Chef Derek MacGregor ready to rumble at #TGCCF

Chef Derek MacGregor (left) has joined Mike MacKenzie at Seed to Sausage.

Chef Derek MacGregor (left) has joined Mike McKenzie at Seed to Sausage.

The name Derek MacGregor is quite synonymous to the local food scene in Ontario. His food philosophy is all about simplicity and fresh quality ingredients, especially Canadian cheese. The concept of farm to table is true to his heart, having grown up in a small community near Cornwall surrounded by fresh foods and grandmas who were exceptional cooks in the kitchen. He is a firm believer of embracing the local food community and has created great rapport with many of the farmers, cheesemakers and artisans.

Chef Derek states that shopping local supports our local economy and when in season, the local produce is so fresh, often picked that morning and quite regularly organic or pesticide free.

As chef of Le Chien Noir in downtown Kingston for just shy of 10 years and in restaurant kitchens for the past 20 years, there has been a change in this chef’s life. He joins Seed to Sausage as production manager and. most recently, he steps up to the plate at the Grilled Cheese Chowdown at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on the Sunday of a two-day-long cheesy affair from June 4-5 at the Picton Fairgrounds. The challenge? To compete alongside thee chefs making grilled-cheese sandwiches for 1,000 cheese lovers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

First 1,000 tickets holders admitted to #TGCCF on Sunday get to chow down on a free grilled-cheese sandwich.

First 1,000 tickets holders admitted to #TGCCF on Sunday get to chow down on a free grilled-cheese sandwich.

Chef Derek’s passion for food is still as strong as ever and he admits that his transition to Seed to Sausage was by need of change of scene as the pressure of running a line nightly was beginning to take a toll. A strong sense of loyalty and friendship with founder Michael McKenzie solidified his next move all while still continuing to work with good food. His love for food allows him to continue his journey and inspire others around him to come together.

With the title of chef also comes a love of cheese—fond of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, Derek has always impressed with this characuterie boards and dishes in the past. Of course picking one favourite Canadian cheese is quite the tough decision; his favourites include Grey Owl, Alegretto, and Seine d’Helene as well as a hometown cheese from Glengarry with its 4-year-old Lankaaster.

Chef Derek will be quite the contender at this year’s Grilled Cheese Chowdown and a crowd favourite with his enthusiastic spirit. As a proud locavore, he certainly is a prime choice for the competition.

Support Derek MacGregor this weekend June 4-5 at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton because, really, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? For complete information and tickets, please visit cheesefestival.ca.

—Rosalyn Gambhir
A food writer and photographer who calls Kingston home. She blogs about food, fashion and other good things life at www.rosalyngambhir.com.

 

Wilton Cheese: As old as Confederation

Cheese curds: Never leave the WIlton Cheese Factory without them.

Cheese curds: Never leave the WIlton Cheese Factory without them.

Wilton Cheese is a family tradition built on artisan cheese manufacturing—ensuring old fashioned, full-bodied natural flavours are still present today when you have a bite. With a wide selection of cheddar and variety cheeses, each one has been made with the utmost care and attention to ensure a premium product for your palate. It is a taste that has not changed since Wilton started making cheese in 1867.

Sample its flavours at the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, on June 4 and 5.

The Jensen family purchased Wilton Cheese, originally operated as a Farmer’s Cooperative, in the 1970s when one of the stipulations of the purchase was that the factory maintains its original name. The Jensen family has honoured that request. Still quaint in size, production in Odessa is rather large for this well-known cheese factory catering to retail outlets across Eastern Ontario and restaurants in Kingston.

Excellent Canadian cheddar: Mainstay at Wilton Cheese since 1867.

Excellent Canadian cheddar: Mainstay at Wilton Cheese since 1867.

A popular choice by many in the area, such as Chef Eric Brennan of Le Chien Noir Bistro in Kingston, the Wilton cheese curd is like no other with its creamy texture. Perfect to nibble on its own or indulge in a gooey poutine with shredded duck confit, the options are almost endless and we say it is darn good! But let’s not forget the aged cheddars that Wilton is also most commonly known for. Our favourite is Wilton’s aged white cheddar, a cheese that is aged naturally as it is placed underground in temperature-controlled storage coolers. A true delight, like wine, cheese generally improves with age.

A day trip to Wilton Cheese is well worth the journey along the Cheddar and Ale Trail, as it still remains one of Canada’s oldest cheese factory—using real milk, guided by master cheesemakers. As a culinary tourist who relishes in locavorism, do make sure to experience the several other artisanal variety cheeses such as Brick with Hot Pepper, Brick with Onion & Garlic, Brick with Olives, Colby and good old Marble! A key aspect to take note of is that Wilton Cheese does not use artificial dyes to add colour to the cheese. Instead, the pulp from the Annatto plant is used to give their cheddar the orange colour. How neat!

Don’t forget to visit Wilton this coming weekend as it will be one of three dozen artisan cheese producers sampling and selling cheese at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton. For complete information and tickets, please visit cheesefestival.ca.

—Rosalyn Gambhir
A food writer and photographer who calls Kingston home. She blogs about food, fashion and other good things life at www.rosalyngambhir.com.

Biggest selection of best cheeses in Canada at #TGCCF

cheese awards logo nodate english 3000 curves

What a huge selection of artisan cheese!

Twenty-two category winners at the recent Canadian Cheese Awards, and the Canadian Cheese of the Year, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, will be in the spotlight. Plus another 100 more artisan and farmstead cheeses from coast to coast.

Clearly, the biggest selection of the best cheeses ever available for sampling and purchase in one place, that’s what cheese lovers will find at the sixth annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton on June 4-5.

Close to 40 Canadian cheese producers, including the crème of the crème of Quebec, will be on hand to share their passion and their stories with thousands of cheese lovers. There’s even an opportunity to socialize with cheesemakers at Raclette Rave, the Saturday evening social highlight of the Festival.

Is there anything better than fresh cheese curds?

Is there anything better than fresh cheese curds?

Thanks to St. Albert Cheese Co-op, the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted on Saturday will enjoy a sample package of freshly made cheese curds. Soft and creamy, St. Albert curds have a delightful squeaky sound when chewed. On Sunday, the first 1,000 ticket holders will chowdown on grilled-cheese sandwiches freshly made by competing chefs using a blend of 14 award-winning cheeses. Yes, 14!

Also on Sunday, there is free admission to watch County chefs compete in the Road to Royal Chef Challenge being hosted by Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in conjunction with the Festival.

But there is more to #TGCCF than cheese, in fact, more than 500 foods and beverages are on offer. Included in price of admission: informative cheese seminars presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada, artisan foods galore, fine wine, craft beer, crisp cider, plus a souvenir tote, a souvenir glass, live music, dairy farm animals, food court and FREE parking.

Tickets are sold at the door but buying them online in advance means speedy access to all the deliciousness via the Express Entrance. Admission is $50 per person, seniors, $45. Children under 15 admitted free. Click to order tickets online.

Want to save a pile of money? Come as a group!

Here are the award-winning cheeses you will be able to sample and purchase on June 4-5:

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

CHEESE OF THE YEAR — FROMAGE D’EXCEPTION
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

Cows Creamery

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/L’Île-du-Prince-Édouard

MAIN CATEGORIES — CATÉGORIES PRINCIPALES

FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGE FRAIS

 
SEMI-SOFT CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE SEMI-FERME
FIRM CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME
FIRM CHEESE WITH HOLES – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME AVEC OUVERTURES
·      Oka l’Artisan – Agropur, Saint-Hubert, Québec
 
MIXED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE
  • Zoey, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BLOOMY RIND CHEESE – PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

 

OLD CHEDDAR (aged from 9 to 18 months) – CHEDDAR FORT (entre 9 et 18 mois d’affinage)
  • Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
 

AGED CHEDDAR (aged more than 18 months) – CHEDDAR VIEILLI (plus de 18 mois d’affinage)

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
GOUDA CHEESE – FROMAGE GOUDA
BLUE CHEESE –  FROMAGE À PÂTE PERSILLÉE
FLAVOURED CHEESE – FROMAGE AROMATISÉ
SPECIAL AWARDS — PRIX SPÉCIAUX
BEST COW CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE VACHE
·      Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
BEST GOAT CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE CHÈVRE
  • Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BEST SHEEP CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BREBIS
BEST BLENDED-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT MIXTE
  • Zoey, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BEST FARMSTEAD CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE FERMIER
BEST ORGANIC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE BIOLOGIQUE
BEST RAW-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT CRU
BEST NEW CHEESE – MEILLEUR NOUVEAU FROMAGE (Introduced to market in 2015/Mis en marché en 2015)
  • Zoey, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
REGIONAL AWARDS — PRIX RÉGIONAUX
BEST ONTARIO CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’ONTARIO
  • Tania, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BEST QUEBEC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DU QUÉBEC
BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES
  • Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Fromage-AmourTradition_4coul-e1419193019649The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Dairy Farmers of Canada is Diamond Sponsor, Prince Edward County is Gold Sponsor, Bay of Quinte Region is Principal Partner.

Picton Fairgrounds is located in the heart of Prince Edward County, south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region. One hour from Kingston, two hours from Toronto, three hours from Ottawa and New York State, and less than four hours from Montreal.

 

Cheese of the Year : Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar made by Cows Creamery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was proclaimed Cheese of the Year at the conclusion of the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards in Montréal on Thursday.

Awards were also presented to 31 category winners during the Awards Ceremony at glittering Time Supper Club to bring to a climax the biennial cheese judging and competition that is open to all milks—cow, goat, sheep and water Buffalo—used in cheesemaking in Canada.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar was also honoured as Best Aged Cheddar (aged more than 18 months).

Appletree Smoked Cheddar, also made by Cows Creamery, also won big :

  • Best Smoked Cheese
  • Best Cow’s Milk Cheese
  • Best Atlantic Canada Cheese.
Happy winners: Andrea White and Armand Bertrand of Cows Creamery.

Happy winners: Andrea White and Armand Bertrand of Cows Creamery.

Here are the complete results of what has become the biggest cheese competition in Canada. It is sponsored by Loblaw Companies and Provigo, with support from Dairy Farmers of Canada and Desjardins Group.

The presenting sponsor is The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, where the Cheese of the Year and other award winners will be in the spotlight on June 4-5.

FROMAGE D’EXCEPTION – CHEESE OF THE YEAR
·      Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

·      Cows Creamery

·      Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

MAIN CATEGORIES (17) CATÉGORIES PRINCIPALES

FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGE FRAIS

·      Bella Casara Mascarpone – Quality Cheese, Vaughan, Ontario
FRESH PASTA FILATA – FROMAGE À PÂTE FILÉE
·      President’s Choice® Formaggio di Bufala – Loblaw Companies, Brampton, Ontario
 SEMI-SOFT CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE SEMI-FERME
·      Baluchon – Fromagerie F.X. Pichet, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec
FIRM CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME
·      Pionnier – Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Racine, Québec
FIRM CHEESE WITH HOLES – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME AVEC OUVERTURES
·      Oka l’Artisan – Agropur, Saint-Hubert, Québec
WASHED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE LAVÉE
·      Chemin Hatley – Fromagerie la Station de Compton, Compton, Québec
 
MIXED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE
·      Zoey, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BLOOMY RIND CHEESE – PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE
·      Le Sabot de Blanchette – Fromagerie La Suisse Normande, Saint-Roch-Ouest, Québec
MILD & MEDIUM CHEDDAR (aged up to 9 months) – CHEDDAR DOUX & MOYEN (maximum de 9 mois d’affinage)
·      Cheddar moyen – Fromagerie Perron, Saint-Prime, Québec
OLD CHEDDAR (aged from 9 to 18 months) – CHEDDAR FORT (entre 9 et 18 mois d’affinage)
·      Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
 AGED CHEDDAR (aged more than 18 months) – CHEDDAR VIEILLI (plus de 18 mois d’affinage)
·      Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
GOUDA CHEESE – FROMAGE GOUDA
·      Old Growler – That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm, Upper Economy, Nova Scotia
BLUE CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE PERSILLÉE
·      Dragon’s Breath Blue – That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm, Upper Economy, Nova Scotia
FLAVOURED CHEESE – FROMAGE AROMATISÉ
·      Le Fréchette – Ail & Fines Herbes – Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Racine, Québec
SMOKED CHEESE -FROMAGE FUMÉ
·      Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
FETA / CHEESE IN BRINE – FETA / FROMAGE EN SAUMURE
·      President’s Choice® Feta Light – Loblaw Companies, Brampton, Ontario
 GRILLING CHEESE – FROMAGE À GRILLER
·      Le Paillasson de l’isle d’Orléans – Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans, Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans, Québec
 

The biennial competition attracted 301 entriers from across Canada.

The biennial competition attracted 301 entries from across Canada.

SPECIAL AWARDS (9) PRIX SPÉCIAUX

BEST COW CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE VACHE
·      Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
BEST GOAT CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE CHÈVRE
·      Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
 BEST SHEEP CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BREBIS
·      Zacharie Cloutier – Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Racine, Québec
BEST WATER BUFFALO CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BUFFLONNE
·      Fuoco – Fromagerie Fuoco, Saint-Lin-Laurentides, Québec
BEST BLENDED-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT MIXTE
·      Zoey, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BEST FARMSTEAD CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE FERMIER
·      Baluchon – Fromagerie F.X. Pichet, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec
BEST ORGANIC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE BIOLOGIQUE
·      Baluchon – Fromagerie F.X. Pichet, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec
 BEST RAW-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT CRU
·      Le Pionnier – Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Racine, Québec
BEST NEW CHEESE – MEILLEUR NOUVEAU FROMAGE (Introduced to market in 2015/Mis en marché en 2015)
·      Zoey, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
REGIONAL AWARDS (5) PRIX RÉGIONAUX

BEST B.C. CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LA COLOMBIE BRITANNIQUE

·      Traditional Clothbound Cheddar – The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Agassiz, British Columbia
BEST ALBERTA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’OUEST
·      Natural Smoked Gouda Medium – Sylvan Star Cheese, Red Deer, Alberta
BEST ONTARIO CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’ONTARIO
·      Tania, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
BEST QUEBEC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DU QUÉBEC
·      Le Pionnier – Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Racine, Québec
BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES
·      Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

The Canadian Cheese Awards is the first cheese competition in Canada open to all milks used in cheese making – cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo – with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

http://www.cheeseawards.ca

Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens est le premier et le plus grand au Canada ouvert à tous les fromages produits au Canada à partir du lait pur de vaches, de chèvres, de brebis ou de bufflonnes canadiennes – sans colorant artificiel, parfum, agent de conservation  ni substance laitière modifiée.

http://www.cheeseawards.ca/accueil/

Awards Tasting Gala at Time Supper Club in Montréal drew 460 fans of Canadian cheese.

Awards Tasting Gala at Time Supper Club in Montréal drew 460 fans of Canadian cheese. Photo: Anne Munro.

Who will win Canadian Cheese of the Year on Thursday?

Le Baluchon: Cheese of the Year in 2014.

Le Baluchon: Cheese of the Year at the previous Canadian Cheese Awards.

The anticipation is building toward the climax of the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens this Thursday in Montréal.

  • Will a Quebec cheese again be crowned Canadian Cheese of the Year?
  • Which cheese will be named Best Quebec Cheese of 2016? There are seven Quebec finalists within a few points of each other.
  • What about Best Ontario Cheese? There are five finalists in a tight race.
  • Who will win Best Blue Cheese, Best Cheddar and Best Gouda and 14 other main categories?

All together, 32 different champions will be crowned on Thursday, April 14, at the Awards Ceremony and Reception at popular Time Supper Club in downtown Montréal. The public is invited to the Awards Tasting Gala starting at 6 p.m.

More than 100 cheeses will be in the spotlight at the Tasting Gala, finalists and winners in the biggest cheese competition in Canada. Many cheesemakers will be present to engage with cheese lovers.

Admission includes more than 100 different cheese to sample as often as you wish, plus crackers, charcuterie and condiments. All you can eat, really! Wine, beer, sparkling water and juices available for purchase.

Click here to order tickets online at $25 per person plus tax. A ticket purchased in advance will provide speedy access to all the deliciousness inside Time Supper Club at 997 rue Saint-Jacques in Montréal. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

Time Supper Club is a short walk west of Palais des Congrès in downtown Montreal, two blocks from Bonaventure Metro Station. Originally, Palais des Congrès was announced as the venue for the Awards.

At the previous Canadian Cheese Awards in 2014, Le Baluchon, made by Marie-Claude Harvey and her team at Fromagerie F.X. Pichet in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec, was honoured as Cheese of the Year. This year, Le Baluchon is a finalist in three categories. It is also in the running for Best Quebec Cheese and Cheese of the Year in all Canada.

Competition is extremely close for Best Québec Cheese honours. There are seven finalists, in alphabetical order:

Best Ontario Cheese is also tightly contested, with five finalists:

  • Bella Casara Mascarpone – Quality Cheese, Vaughan, Ontario
  • Castello Smoked Gorgonzola – Arla Foods Canada, Concord, Ontario
  • Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
  • Mountainoak Chili Pepper Smoked – Mountainoak Cheese, New Hamburg, Ontario
  • Tania, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario.

Finalists are equally divided between Québec and other cheese-producing regions in Canada. They include large and small producers from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses, a small producer in Agassiz, British Columbia, and Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, each garnered the most nominations as finalists: eight.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses, a small producer in Agassiz, British Columbia, and Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, each garnered the most nominations as finalists: eight.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses, a small producer in Agassiz, British Columbia, and Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, each garnered the most nominations as finalists: eight. That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm of Upper Economy, Nova Scotia, has five nominations.

In Québec, Fromagerie du Presbytère of Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick has been named finalist in seven classes. Fromagerie F.X. Pichet of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Cheese of the Year in 2014 with Baluchon, is finalist in five classes. Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser of Noyan, one of the pioneers in artisan cheese in Québec, has three nominations.

The independent competition is open to all milks used in cheesemaking in Canada—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

Loblaw Companies and Provigo are Marquee Sponsors. Additional support is provided by Dairy Farmers of Canada and Desjardins Group. Slow Food Montréal is the presenting partner, Yannick Fromagerie, the logistics partner.

The biennial Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fin canadiens is organized by The Great Canadian Cheese Festival as a service to the cheese industry and a guide for consumers. The Festival is the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada, held annually the first weekend in June in Picton, Prince Edward County, in Bay of Quinte Region near Belleville, Ontario.

The 2016 Cheese of the Year and other award-winners will be in the spotlight at #TGCCF on June 4-5.

 

Hobby to business—Ian Treuer’s winding road in cheese

Cheese dreams come true for Ian Treuer of Winding Road Artisan Cheese.

Cheese dreams come true for Ian Treuer of Winding Road Artisan Cheese.

After almost a decade of research, learning and teaching about cheese, Ian Treuer is turning his passion into a career.

“I was looking for a hobby,” Treuer said. “I don’t really drink, so beer making was out. I made my first cheese at home eight years ago.”

As of February 15, Treuer is the owner of Winding Road Artisan Cheese in the County of Smoky Lake, Alberta. He purchased the existing Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese business after working there part-time in 2012-2013. It is located 20 minutes from the town of Smoky Lake and 90 minutes from Edmonton.

winding-road-logo

Treuer and his business partner/mentor, who works behind the scenes, have rebranded and changed the product line for the launch of Winding Road Artisan Cheese. Treuer is the cheesemaker, bringing his experience as home and professional cheesemaker, teaching cheese making classes and co-ordinating the first ever Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2015.

“I enjoy both the science and the art form,” Treuer said of cheesemaking. “There’s something about starting with a liquid and turning that liquid into a solid. I love working with the curds.”

When Treuer started his road to artisan cheese making, he followed Australian blogger Gavin Weber’s “Little Green Cheese” posts. Weber also creates cheese in his home kitchen. Now Treuer follows many cheesemakers on Instagram. Much To Do About Cheese is Treuer’s own popular blog about home cheesemaking.

Ian Treuer working part-time in the make room at Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese. Three years later, he's co-owner and the cheesemaker.

Ian Treuer working part-time in the make room at Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese. Three years later, he’s co-owner and the cheesemaker.

“I’m inspired on a daily basis,” he said. “I’m a fan of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, Ontario. It was a thrill to meet Shep Ysselstein, the cheesemaker, at last year’s Cheese Festival,” he said.

Pending licensing and inspections, Treuer hopes to start making cheese in March. His long-term goal is to obtain federal as well as provincial licenses.

Winding Road cheeses will be made using a thistle enzyme rather than traditional rennet.

“This will help give our cheeses unique flavors and hopefully set us apart from other cheeses produced in Alberta,” said Treuer.

To begin with, Treuer will be the cheesemaker with his business partner helping with administration, marketing and sales. Their initial market will be cheese enthusiasts in Alberta and eventually across Canada. The cheeses will be cow-milk cheeses, but they hope to team up with local goat dairies as well.

The first cheeses ready for sale will be:

  • Queijo Fresco – A traditional Portuguese fresh cheese made using thistle (cardoon) enzyme.
  • Fromage Blanc – A lovely light, spreadable cheese that is a perfect substitute for Chevre, for those who don’t like goat cheese, and cream cheese.
  • Lactic Bloomy Rind Cheeses – A washed rind cheese to be ready two to three months after they start production, and a firm cheese to be ready in six to seven months.
Cardoon.

Cardoon: unique enzyme.

The partners hope to process between 1,000-2,000 litres of milk per week. They have a 300-litre vat, so Treuer said he is focusing on quality over quantity.

This quality Treuer believes will come from the unique enzyme found in the Cardoon plant, allowing him to make unique “Made in Alberta” cheeses. One of his long term goals is to get licensed Federally so he and his partner can help put Alberta in the minds of cheese lovers when people talk about Canadian cheese.

Follow Ian Treuer’s progress on Instagram at @MTDACheese. A company website, http://www.windingroadcheese.com, should be up and running by May.

—By Joanne Fralick

Joanne Fralick is a cheese lover and freelance writer who lives with husband and son in Prince Edward County. She’s also Promotions Specialist for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

A Very Dairy Christmas to you and yours!

From our house to yours, all the best of the holidays! May much cheese be with you in 2016!

—Georgs Kolesnikovs