AUSTIN, Texas (January 16, 2006) Whole Foods Market's Global Cheese Buyer Cathy Strange will be honored this Saturday with an induction into the distinguished international Guilde des Fromagers de Saint-Uguzon, the most celebrated association of cheesemongers and specialists in France. She will be one of very few Americans inducted into the prestigious guild of cheese trade professionals, recognized for comprehensive knowledge and attention to the merits of French cheese.

The nonprofit Guilde des Fromagers was founded in 1969 to safeguard and promote quality cheeses with a goal to create synergy around cheese production and to promote cheese consumption. The association's focus is to “perpetuate traditional, quality manufacturing methods and to ensure the continued production of cheeses potentially threatened by extinction.” Prospective members must be in a profession closely linked to the cheese sector and be sponsored by two active members. Candidates must also prove themselves worthy of ascending to the rank of “Prud'homme” (second level) and then “Ma?tre-fromger” (first level).

Strange has nearly 30 years of food industry experience behind her with 14 of those years at Whole Foods Market. As the Global Cheese Buyer, she has become an expert at detecting international food trends during her travels around the world while seeking out vendor partners that meet Whole Foods Market's strict quality standards.

“I am honored to be considered an ambassador of traditional French cheese in the United States. This is a reflection of Whole Foods Market's overall commitment to the tradition and history of cheeses and shows quite a significant level of respect for the cheese program that we have built,” said Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market global cheese buyer. “When I travel, I try to learn as much as I can about the product, farmers, organizations, and people in those regions. This is a wonderful validation — especially having been brought into the Guild directly to the second level — that I am able to communicate this care and passion to our Team Members and shoppers.”

The induction ceremony will be held in San Francisco on Saturday, January 21, during the Guild's first West Coast Chapter meeting at 6 p.m. at a ceremony at the home of the Consul Général de France, Frédéric Desagneaux.