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How would you improve local cheese scene?

Slow Food Pittsburgh's "Better Cheese for Pittsburgh" program is for the third year offering a cash award to help improve the local cheese scene, but this time the group is lifting up not the people who make cheese, but the people who sell it.

The region's cheesemongers are invited to submit two-page essays that explain "Why sending me to the 2014 American Cheese Society conference will mean better local cheese for Pittsburgh." Once again, entries will be judged by nationally known cheesemakers, mongers and others, and the winner will get the money to attend the national gathering and competition in Sacramento, Calif., in July (cheesesociety.org/conference/2014-conference).

Essays must be emailed by May 15 to Slow Food's Susan Barclay at stbarclay13@verizon.net.

For each of the past two years, the effort has given the stipends to four cheesemakers and is taking a different tack to let those cheesemakers to ripen a bit longer. As Slow Food's Virginia Phillips put it in a news release, cheesemongers, "who make it their business to track down emerging artisan products -- showcasing, mentoring and partnering -- can be the super-connectors between small creameries and their markets."

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