Maître fromager (Cheese Master) Afrim Pristine delivers years of experience in affinage, a practice handed down through the family business, Cheese Boutique.
Private cheese education from on-the-job training and trips, to local and not-so-local farms, has built Afrim’s foundation of knowledge. Many touchstones guided vocation such as an invitation by Switzerland Cheese to study and learn the process from one of the oldest and most renowned Cheesemakers in the world. Afrim’s education cultivates an encyclopedic recall with passionate delivery.
On Feb 19, 2013, Afrim’s distinctions and accolade pinnacled for the 32-year-old cheesemonger, who was inducted as the world’s youngest “maître fromager” (Cheese Master) by the France-based Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, an exclusive association representing more than 5,000 cheese wonks around the world.
Prior to that achievement, Afrim was also the youngest recipient among a small group of Canadians to receive a distinction of “Chevalier” from the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste Fromage de France (March 2007) by the same governing body. A humbling honour and affirmation of skill and expertise that in our tech heavy culture is an about-face among an X-generation. In 2010, in Vancouver, he was inducted to Officer.
Local accolades include OHI’s top 30 under 30. Presently inducted into OHI’s Fellowship alumni, he represents the dairy/cheese industry as ambassador through various media outlets.
As owner of Cheese Boutique a focus on building the retail business has evolved into unique sold out event presentations themed around Afrim’s favourite youthful comic book pastime and a partime alter ego, Batman. (Afrim afterall can say he has his own cave!) Heroes Vs. Villains (2014) expanded into a partnership and Brand Advocate with Samuel Adam’s Brewery for The League of Extraordinary Chefs (2015) that invited top chefs locally and abroad to showcase one-of-a-kind dishes. Amidst entertaining activities the venues are designed to showcase Afrim’s collaboration with culinary talent.
Media Appearances: Regular guest for Food Network specialty shows such as “The Heat” with Mark McEwan, “Restaurant Takeover” and “Chef in Your Ear.” Christine Cushing plus morning wakeup calls on CityTV’s Breakfast Television. Canada AM, Yahoo Canada and 1010 Newstalks, Let’s Eat! with Zane Caplansky. Top 100 restaurants Canada judge. DineTO featurette.
Serial appearances: Marilyn Denis Live (seasonal segments commenced, 2013 to present, Restaurant Makeover, Rich Bride Poor Bride, Gemini Awards (Tom Green live in the Green Room) and Cityline, CBC- Steven & Chris, Business News Network. CBC Radio 1-Metro Morning, Rita Demontis - Sirius Publications: The Grid, Toronto Life, Food and Drink (LCBO), Globe & Mail, Maclean’s, Toronto Star.
Afrim is now in the workshop developing a book to be published by Random/Penguin House, release date, 2017.
Expanded portfolio: includes participating in a variety of local gastro events throughout the years be it charity or educational functions to lend his expertise and consultation. Includes but is not limited to:
Seafood for Thought – Toronto Zoo (2010-2013), Vinefera: Women in Capital Markets (2001- 2008), Events for “The Stop Community” (2004-2008), Chefs for Change (2015, 2016), Toronto Taste (2006-2015), Providence Healthcare (2001-2009), Humber Hospital (Gala Opening 2015), Villa Charities, Monthly cheese classes at LCBO Kingsway & Summerhill, Classes at George Brown College, Local charities , Private Event Cheese Tasting for Bruce Springsteen, Brad Pitt and many more (TIFF), Consult for Master Chef - Canada (CTV), Chopped Canada (Food Network), and Top Chef Canada
Through Cheese Boutique, Afrim’s role as “Cheese Keeper” involves a direct relationship with some of Toronto’s finest restaurants and prestigious clientele, including:
Canoe, Nota Bene, Auberge de Pommier, Trump Hotel, Drake Hotel, Black Hoof, Splendido, Shangri-La, Buca, Bar Isabel, Pizzeria Libretto, North 44, Four Seasons, Scaramouche, Langdon Hall, Momofuku, Collaborated with Daniel Boulud and Massimo Bottura, cheese tastings for Michael Jordan and Jake Gyllenhall...and many other fine establishments.
Afrim has also co-written a cheese certification program at George Brown Culinary College--one of three educational programs on the continent. Taught the 2013 summer and fall sessions.
TIFF--During the Toronto Film Festival season, the parties are catered daily by Cheese Boutique, with Afrim in attendance to interact and serve.
Preferred Cheeses: Majestic Henry, Lankaaster, Niagara Gold, Comte, Époisses, La Sauvagine, Bleu D’auverge, Pouligny St. Pierre, Rocamadour, Brind’amour, Cantal, Ossau Iraty .
Favorite pass-time: Furthering food education, Cooking, travelling, collecting wine
Decoration: Chevalier - French Order of Cheese
--Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste Fromage de France.
More than just cheese, Afrim’s knowledge extends to many other gastromic delights overseen at Cheese Boutique encompassing a global perspective on how and why we mix and match the things we eat.
Personal tours of the shop to Master Chefs: Alain Ducasse, Albert Adria and Magnus Nilsson, David Chang and David Kinch.