While we were attending the American Cheese Society Conference this year, we got the chance to spend some time with award winning cheesemaker Katie Hedrich, of LaClare Farms. She was kind enough to talk cheese with us and share her experiences in building her creamery from the ground up. Although LaClare Farms has a brand new state of the art facility that utilizes goat milk, the concepts and operational flow will still apply for our own creamery, which for the most part, will focus on local grassfed cows milk. By the end of our conversation, not only did Katie provide us with some noteworthy ideas for our own creamery, but also extended an invitation to come help her make a batch of her award winning cheese, Evalon.
When we expressed to Katie how thankful we were that she was offering us information, contacts, and experiences, she explained to us that when she was in our position an established cheesemaker that she admired, took her under their wing and allowed her the same opportunity. The only thing they requested in return was to have her "pay it forward" someday and she felt that helping us would be her way of doing so. We could not pass up the opportunity and before we knew it, we were already planning our return to "America's Dairyland"!
In early October, we took Katie up on her offer and headed back to Wisconsin for what those in the food industry would call a "stage". We spent the week absorbing anything and everything we could. Not only did we make the infamous "Evalon" cheese with Katie (which we are still trying to get in Ohio.. hint, hint cheesemongers!), we also experienced how the facility runs on a day to day basis. Just a few of the highlights during our "stage" was an exclusive look and tasting of what other cheeses and experiments Katie has been working on, attending a private cheese analysis and dissection project at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, and playing with some of the cutest newborn kids around!
Overall, our "stage" was more than we could have asked for. We have great admiration for Katie and her family and are extremely thankful to be given the opportunity we had. We are looking forward to our opportunity to "pay it forward" in the future.