The line to get in was curled around the block.
Twentysomethings in fox-print shirts and retro sunglasses checked their phones nervously. It was the hottest event in Brooklyn on a Saturday afternoon. But it wasn't a club or a trendy new restaurant opening.
It was a festival dedicated to all things cheese.
What rhymes with cheese?
The Cheesemonger Invitational (CMI) began as an industry event for producers, importers and sellers of cheese.
Its founder, Adam Moskowitz, is the third-generation owner of a cheese importing company. He's also a part-time rapper who likes to wear a cow costume -- complete with a giant bell around his neck -- when he emcees the CMI.
Originally, the CMI was an industry hangout at Moskowitz's company, Larkin's, a cheese-storage facility.
Now, it's a full-on biannual festival (summers in Brooklyn; winters in San Francisco) that filled the Brooklyn Expo Center event space to capacity in July 2018.
"I'm a guy who went to Burning Man and thought, 'I need to bring this feeling back with me.' " Moskowitz told CNN Travel. "I've always been a promoter. I wanted to throw a cheese rave, but that didn't fly as a concept, so it became a deeply appreciated industry event."
From cheese loving to monging
In addition to simply being a place for members of the cheese community to catch up with each other, the festival is a place to learn about new cheeses and industry trends. It's also an event to give cheesemongers and shop owners a chance to teach and share their knowledge with the public.
This year, beyond cheese-tasting booths, there were giveaway T-shirts and tote bags, freely-flowing wine and beer, and even a guy who bills himself as a "cheese artist" hawking his oil portraits of elegant slabs of cheddar and Camembert.
While the main event at CMI is the crowning of a champion cheesemonger, Moskowitz also wants to de-mystify fromage and make it something that everybody can enjoy eating without feeling intimidated.
"Cheesemongers are my best friends. Cheese is a gateway to a better world."
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