cheesemaker, immigrant, company president.
February 16, 2017 // by Adeline Druart
Nearly 40 years ago, Vermont Creamery Co-Founder, Allison Hooper, traveled to Brittany, France, to learn the craft of cheesemaking. It was her internship on a goat farm there, and in Provence, that fueled her desire to bring great cheese and butter to the American plate and palate.
Fourteen years ago, I started an internship at Vermont Creamery. I was a young, French cheesemaker with a dairy degree who wanted to build experience outside of my country and learn English.
I started wrapping butter, learning English from the Hooper boys and our Plant Manager, Don (not always learning the most appropriate words).
After graduation, I was offered a fulltime position at Vermont Creamery—building our first aged cheese facility. I was 22 at the time, barely speaking English, and an immigrant, starting the most incredible adventure that would surpass my wildest dreams.
I was very fortunate to have the strong support of Bob and Allison, through every step of the immigration process. Thanks to their mentorship and faith in me as a business leader, in October 2015, my own American Dream was realized – I was promoted to President of Vermont Creamery.
I am grateful every day for the opportunity to learn cheesemaking in the U.S. and bring my experience and knowledge developed in my home country, France.
In Vermont and at the Creamery, I never felt like an outsider and I was always welcome; hospitality was offered up freely wherever I went, despite a language barrier and cultural differences.
There is something so special about the Specialty Food Industry and the cheese community especially; perhaps it is because our products are a blend of American traditions with rich European influences.
These products tell our unique stories. They are enriched by the connections we forge with other producers, the bonds we share with our farms and farmers, the relationships we cultivate with purveyors and cheesemongers, many of whom are immigrants themselves.
Today, America is my home, the cheese industry is my community and our employees are my family. We at Vermont Creamery will continue to offer opportunities to talented people regardless of their country of origin or religion. We embrace the diversity that they bring to our workplace and build upon that, because we know that those ideas and experiences will shape the future of the industry and we will be better for it.