Coffee With...Richard Peterson, Maitre Fromager

Jelinek joins Easter Seals Inc.
Laura Metcalf Jelinek has been hired as director of meetings, conferences and travel for Easter Seals Inc., a Chicago-based organization that offers services to individuals with disabilities. Most recently, Jelinek served as associate executive director of meetings and exhibitions for continuing education at the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, based in Rosemont, Ill.

Tench chairs MPI Membership Advisory Council

Erin Tench, CMM, CMP, and president of Hyland Events, a Washington, D.C.-based event management company, has been appointed chair of Meeting Professionals International’s International Membership Advisory Council for 2008-2009. Tench also serves as president of MPI’s Connecticut River Valley Chapter.

Barnhart moves to AMSA

Jaime Barnhart, CMP, has been named director of conferences for the American Moving & Storage Association, based in Alexandria, Va. Her responsibilities include handling the logistics for AMSA’s Annual Education Conference & Expo and supporting the association’s annual National Safety Conference and recurring regional training events. Prior to the move, Barnhart managed the annual meeting of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, headquartered in Arlington, Va.

The Irving (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau has named Eric Arthur convention services and housing manager and Monty White marketing manager.
Patrick Cook has been named director of sales and marketing for the 560-room InterContinental Chicago O’Hare, which opens Sept. 3 in Rosemont, Ill.
Steve Crist has been appointed vice president of group and convention sales for the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.

If you would like notice of a career move considered for inclusion in this column, contact Kaylee Hultgren, People Page, M&C, 100 Lighting Way, Secaucus, N.J. 07094; fax: (201) 902-2032; e-mail:

Richard Peterson 
“My goal is to make the cheese program accessible, not snobby, and enjoyable for all.”

Richard Peterson, a self-taught guru of artisanal cheeses, is the resident maître fromager, or cheese master, at the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. He has been featured on CNN and HGTV, and his work has set the standard for Gaylord’s foray into artisanal cheese presentation.

How did you get into cheese? It started when I decided to get more serious about my career. The obvious path was through wine, to become a sommelier, but then I had a classic tableside experience with cheese that really impressed me. So I began to self-study and tasted as much as I could. Then Gaylord launched a cheese program. Right away I began to campaign for myself as the right guy for the job.

How do you spend your day? Cheese is a living, breathing creature that needs a lot of TLC, so monitoring the cheeses takes up a lot of my time. Also, I have two beautiful cheese trolleys to set up.

What is your biggest challenge? We are a huge hotel, so the size of the facility alone is a challenge. And we service a very diverse group of clients. My goal is to make the cheese program accessible, not snobby, and enjoyable for all of them.

What’s next? We’re going to custom-build our own cheese caves, so I’ll be able to do my own aging. This year I got the level-one sommelier certification, so I’ll want to continue with that. And I hope to get to Europe soon.