goat cheese and figs photo goat cheese and figs photo Breakfast of local goat cheese, figs and honey. Israel is a growing producer of artisanal goat cheeses. (Photo: ILEISH ANNA / Shuttershock)

Say cheese: Israel admitted into the International Cheese Makers Guild

Invitation to the guild means Israel's gourmet cheeses may soon be more widely available globally.

The French-based International Cheese Makers Guild, the preeminent authority on gourmet cheeses, has admitted Israel into its fold. The organization welcomes international cheese makers, dairy growers, processors, refiners, traders and retailers, as well as cheese lovers, chefs, restaurant owners, journalists and food critics.

The stinky, gooey and rich gourmet cheeses that generally have been associated with France are now made to excellence in Israel. Induction into the guild opens the door further for the import of world-renowned cheese into Israel, while Israeli gourmet cheese producers also hope to see increased global demand for their domestic products.

Much of the gourmet cheese industry in Israel currently focuses on goat’s milk cheeses, preferred because they can be more easily digestible and tend to be more widely available.

Israel’s Goat Cheese Trail, located in the rural Arava region, includes farms such as Neot Semadar, an environmentally conscious farming community blanketed with olive groves and date stands. Their organic dairy emphasizes the goat’s diet, shunning hormones and antibiotics. Producers like Kornmehl Goat Farm, an off-grid family farm with cheeses described as “personal interpretations of famous French varieties,” also take pride in their ecologically friendly local varietals.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” gastronomist Michal Ansky told Israeli media when she was among the eight Israeli food experts, including cheese importer Nany Seyman and chef Meir Adoni, who were formally presented with membership in the International Cheese Makers Guild earlier this year.

“There is amazing goat cheese produced in Israel, which changes according to seasons," Ansky said. "Thanks to consumer awareness and small boutique dairies that avoid using powdered milk, we are in a respectable place on the global cheese map.”

While recognition by the guild is considered a mark of excellence for Israeli dairy producers, those domestic producers hope to use the recognition to make further inroads into domestic and international markets – meaning Israel's delicious cheeses may soon be available in a fresh-food marketplace near you.


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