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Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program Announces 2014 Graduates

With its 2014 graduating class, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program celebrates 20 years of providing the nation’s only advanced training course of its kind for veteran cheesemakers. This year’s class includes four new Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers and three veteran Masters who repeated the program to earn certification in additional cheese varieties.

The four new Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers are:

  • Mike Brennenstuhl, Great Lakes Cheese Seymour, Inc., Seymour, Wis., certified for Blue and Gorgonzola
  • Pat Doell, Agropur, Inc., Luxemburg, certified for Mozzarella and Provolone
  • Brian Renard, Renard’s Rosewood Dairy/Renard’s Cheese, Algoma, Wis., certified for Cheddar and Colby
  • Chris Renard, Renard’s Rosewood Dairy/Renard’s Cheese, Algoma, Wis., certified for Cheddar and Mozzarella

Returning graduates in the 2014 class are:

  • Mark Gustafson, Sartori Company, Plymouth, Wis., now certified for Fontina and Romano, as well as Parmesan and Asiago
  • Paul Reigle, Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, now certified for Cheddar in addition to Yogurt Cheese and Monterey Jack
  • Bruce Workman, Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, now certified for Cheddar and Gouda in addition to Baby Swiss, Brick, Butterkäse, Emmental, Gruyère, Havarti, Muenster, Raclette and Specialty Swiss (low-sodium, low-fat lacy Swiss).

The graduates will be honored and presented with Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker medallions at a ceremony during the International Cheese Technology Exposition in Milwaukee on April 24.

“We congratulate the 2014 graduates and are proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this unique program. Those who have earned the title of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker have such a dedication to their craft and pride in what they’ve achieved,” says James Robson, CEO of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “The impact of the program on them personally, as well as on their companies and the Wisconsin cheese industry has been immeasurable.”

Established in 1994 through a joint partnership of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, UW-Extension and WMMB, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program is the most formalized, advanced training program in the nation. Patterned after European programs, it is administered by the Center for Dairy Research and funded by Wisconsin dairy producers, through WMMB. Applicants to the program must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years of experience. Cheesemakers can earn certification in up to two cheese varieties each time they enroll in the three-year program and must have been making those varieties as a licensed cheesemaker for a minimum of five years prior to entering the program. Once certified, they’re entitled to use the distinctive Master’s Mark® on their product labels and in other marketing materials.

 

Graeter’s Ice Cream Releases New Product Lines

Family-owned Graeter’s Ice Cream is releasing its first completely new product lines in 144 years this spring.  Graeter’s Gelato and “A Little Less Indulgent” lines are made with the same high quality ingredients and attention to detail as Graeter’s original flavors, but offer a new spin on the traditional recipe.

The new product lines will be launched at select grocery stores, but available to all online at graeters.com.

Graeter’s Gelato

Graeter’s signature French Pot process that makes its ice cream so dense and creamy was actually based on Italian gelato machines, making its Gelato the most authentic Italian gelato available in the United States. Using this old-world freezing process, Graeter’s artisans create the hand-crafted gelato using specially made truffles from a family owned candy confectioner in Pennsylvania. Flavors include Caramel Truffle, Hazelnut Truffle, Vanilla with Milk Chocolate Truffles and Dark Chocolate Truffle.

A Little Less Indulgent

A Little Less Indulgent stands apart from other reduced sugar ice cream varieties thanks to the sweetness provided by a natural sugar substitute made from Monk fruit extract. The new line has 50 percent less sugar, roughly 25 percent less fat and 25 percent fewer calories than Graeter’s regular ice cream, making it a just little less indulgent while retaining all the flavor of Graeter’s traditional ice cream. Flavors include Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Chip and Mint Chocolate Chip.

Hood Cottage Cheese Introduces New Garden-Inspired Flavors

Hood®, a leading dairy brand in New England, is welcoming spring in New England with the launch of two new flavor additions to the Hood Cottage Cheese family: Cucumber and Dill and Garden Vegetables. An excellent source of protein and a good source of calcium, Hood Cottage Cheese is a healthy and versatile food that can be enjoyed as a snack, a recipe ingredient, a topping or as a dip.
“We’re thrilled to add two delicious new cottage cheese flavors to the Hood family of products,” said Sarah Barow, Hood spokesperson. “Our new Cucumber Dill and Garden Vegetable flavors bring the fresh taste of spring to a healthy snack or meal.”
The new flavors, Cucumber and Dill and Garden Vegetables, are a good source of calcium, and contain 13 grams of protein per serving (26 percent of the recommended daily value).
“Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, which plays a key role in eating satisfaction and may help with weight control,” said Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D. and the Hood Answer Mom™. “What I really love about cottage cheese is how easy it is to incorporate into regular meal planning. Hood’s savory cottage cheese is delicious on its own, and is a great ingredient in many different dishes.”
Hood Cottage Cheese with Cucumber and Dill and Hood Cottage Cheese with Garden Vegetables are now available at major grocery stores across New England. To learn more about Hood Cottage Cheese, visit Hood.com or become a fan at Facebook.com/HPHood.

Castleton Crackers’ Governor’s Cheddar Named sofi Finalist

Castleton Crackers has been named a Finalist in the Outstanding Cracker category for its Governor’s Cheddar cracker in the Specialty Food Association’s 2014 sofi™ Award competition.

A sofi is the top honor in the $88 billion specialty food industry. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and represents the best of the best from members of the Specialty Food Association

The Governor’s Cheddar Crackers were one of 109 finalists selected by a national panel of specialty food professionals from 2,025 entries across 30 Award categories from Outstanding Appetizer to Outstanding Vinegar. Winners will be announced by noted chef Dominique Ansel at a red-carpet ceremony June 30, 2014, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.

We are thrilled that the Governor’s Cheddar Crackers made it to the finals among such worthy competition,” says Whitney Lamy, Founder of Castleton Crackers. “This is a delicious combination of Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company’s award-winning Governor’s Cheddar cheese and my artisan cracker recipe,” says Lamy, who started working with VFCC in January of 2013. Whitney’s complete Castleton Cracker line is sold at grocery and specialty stores throughout the country and online at castletoncrackers.com.

“A sofi is the highest honor for products from our members, who bring craft, care and joy to the specialty food they create. The honor means the product is simply the best in its category,” says Specialty Food Association President Ann Daw.

The sofi Awards are open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs with more than 3,000 members in the U.S. and abroad. For more information on the association and its Fancy Food Shows, go to specialtyfood.com. Learn more about the 2014 sofi Awards at specialtyfood.com/sofi.

Arthur Schuman Becomes Exclusive Importer and Distributor of Dodoni Greek Cheeses in the U.S.

Arthur Schuman Inc., an importer and distributor of domestic hard cheeses, has partnered with the Greek Company Dodoni SA, establishing the company as the exclusive importer and distributor of Dodoni SA Products in the U.S. Dodoni is widely recognized around the world for its P.D.O. (Protected Destination of Origin) feta cheese and other Greek dairy products. The partnership between the two dairy companies provides the U.S. market with widespread access to these premium authentic Greek products.

“As a company that prides itself on importing the best cheeses and working with the strongest and most sustainable companies, Dodoni SA is a natural fit for us,” explained Neal Schuman, President and Owner of Arthur Schuman, a fourth generation family business. “We believe Dodoni, and particularly its P.D.O. feta cheese, will thrive in the US market.”

Dodoni cheese and dairy products are currently available for order from Arthur Schuman and requests from customers across retail, foodservice and industrial markets may be placed starting immediately. The products will be available at major club stores with national reach, with additional outlets to follow.

Arthur Shuman and its distribution network will be targeting all channels of distribution, in particular those customers who demand and appreciate the best quality cheeses.

TEA-RRIFIC! ICE CREAM Now in New England Whole Foods Markets

TEA•RRIFIC! ICE CREAM® ice cream is now available at most Whole Foods Market locations throughout New England. The following flavors will be available – Chunky London Mist, Ginger Matcha, Masala Chai and Chamomile.

Mario Leite, President and Founder of TEA•RRIFIC! ICE CREAM stated, “We are very excited to extend our relationship with a partner such as Whole Foods Market which maintains such high standards in its product selection, and to have the opportunity to share our distinctly delicious ice cream with their customers throughout New England.”

To find a location near you, visit the company website at http://tearrificicecream.com/where-to-find/.

American Cheese Society Calls for Entries in 2014 Competition

The American Cheese Society (ACS) today announces its Call for Entries for the 2014 Judging & Competition. This annual judging of American cheeses and cultured dairy products takes place July 27 and 28, 2014, at the Sacramento Convention Center in Sacramento, Calif., immediately prior to the 31st Annual ACS Conference, Celebrating the American Cheese Plate, which will be held from July 29 to August 1 in Sacramento.

The largest competition of its kind, the ACS Judging & Competition saw a record 1,794 entries in 2013, submitted by 257 cheesemakers. As the ACS Judging & Competition returns to California for the first time in more than ten years, participation in 2014 is expected to be stronger than ever. The ACS Judging & Competition Committee has enlisted 38 renowned judges from around the world to evaluate products across 106 different categories. The Judging & Competition recognizes cheeses of the highest quality for their aesthetic and technical merits. Awards for first, second and third places are given to the cheeses which receive the highest scores in their category, based on a minimum point threshold. After two intense days of judging, first-place winners in each category are evaluated together, and a “Best of Show” is chosen. Winners will be revealed at the annual ACS Awards Ceremony on Thursday, July 31 in Sacramento.

The 2014 Call for Entries is open through Friday, May 16. The entry fee for each product is $60 through May 9. From May 10 to May 16, the entry fee will increase to $85. ACS is accepting entries via its dedicated online entry site, www.cheesejudging.com. Producers can log into the site to enter new products, or to view previous year’s entries and make edits or additions for 2014.

Registration for the ACS Annual Conference opens May 5, 2014. Individuals who purchase a full conference registration or a Thursday Day Pass can attend the ACS Awards Ceremony on July 31. Individual tickets to the Awards Ceremony may also be purchased by ACS members beginning on May 5.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the 2014 ACS Conference & Competition by volunteering (all volunteers receive one complimentary ticket to the Festival of Cheese), purchasing tickets to the Festival of Cheese, and attending the annual Cheese Sale. The Cheese Sale, on August 2, offers the opportunity to purchase artisan cheeses at incredible prices, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation. Those interested in volunteering must be 18 years of age or older, and are encouraged to sign up for a variety of shifts and events at http://www.cheesesociety.org/conference/volunteer/.

For more information about the 2014 ACS Conference & Competition, visit the ACS website.

Spring Green Wisconsin Colby wins Best in Class at 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest

Arena Cheese’s Spring Green Colby won Best of Class at the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest.   Team Arena, led by Cheesemaker Bill Hanson, will be proud to accept the medal and blue ribbon at the awards banquet to recognize this team’s continual striving for excellence.   “We are honored to be recognized as the best among so many fine cheesemakers who make Colby.  We’ve been making authentic Colby cheese traditionally for over 15 years,” stated Bill Hanson, a Wisconsin cheesemaker for over 25 years.   The World Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical evaluation of cheese and butter in the world. This year, 2,615 entries from 22 countries were entered into 90 categories.

The story of Colby Cheese is one of American ingenuity and abundance of quality ingredients.  In 1885, a cheesemaker by the name of Joseph P. Steinwand in the Wisconsin town of Colby was working on a cow’s milk Cheddar cheese in his creamery.   He experimented by washing his curds in cold water. This slight change in the cheese making process created a new cheese that was like Cheddar but creamier, softer and with a milder, more buttery flavor…the cheese we now enjoy as Colby.

Spring Green Colby cheese, crafted  in Arena, Wisc. by Arena Cheese, garnered another high honor by being re-certified for an additional year under the BRC Global Food Standards guidelines with an A rating, the highest possible, as part of the Global Food Safety initiative.  “As retailers and consumers are demanding more safety in the food we eat, Arena Cheese is proud to be working at the very highest standards and for being acknowledged for this effort,” says Cheesemaker Bill Hanson.

Arena has earned 13 national awards since 2002 and took home an award this year for Fresh Cheddar Curds in addition to the Best in Class award earned by the Spring Green Colby. In total, 257 cheese companies entered 1,794 different products for judging.

Arena Cheese is one of Wisconsin’s oldest cheese plants.  This creamery is located in the Wisconsin River Valley within the lush, green rolling hills of the Spring Green area, made famous by visionary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright as well as by Arena’s delicious cheeses.   Arena Cheese also makes deli horn mild Gouda, a natural hardwood Smoked Gouda and longhorn and deli horns of Colby/Jack.

 

Americans Travel to Great Britain One Cheese at a Time

By Lucas Witman

From the royal wedding to the London Olympics and from Harry Potter to Downton Abbey, British culture has never been more popular in the United States than it is today. Americans seem positively poised to pounce on any book, movie, television show or event emblazoned with the Union Jack or featuring iconic Briticisms. Once much maligned on this side of the Atlantic, British foods have not escaped the U.K. invasion, including what has perhaps become the most sought after British food staple in the United States: cheese. Today, shoppers at any artisan cheese shop in the United States or even any grocery store specialty cheese case can choose among a wide variety of British offerings.

When it comes to bringing British cheeses to the U.S. market, companies in the United Kingdom must navigate several particular challenges. Perhaps the biggest technical challenge British cheese producers face in exporting their products to this country concerns the different standards for the use of antibiotics that are in place in the United States and Europe. In Great Britain, a farmer can use antibiotics to treat a sick animal, but that animal must then be quarantined for several months before it can be allowed back into the herd. In the United States, once treated with antibiotics, the animal must be permanently removed from the herd. Some British cheese companies have overcome this disparity in standards by raising two separate herds, one producing milk for cheeses to be consumed domestically and one producing milk for cheeses intended for export to the United States.

Beyond the technical issues facing British cheese exports, however, there are a host of other adaptations companies in the United Kingdom must make in order to effectively reach out to American consumers. The Irish Dairy Board found this out when it first began selling its Pilgrim’s Choice line, one of the most popular cheese lines in Great Britain, in the United States.

“A key headline for our business is that U.S. Consumers want to know where the product comes from,” said Conor O’Donovan, Category Sales Manager for U.K. Cheese at the Irish Dairy Board. “While Pilgrim’s Choice as a brand name has strong resonance in the U.K., it was relatively meaningless in the U.S. so it was important to define the origin of the cheese and find a name that resonates for the consumer.” By changing the name of the cheese line to Londoner and placing a Union Jack prominently on the label, the company found that it was finally able to effectively market its cheeses to U.S. consumers.

Another part of successfully marketing British specialty foods in the United States is learning about and responding to uniquely American trends. According to Nicola Turner Export Director for Kingdom British Organic Heritage Cheeses, perhaps the biggest American trend to which her company has been forced to adapt is the U.S. local products movement.

“In the U.S., there is very much a drive for local and supporting local,” said Turner. “In the U.K., this exists too but imported specialty cheeses offer something different. It’s about discovery—allowing you to experience a new place, a new culture from your own four walls.”

Turner also noted that cheese consumption in the United States is tied to wine consumption in a way that does not necessarily translate to the British marketplace. “There seems to be far more focus on wine pairings in the U.S. It does happen in the U.K., but in the U.S. you guys take it to another level,” she said. “In the U.K. … there isn’t this whole culture of matching wines. That’s something that I’ve had to get up to speed with quickly here.”

Still, despite a variety of cultural differences separating U.S. and U.K. consumers, British cheese companies have found that when it comes to the consumer flavor palate, there is relatively little difference between the two countries. “What we’ve found is that flavor profiles that develop in the U.K. are a good benchmark of what’s coming to the U.S.,” said O’Donovan. “We find that whatever flavor profile is becoming big in the U.K., generally America will follow. That’s been our experience,” said O’Donovan.

Richard Newton-Jones, Commercial Director for Welsh cheesemaker Snowdonia Cheese Company echoes O’Donovan’s observations, arguing that as Americans taste his company’s cheeses, the varieties and flavors that they most respond to are the same varieties and flavors that are the company’s biggest sellers in Great Britain. Although not yet commercially available in the United States, Snowdonia is planning to introduce its cheeses to this market in the near future, and Newton-Jones says that it will make no changes to the product in order to appeal to American palates.

When it comes to cheeses native to the British Isles, there are several products that are historically synonymous with this nation. Stilton, for example, is a popular bleu cheese linked to the British counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Caerphilly is one of the most popular Welsh cheeses, a mild, crumbly cow’s milk cheese with a pleasant tang. And Wensleydale is one of the most popular cheeses throughout Britain, often found blended with cranberries or apples.

However, the undisputed king of British cheeses is Cheddar. “The cheese market and the specialty cheese market is very competitive. There are hundreds of cheeses here,” said Turner. “Cheddar is our first offering, because everyone likes a good cheddar.”

Cheddar cheese represents British culinary heritage perhaps more than any other food. The cheese was originally made in and is named for the village of Cheddar in the southwestern corner of the country. Historically, the cheese was aged in the area’s many caves. Cheddar cheese benefited from the region’s unique climate, and the abundant grassy landscape that provides almost all of the diet for the area’s cows.

There are a number of things that make authentic British cheddars a much sought after cheese treat throughout the world. “British cheddar offers a discovery of an area that is very much well known for the taste of its cheese. You’ll have a different Cheddar experience,” said Turner.

“It is a different flavor profile, and the whole make process is different,” said Newton-Jones. “Basically the starter cultures which are used in these products are different from American cheddars. Also it’s different because the climate is different. For Snowdonia, we have a very high rainfall. The dairy herds in North Wales are grassfed herds. So we don’t have very high yielding herds … The result of that is that you get a higher level of butterfat and protein in the milk. So that allows us to produce a very high quality cheese as well.”

In explaining what makes British Cheddar so special, O’Donovan offered a British saying, popular among the country’s cheesemakers: “You have the grass in the cow’s tail,” he said. “What it means is that literally the cow’s tail is in the grass. Therefore you have the real grassy flavor.”

For Turner, bringing her company’s cheese to American consumers is about giving them an opportunity to figuratively travel to a new place. Regardless of the popularity of local foods in this country, when it comes to cheese, she believes there will always be a place in the U.S. consumer landscape for imported products that offer a taste of a particular place in the world.

“It’s unique, and it’s a discovery, and I think that’s what consumers are saying,” said Turner. “When it comes to specialty cheese, it gives them a way of discovering new things. You can support local, but it adds a little more spice by trying different things. It’s a bit like traveling the world without going anywhere.”

Emmi Roth USA to Sponsor Four Taste of the Nation Events

Emmi Roth USA will be a national partner and the official specialty cheese sponsor at four of Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® events, including the upcoming Taste of the Nation Houston event on April 6.

At Taste of the Nation events, guests will have the opportunity to sample a range of imported cheeses from Switzerland, such as Kaltbach Cave-aged Le Gruyère AOP, Kaltbach Cave-aged Emmentaler AOC, SwissArt and Appenzeller, along with award-winning selections from Wisconsin, including Grand Cru® Reserve, Buttermilk Blue®, GranQueso®, Horseradish Havarti, and the recently introduced 3 Chile Pepper Gouda.

Every year, Taste of the Nation events bring together the country’s best chefs, sommeliers and mixologists to raise money for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign, which is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need to the healthy food they need, every day. Held in more than 30 cities across the nation, guests of Taste of the Nation can sip and sample gourmet creations from each city’s premier culinary talent and participate in unique culinary, travel and lifestyle auctions – all while raising funds to make No Kid Hungry a reality. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $85 million.

“We are proud to sponsor Taste of the Nation events and continue to serve as proud partners of the No Kid Hungry campaign this year,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales at Emmi Roth USA. “We look forward to sharing our domestic and international award-winning cheeses with food lovers across the country for a great cause.”

Taste of the Nation  Houston will be held April 6, 2014 at the Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa. Emmi Roth will also sponsor Taste of the Nation events in New York City on April 28, Minneapolis on June 23 and Chicago on August 13.

In addition to sponsoring the events, Emmi Roth USA will donate $1 to the No Kid Hungry campaign for each Roth Signature Cheese Board Kit sold in 2014. For more information on the Cheese Board Kit, visit www.emmirothfoodservice.com.