The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program, the nation’s only advanced training program of its kind for veteran cheesemakers, has graduated two new and four returning Master Cheesemakers. Wisconsin now has 55 active Masters working in 33 companies across the state.
The newest Master Cheesemakers, who were formally certified at a ceremony during the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference in Madison this week, are Adam Buholzer, of Klondike Cheese Company in Monroe, and Chris Roelli, of Roelli Cheese Haus in Shullsburg.
Buholzer is a fourth-generation cheesemaker and one of four Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers in the Buholzer family, including his father, Steve, and uncles, Ron and Dave Buholzer. Adam is now certified as a Master for feta and havarti.
Roelli is certified as a Master in cheddar, the variety on which his family’s original plant was founded. Since re-opening the business in 2006, he has emerged as an award-winning producer of artisanal Wisconsin originals, including Dunbarton Blue, Little Mountain and Red Rock. Like Buholzer, Roelli is a fourth-generation Wisconsin cheesemaker.
Joining the new Masters in the 2015 graduating class are veteran Masters who completed the program again to earn certification for additional cheese varieties. They are:
- Ken Heiman, Nasonville Dairy, Marshfield, Wisconsin, now certified for cheddar and asiago, as well as feta and Monterey Jack.
- Mike Matucheski, Sartori Company, Antigo, Wisconsin, now certified for fontina and romano, as well as parmesan and asiago.
- Duane Petersen, Arla Foods USA Inc., Kaukauna, Wisconsin, now certified for havarti, as well as gouda and edam.
- Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Wisconsin, now certified for cheddar, as well as brick, farmer’s cheese, havarti, muenster and specialty Swiss.
“It’s exciting to see the ranks of Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers continue to grow and for this unique program to have such a sustained, positive impact on cheesemaking in Wisconsin,” says James Robson, CEO of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “Each year’s class takes the advanced training, expertise and insights they gain back to their plants and to the teams that they work with and mentor every day. The bar on product quality and innovation within those companies, large and small, just keeps rising.”
Established in 1994 through a joint partnership of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (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 must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years of experience in a Quality Assured Plant. 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.