Ontario and the farms I work with. We want to give Quebec some competition," she said. 

McNulty's two children are determined their mom will win the Canadian competition because they want to go to France, she joked.

"I would love to go to France but am I counting on it? No. At this point, there is nothing to lose,"  she said.

What she hopes to gain from the competition is to expand her network in the industry and see where she ranks among her peers.

The unique competition is a way to elevate the burgeoning Canadian cheesemonger profession and showcase the talent of the top professionals.

Thomson said as a female entrepreneur, it's fulfilling to see her staff go to the national stage. 

"I'm so proud of her – to see her come into a job that grows into a career – for me this is the greatest thing ever," said Thomson.

The Cheese Gallery has been in business for more than 10 years and is located at 11 Bruce St. S. in Thornbury. 

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Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
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