The beloved cheese festival returns to New Orleans this fall with competitions, tastings, and a "fromage a trois."

There’s a food festival for everything from natural wines to garlic to fermentation—which is why it should come as zero surprise that cheese, everyone’s favorite animal by-product, has its own celebration in New Orleans on November 16.

Credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer Studio

Fête des Fromages, the brainchild of Murray’s Cheese alumna Liz Thorpe, is a daylong party that will be “entertaining and performative, but also educational.” Guests will have the chance to sample over 150 international and domestic cheeses, as well as cheeses from small producers they might not easily find in grocery stores.

Credit: Carol Costanza Studio

“We’ll have a brass band that winds through the festival that wheels in a wheel of gruyère,” Thorpe says. “We’ll bring the wheel on a stage, where we cut it open and people can taste it as it’s made into three different dishes in a tent next to the stage.”

Fanfare is at the core of the festival; Mason Hereford, of Turkey and the Wolf, will compete against Dan Stein of Stein’s Market and Deli in a race to break down an eighty-pound wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The night before the festival, there’s the "fromage a trois," an event with cheese, cocktails, and cheesy bites from fifteen local chefs.

Credit: Sarah Crowder

For the serious cheese enthusiast, there’s a VIP pairing course, where St. James Cheese Company will serve five of the world’s best cheeses alongside a signature cocktail, but Thorpe hopes the festival will prove just as exciting for novices. She says she’s looking forward to smoked goat’s milk cheeses, which are fairly new to the United States, as well as an alpine style mountain cheese from Pleasant Ridge Reserve in Wisconsin. It’s an opportunity for cheesemakers, winemakers, chefs, and consumers to mingle and bond over their love of dairy, and above all, Thorpe says she’s excited by the opportunity to expose festival goers to makers from countries like Italy, Australia, Portugal, and beyond.

“Part of my job as an educator is to show people the options and let them make their decisions. I’m not the cheese police,” she says.

Tickets for Fête des Fromages can be purchased here.