Raw Milk and Cheese: the new Master’s at the University of Gastronomic Sciences

The world of raw milk cheese is the theme of new Master’s degree at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo. The Raw Milk and Cheese course, designed together with Slow Food, will start in January 2021, taking one year to complete, during which the students will get to know the entire dairy chain in detail.

“The history of dairy and cheese production is ancient, and inseparably linked to the relationship between people, animals and the environment,” explains Maria Piochi, the course organizer. “With the advent of industrialization, the dairy chain has been standardized, diminishing the strength and relevance of traditional knowledge. The biodiversity of cheeses must be defended and passed down, without forgetting that its protection requires study and the activity of industry professionals.”

Structured according the holistic approach of the University, for the first time a Master’s degree will be divided into four thematic modules. Starting with animals, and their wellbeing, to their zootechnical characteristics and their habitat, the course then covers the phases of milk production, processing into cheese and other dairy products. There’ll of course be particular attention paid to the final part of the process: the sale of the product, and consumer perceptions of the enormous variety of existing products.


“The study trips and the internship are the pivotal moments of our courses,” Piochi explains. During the course, the students will be able to take three study trips. On the first we’ll learn about the differences between industrial and small-scale milk production; in the second, we’ll explore the processing of milk and affinage of cheeses, and in the third we’ll go and experience the life of herders and cheesemakers in the mountains first-hand. The internship, which will last five months, may be done in the place best-adapted to the needs of each student: the idea of doing an internship up in a mountain dairy is by no means excluded, though it could be in a production company like a dairy, a house of affinage, or other pastoral or zootechnical situations.”

As well as learning in the field, which is a fundamental aspect of all the courses of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the students will be able to learn from international academic experts who work at the highest level. The transversal subjects, which are covered in every course, are environmental sustainability and economic sustainability, the study of the circular economy and, no less important, the ability to taste, recognize and promote products starting from their flavor.

“The career opportunities opened up by this Master’s degree are numerous,” Piochi concludes. “From working as a cheesemaker able to produce sustainability to the field of affinage, from farming to educating, or becoming a marketing expert in the dairy sector. In general, however, the objective is to create gastronomes who can work in diverse areas of the dairy sector with a deep knowledge of production techniques and the commercial trade. For this reason the collaboration with Slow Food is fundamental because it allows us to have a close relationship with the network of producers and cheesemakers, as well as an immense heritage of knowledge and skills.”

by Annalisa Audino, a.audino@slowfood.it


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