Fifth Town reopens in time for Cheese Festival in June

Under new owners, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Prince Edward County will open its retail shop on May 30, the day prior to a visit by participants in the County Cheese Tour held in conjunction with The Great Canadian Cheese Festival that runs June 1-2 in Picton.

Cheesemaker Laura Todd will speak to the tour group on Fifth Town’s history and plans for the future.

The cheese factory will remain closed as the processing facility is re-approved for production, the company said in a statement. The retail store will sell “fine cheese inspired by Fifth Town artisan cheeses that consumers came to love.”  The shop will carry local foods, such as charcuterie, honey, and preserves, that have been selected to pair with the cheese that will be offered for sale.

Patricia Secord and Dr. Hugo Bertozzi, third generation producers, affineurs and purveyors of artisan cheeses, historically in Italy, and now in Canada, purchased Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in November 2012.  The transition period between shutdown and start-up is a long process, the company said, but will ultimately lead to a refurbished manufacturing facility and world-class cheese.  The factory is set to be producing Fifth Town favourites, like Cape Vessey, by early 2014.

Fifth Town is opening the shop in order to support the company during the transition, the statement said. “The shop will feature unique products honoring the new owners’ Italian roots and the incredible food produced in Prince Edward County.  We are excited to continue our tradition of partnering with small-scale food producers to showcase unique local flavors and help this agricultural region thrive.”

Fifth Town was founded by Petra Kassun-Mutch in 2004. After several years in design and development, construction began 2007 and the dairy opened June 2008 with then only five employees and three farms as suppliers. Before it was shut down last year when it ran into financial difficulties, Fifth Town had grown to more than 16 employees with seven farm suppliers and generated $1.5M in revenues annually.

Fifth Town has won more than 35 prestigious national and international awards including Grand Champion on several occasions for its unique cave-aged goat, sheep and cow milk cheeses. It took five of the 21 awards given to Ontario dairies at the recent American Cheese Society competition in Montreal.

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