Fifth Town introduces Italian cheese

Fifth Town imports Cap Cressy from Lombardy in Italy.

Fifth Town imports Cap Cressy from Lombardy in Italy.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese has started selling Italian cheeses at its Prince Edward County retail store. The new owners have been importing cheese from Italy for decades as Bertozzi Importing of Etobicoke, Ontario.

Many of the imported cheeses—mainly from Piedmont and Lombardy—have names similar to names of the award-winning Canadian cheeses produced by Fifth Town before financial difficulties forced it to shut down in early 2012. For example:

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 cheese dairy is set to be producing Fifth Town favourites, like Cape Vessey, by early 2014.

In other developments at Fifth Town, it has restarted its cheese blog.

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.

Two cheese tours to tempt your palate

Lori Smith with one of her 200 charges at the Ontario Water Buffalo Company in Stirling.

Lori Smith with one of her 200 charges at the Ontario Water Buffalo Company in Stirling.

For cheese lovers interested in an extra day of cheese-learning and cheese-tasting, a second itinerary has been added to the guided cheese tours offered on the Friday before the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

The new Quinte Cheese Tour will visit two award-winning cheese producers, Empire Cheese and Maple Dale Cheese, with a lunch stop and tour of Ontario Water Buffalo Company, a pioneering water-buffalo dairy farm. A craft brewery, Church-Key Brewing, and a chocolate maker are also on the itinerary.

The popular County Cheese Tour continues, with stops at Black River Cheese, in operation since 1901, and the new County Cheese Company where cheesemaking will start this summer. Fifth Town Artisan Cheese will be added, if it has re-opened by May 31.

The third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2, in Crystal Palace on the Prince Edward Fairgrounds in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County in Ontario’s Bay of Quinte Region. Cheese tours and a class on cooking with artisan cheese are offered on Friday, May 31.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is a multi-faceted event that annually attracts thousands of consumers to meet, learn, taste and buy the best in artisan cheese and fine foods and sample fine wine, craft beer and crisp cider.

Dairy Farmers of Canada is the lead sponsor, presenting seminars throughout the day in the All You Need Is Cheese® Annex.

Bay of Quinte Region is a major sponsor. It will host a guided tasting of Quinte cheeses paired with local wines and beers to help promote the Bay of Quinte Cheese Route.

Taste and buy artisan and farmstead cheese at the biggest cheese show in Canada.

Taste and buy artisan and farmstead cheese at the biggest cheese show in Canada.

The Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair features a Dairy Farm display for the enjoyment of young and old. Also on the program are Tutored Tastings where experts offer guidance on a variety of cheese topics. At From the Farm Cooking School, Cynthia Peters leads a hands-on class in cooking with artisan cheese.

Outstanding wine and-dine-with-cheese experiences are offered on Saturday evening. Winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix are on the menu as the cheese course at Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy. Cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen is paired with Chef Michael Hoy for Wine & Dine at Huff Estates Winery. Additional chef-driven events are still to be announced.

Advance ticket sales are under way at www.cheesefestival.ca.

Last year, close to 100 exhibitors and vendors and more than 3,000 consumers made the event the biggest cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast. One-third of the participating cheese producers come from Québec, the leading artisan cheese region in Canada.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese back in business?

Breaking news that we have not yet been able to confirm:

On the blog Cheese and Toast, Sue Riedl writes that Kelsie Parsons has learned Fifth Town Artisan Cheese has a new owner, employees have started work today and cheese will be made again later this year.

More, as it develops.

Sail right to the door of County Cheese Company

Our lunch after docking at the County Cheese Company in Waupoos: Marvelous Magie de Ganaraska (right) and Voyageur, a strong blue with a unique hint of sweetness. Click on any image for an enlarged view.

If you sailed to Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, you could visit Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. On the west coast, you could call at Salt Spring Island in the Strait of Georgia and visit Salt Spring Island Cheese. But you’d have to hike or cab to get to the cheese.

In Ontario, you can step off the boat and in less that one minute be inside the County Cheese Company to taste and purchase artisan cheese. Which is what we did this afternoon while on a boating holiday around Prince Edward County.

One-month-old County Cheese Company is based in Waupoos Marina just down the road from County Cider Company and Waupoos Estate Winery.

John Thomson of KendalVale Cheese and now also the County Cheese Company at Waupoos Marina in Prince Edward County.

A Canadian filmmaker turned cheese entrepreneur, John Thomson, opened a retail store adjacent to the Blue Moose Café in the marina on the Civic Holiday weekend. By the spring of 2013, Thomson plans to be producing sheep’s milk cheese in the Old Waupoos Canning Factory building on the marina property.

Thomson isn’t exactly a newcomer to cheese. He started KendalVale Cheese about a year ago. He transports Ontario sheep’s milk to Quebec where it’s turned into fine cheese at La Moutonnière, an established award-winning fromagerie operated by Lucille Giroux and Alastair Mackenzie in the village of Sainte-Hélène-de-Chester.

The KendalVale cheeses—Magie de Ganaraska, Commanda, Voyageur and Champlain—have quickly become favorites with cheese lovers in Ontario and chefs such as Jamie Kennedy. Thomson has set up his own distribution system and also represents the award-winning cheeses of La Moutonnière such as Bleu de La Moutonnière, Fleurs des Monts and Sein d’Hélène.

The County Cheese Company shares a building with Blue Moose Café steps from the docks at Waupoos Marina. County Cheese will operate the café during the fall, winter and spring.

Following the closing of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese early this year. Thomson saw an opportunity to develop a cheese production facility in Prince Edward County, often called the hottest new culinary destination in Ontario. He did consider making a bid for Fifth Town assets but decided to pursue his own direction with the support of Prince Edward/Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC)* and others, including Linda Bell, owner of Waupoos Marina.

By boat or other means, Waupoos is about to become a must-stop on any visit to Prince Edward County.

Black River Cheese Company, which has been producing cheddar in the County since 1901, is a short distance from Waupoos. There is a small dock at the rear of the plant on Black River but we’re not certain it can be reached by anything but a small boat. We’ll have a report on that in a few days.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, aboard the power yacht At Last!

* PELA CFDC is a community-based, not-for-profit corporation whose objective is to encourage local entrepreneurship and economic development. PELA CFDC specializes in providing business loans, grants, and training.

Aged Lankaaster crowned Grand Champion at the Royal

Aged Lankaaster created by Margaret Peters-Morris of Glengarry Fine Cheese is the 2011 Grand Champion in its class at the Royal Winter Fair.

Aged Lankaaster was named Grand Champion in the variety cheese competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair this week, continuing a streak of awards won by Eastern Ontario’s Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Cendre de Lune made by Quebec cheesemaker La Fromagerie du Village 1860 was named Reserve Champion.

Despite multiple entries from large cheese producers such as Saputo and Agropur, Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, collected the most first-place ribbons—four in all—with Zerto Fresh Mozzarella, Ricotta, Borgonzola and Burrata.

Perhaps as an indication of things to come, a new artisan cheesemaker, Primeridge Pure of Markdale, Ontario, won a second and a third with Grey Rush, a creamy dessert cheese.

The Grand Champion, Aged Lankaaster, is matured to a minimum of 10 months. Margaret Peters-Morris tells CheeseLover.ca. The cheese entered in the competition was made in June, 2010, therefore, it was 16 months mature.

Aged Lankaaster is a firm cheese, traditional rind, characteristic gouda “eyes” present,  paste is dark, laden with crystals, with lovely butterscotch, pineapple and lactic notes, the veteran cheesemakers says. This cheese lingers in one’s mouth and is very suitable to use as cheese to make any “gratin” in culinary preparations.

Here are the top three in the variety class of the annual competition:

Hard Parmesan, Grana, Romano, etc

  1. Lankaaster – Aged,  Glengarry Fine Cheese
  2. Quinte Crest, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  3. Baby Parmesan, Silani

Pasta, Filata Mozzarella, Provolone, Scarmorze, etc

  1. Zerto Fresh Mozzarella, Quality Cheese
  2. Fior de latte, Quality Cheese
  3. Tre Stelle Fiordi Latte, Arla Foods

Firm Brick, Colby, etc

  1. Monterey Jack, Parmalat
  2. Anco Creamy Havarti, Agropur Fine Cheese
  3. Colby, Ivanhoe

Interior Ripened Edam, Gouda, Asiago

  1. North Heaven,  Thornloe Cheese
  2. Riviere Rouge, Agropur Fine Cheese

Surface Ripened Fontina, Oka, Munster, St. Paulin

  1. La Sauvagine, Alexis de Portneuf
  2. Cantolait, Fromagerie St Guillaume
  3. Oka Raclette, Agropur Fine Cheese

Mold Ripened Brie, Camembert

  1. Cendre de Lune, La Fromagerie du Village 1860
  2. Rondoux Triple Creme, Agropur Fine Cheese
  3. Camembert L’Extra, Agropur Fine Cheese

Unflavoured Fresh Cheese

  1. Ricotta, Quality Cheese
  2. Grey Rush,  Primeridge Pure
  3. Anco plain, Agropur Fine Cheese

Flavoured Fresh Cheese

  1. Delicreme Five Peppers, Agropur Fine Cheese
  2. Delicreme Herbs and Garlic, Agropur Fine Cheese
  3. Grey Rush – Herb Blend, Primeridge Pure

Blue Veined Cheese

  1. Borgonzola, Quality Cheese
  2. Castello Gorgonzola Cheese, Arla Foods
  3. La Roche Noire, Alexis de Portneuf

Swiss Ementhal Cheese

  1. Swiss Cheese, Fromagerie St Guillaume
  2. Oka L’Artisan, Agropur Fine Cheese
  3. Swiss Cheese, Farmers Dairy

Flavoured Cheese

  1. Oka Mushrooms, Agropur Fine Cheese
  2. Lankaaster Cumin Flavoured, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  3. Chevalier Fine Herbs, Agropur Fine Cheese

Open Class

  1. Burrata, Quality Cheese
  2. La Tentation de Laurier, La Fromagerie du Village 1860
  3. Allegro Camembert 16%, Agropur Fine Cheese

Any Cheese made with Sheep’s Milk

  1. Wishing Tree, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  2. Bonnie & Floyd, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  3. Mouton Rouge, Best Baa Dairy

Feta

  1. Feta in Brine, Black Diamond
  2. Tre Stella Feta, Arla Foods
  3. Anco Feta, Agropur Fine Cheese

Cendre de Lune by La Fromagerie du Village 1860 was named Reserve Champion in the variety cheese class.

Judges in the variety class: Thierry Martin and Jean-Jacques Turgeon

Sponsors: Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Canadian Cheese Society, Cargill, Central Ontario Cheese Makers, Parmalat, Jersey Canada, Continental Ingredients Canada, Ecolab, Empire Cheese.

Fifth Town won’t be the same Fifth Town without Petra

Petra Kassun-Mutch founded Fifth Town Artisan Cheese seven years ago.

Petra Kassun-Mutch, a dynamic force in Ontario artisan cheese, is stepping down today as president of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, the award-winning company she founded seven years ago. She remains a 50% shareholder of the Prince Edward County-based business.

Two years ago, in an editorial feature in Best Health, a Reader Digest online magazine, Kassun-Mutch was quoted as saying about Shawn Cooper, her husband at the time and owner of the other 50% stake in the business, “I bounce ideas off him, but he doesn’t play an operational role. We’d kill each other if he did.”

Last Friday, in a statement to friends of Fifth Town, Kassun-Mutch wrote, “As many of you know, my husband and I separated over 20 months ago. And sadly our personal lives and dynamic were beginning to affect Fifth Town in a negative way. We are both directors and shareholders. Equal decision makers. And as a consequence of irreconcilable differences resulting in a deadlock regarding the best way to move forward with Fifth Town, I have decided that Fifth Town will be best served by transitioning the company into new hands entirely.”

Cooper remains the sole director of Fifth Town. Christine Legein has been hired as interim president, effective today.

Legein was vice-president of CCC Investment Banking, a mid-market Canadian investment bank with a specialization in the food processing industry. Legein has almost 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. Prior to her career in financial advisory and investment banking, Christine served in different executive roles in corporate development and operations at such market leaders as Ault Foods and John Labatt.

Cooper has retained CCC Investment Banking to evaluate the company’s strategic options to leverage Fifth Town’s cheesemaking expertise and brand in order to drive the next phase of its growth.

In her statement, Kassun-Mutch said, “As you can imagine, the idea of moving (Fifth Town) into new hands is very difficult for me as this company is my life’s best professional work thus far. While I realize that new ownership and investment will be good for FT, our staff and farmers in the long run, I am too close and to vested in its original vision and the direction I had set for this enterprise to continue on as the president during this review and change process.”

But Kassun-Mutch, 49, has no plans to slow down:

“Fifth Town, for me, was not just about cheese. It was also a wonderful opportunity to apply what I had learned so far in life and business to the design and launch of a brand new, forward looking, social purpose enterprise with an emphasis on sustainability. So, while Fifth Town has been the centre of my professional life over the past seven years, I plan to continue to develop my strong interest in social purpose enterprise design and management because I believe that achieving social goals while generating a reasonable return for investors are entirely possible—and perhaps even necessary.”

Kassun-Mutch was a key player in the founding of the Ontario Cheese Society and currently serves as interim chair of the recently formed Canadian Cheese Society. She told the society’s board that she now plans to be fully involved in its development as a voice for cheesemakers coast to coast.

Cape Vessey is one of the many award-winning cheeses brought to market during the inspired leadership of Petra Kassun-Mutch.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese describes itself as an environmentally and socially responsible enterprise positioned as a niche producer of fine handmade cheeses using fresh, locally produced goat and sheep milk. The product development processes reflect the spirit of the Fifth Town brand which aims to integrate traditional methods and craftsmanship ethics with local terroir. Situated on 20 acres of agricultural land on the eastern ridge of Prince Edward County, the 4,200-square-foot Fifth Town dairy processing, retail and educational facility enhances the practice of artisan cheese making with advanced sustainable design. The project aims to be Platinum accredited under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

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. Since then, Fifth Town has grown to more than 16 employees with seven farm suppliers, and generates $1.5M in revenues annually.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Prince Edward County is the only Platinum LEED dairy in the world.

The company was designed by Kassun-Mutch from the outset as a social purpose enterprise with governing values focused on leadership in sustainable enterprise management, local community contributions, and the triple bottom line. About 93% of the money spent to make, market and distribute its products stayed in the community.

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.

In 2009, Fifth Town received the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation. It is Canada’s only Platinum LEED manufacturing facility and the only Platinum LEED dairy in the world. It has also received many awards for a variety of other initiatives including sustainable enterprise management, marketing, innovation, and architecture.

Fifth Town is Canada’s 8th B Corporation and achieved highest score at time of certification.

Here’s the link to How Cheese Saved My Life, the fascinating feature on Kassun-Mutch in Best Health quoted above. See also: