They are called Marie, Marie-Anne as well as Sanae and Betty. These are names of professional women in the fascinating world of cheese: the so-called fromagers-affineurs (cheese maturers).
They only sell handcrafted cheeses from small, local producers. Their ‘artisanship’ can be found in the way they treat the cheeses in their own basements or climate cells and let them ripen. This painstaking process should ensure the right taste, texture, maturity and character of the cheese. It is the craft of refining.
Marie is Marie Quatrehomme of the fromagerie of the same name in Rue des Sévres (7th). Since 2000, she may call herself Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF). MOF stands for best crafts worker of France. It is France’s highest recognition a person can achieve in a certain craft. Every three years, winners of regional competitions can compete for this title in a national competition. Fellow experts assess the competence tests of the candidates. This tradition to keep up French expertise and quality dates from 1924 and now consists of more than 200 crafts.
The full name of Marie-Anne is Marie-Anne Cantin. She succeeded her father, who founded Maison Cantin on the Rue du Champs de Mars (7th) in 1950. As fromager affineur, she already founded an association committed to the development and production of raw-milk cheeses in the traditional way in the eighties of the last century. You can see her name on various packaging. A selection of cheeses is even for sale in a special Marie-Anne Cantin box in the stores of department store Monoprix.
Sanae stands for Sanae Hisada: a Japanese woman who launched her first cheese shop in Tokyo. By now, she has an international cheese web shop for the Japanese market, as well as a shop on the Rue Richelieu (1st) in Paris. More than six years ago, the French Guilde de Fromagers awarded her the title of Maître Fromager.
French cheese has penetrated the international market, but France as well clearly has become more international. Do not be surprised to find Dutch cheese from Holland’s best female expert, Betty Koster of l’Amuse, in a Paris fromagerie.