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Spain ’s “Cheese Ambassador”
Enric Canut is a man with a mission…to preserve the regional cheeses of Spain. These national treasures were nearly lost in the late 1960’s and early 70’s as mass marketed processed cheeses began to creep into Spanish cheese shops. Canut saw a way to rejuvenate Spain’s agricultural economy while rescuing the country’s thousand year-old cheese making traditions. Step one: preserve the quality and character of these cheeses. Step two: create a market for them outside their regions of origin, and eventually, beyond the borders of Spain. He’s succeeding on both fronts.
Canut is well-known in Spain and a respected authority worldwide on the subject of cheeses from Spain. He has spent a lifetime learning and teaching about the more than one hundred varieties of Spanish cheese. Trained as an Agricultural Engineer specializing in milks and cheeses, Canut spent over 10 years traveling across Spain (the first few years in his hand-cranked Citroën) advising small cheese producers and cataloging regional cheeses and their makers. He was instrumental in developing the European Union’s Spanish “Denominación de Origen” (D.O.) code that regulates where and how specific cheeses must be made.
Canut is also a cheese maker, a contributing writer to many Spanish language epicurean publications, and author of a number of well-regarded Spanish books on cheeses and cheese making in that country. He is responsible for the commercial establishment of Garrotxa, a favorite of cutting-edge chefs the world over and the development of several new cheeses, including the wildly popular Murcia al Vino, more commonly known in the United States by its brand name “Drunken Goat.”
Canut has just completed a coast-to-coast tour of the US on behalf of the Trade Commission of Spain and APQE, the Association for the Promotion of Spanish Cheeses. During the tour he conducted training sessions for retail cheese managers, distributors and importers, consumer events including a sold-out evening of cheese tasting and commentary at the famed Zingerman’s delicatessen in Ann Arbor Michigan, and media presentations and interviews with Food & Wine Magazine, Sunset, Better Homes & Gardens and more.
He speaks frequently in Spain and the U.S. on television, radio, and at gastronomic events. At Alimentaria, Spain’s bi-annual food show and gastronomic extravaganza, Canut organizes the “ Spain, Land of 100 Cheeses” exhibit featuring those one hundred cheeses along with different tapas made with each and every one. “It’s quite an undertaking,” he sighs. “It’s a good thing the show is only every other year.” He and wife Georgina make their home in Barcelona.