Grand Illusion Hard Cider, an urban cidery and wine bar located in downtown Carlisle Pennsylvania, has become the 6th in the nation to have 100% of its front-of-house staff certified as Cider Certified Professionals (CCP). The certification—the first ever cider accreditation program—is administered by the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM). It is designed for distributors, chefs, servers and others who are interested in becoming experts on all things cider.
“It has been a long time coming, but we are more than thrilled,” noted Chad Kimmel, owner of Grand Illusion, along with his wife, Andrea. “It was our intention from the very beginning to have our staff educated and certified so that they could share this knowledge with our guests. It becomes part of our Unique Selling Proposition,” Kimmel added. Grand Illusion’s staff was trained by Michelle McGrath, USACM’s Executive Director, and Jennie Dorsey, Chief Cider Curator at Schilling Cider. The presentations were made into booklets, which were then printed and bound and distributed to all staff, along with other assembled documents and reading suggestions. Once prepared, all staff took and passed a 60 question, 60-minute exam. Passing was with an 85% or higher. Grand Illusion’s average score? 93%! Exam content areas fell into six categories: Apples, the orchard & history; Cider making; Flavor & evaluation; Cider styles; Keeping & serving; and Food & Cider.
While Grand Illusion was the 6th in the nation to reach this achievement, they were the 1st in Pennsylvania. “We make it our mission to promote Pennsylvania cider,” Kimmel stated, “and by becoming CCPs, we help the state’s growing cider industry by educating people and turning them on to a very tasty, value added, agricultural product.” Pennsylvania is the nation’s 5th largest apple producer.
Grand Illusion produces four flagship ciders: Blue Illusion (blueberry lavender); Street Magic (hopped grapefruit); Mystic Pineapple (hopped pineapple); and Hocus Hibiscus (strawberry hibiscus lemonade). Their ciders are currently self-distributed in 12oz cans and kegs in Pennsylvania.
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