Say “cheese,” California cheese that is!

Smoked Burrata cheese. (U.S. Embassy photo)

California Cheese Seminar 2016
Berjaya University College of Hospitality
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Malaysian celebrity chefs present were: Chef Johari (second from left), Chef Florence Tan (third from left) and Chef Zaidah (third from right). Chef Dan Segall, guest American chef for the California cheese promotion (in the black apron). (U.S. Embassy photo)
Malaysian celebrity chefs present were: Chef Johari (second from left), Chef Florence Tan (third from left) and Chef Zaidah (third from right). Chef Dan Segall, guest American chef for the California cheese promotion (in the black apron). (U.S. Embassy photo)

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) export promotion arm for U.S. agricultural products known as the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), represented and based  in Kuala Lumpur, supported a California cheese seminar in collaboration with the California Milk Advisory Board.  There were 60+ participants comprised of distributors and food service stakeholders.  According to 2015 data, California is the United States’ second largest producer of cheese.  California accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s milk production of which 46 percent is made into cheese.   Malaysia imports various cheeses plus cream cheese, yogurt, yogurt products, ice cream and butter evenly split between the retail and food service sectors.

The seminar introduced new California varieties such as Purple Moon Cheese, blue cheese, Aged Cheddar, San Joaquin Gold and fresh mozzarella besides presenting the tried and true Monterey Jack, whole milk mozzarella, White Cheddar and cream cheese already on Malaysian shelves.

Chef Dan Segall demonstrated how to transform hard cheeses so they acquired the consistency of mozzarella that becomes gooey and bubbly rather than runny and oily when heated.  He showed how this method increased versatility so that such cheeses could be used as toppings (pizza cheese), sauces (mac and cheese) or spreads (fondue). The audience watched how to use a cooking blow torch on wine which was folded into melted cheese to impart an enhanced smoky flavor. To top it off, Chef Segall demonstrated how to make “burrata,” a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream as well as smoked blue cheese ice cream.  Thus, creative approaches using California cheeses  boost a renaissance of flavors and varieties.