ROCKVILLE, MD. (July 29, 2013) – For Whole Foods Market cheesemongers, passion for cheese is a natural part of the job. Nadjeeb Chouaf, a cheesemonger at the Charlottesville Whole Foods Market, took it a step further by winning second place in the fourth annual Cheesemonger Invitational earlier this month. Chouaf competed against more than 50 cheesemongers, including three Whole Foods Market Team Members, for the honor.

“I’ve been passionate about cheese since I was young — not only because it’s delicious, but the curiosity that drives me about why it tastes so good,” said Chouaf. “I’ve started teaching cheesemonger classes at Whole Foods Market to share that excitement with our shoppers beyond the conversations we have at the cheese counter every day.”

The Long Island City, NY competition included a written test, blind taste test, plating exercise, sales demonstration, sign creation, cutting, wrapping and a pairing with beer or wine.

Chouaf is not the only cheese lover at Whole Foods Market. This week, the grocer is sending 99 Team Members from across the country to take the second Certified Cheese Professional™ exam at the American Cheese Society conference in Madison, Wisc. Last year for the inaugural exam, the grocer had 70 Team Members pass the test – more than any other retailer. Additionally, two Whole Foods Market Team Members – Leah McFadden and Jason Herbert, will serve as official conference cheesemongers at this year’s event.