Cheese Experts Sound Off

get to know some of the best cheese in the Valley from the local people that put in the work

Lauren Fisher

Rick Anderson
Cady Cheese Factory

How long have you worked for Cady Cheese? How long have you been a cheesemaker for? I have worked for Cady Cheese for 13 years and have been a cheesemaker for 7 years.

Why do you enjoy the work? I enjoy the work knowing I am producing a quality food product as well as having a good “hands on” with the making of it.

What are some of the unique aspects of cheesemaking in the region? Some of the unique aspects is knowing that most of the best cheese produced is coming from Wisconsin and being a part of it should make any Wisconsin cheesemaker feel great about what they do.

What is your favorite cheese from a different local cheese producer? My favorite cheese from another local cheese producer would have to be the Parmesan from Eau Galle Cheese Factory

Marieke Penterman
Marieke Gouda

How long have you worked for Marieke Gouda Cheese? How long have you been a cheesemaker for? My very first cheese batch I made on 22 November 2006.  I had never made cheese before, but I missed my Gouda from my homeland and I wanted to start my own business before I turned 30.  My husband was milking cows in a partnership at that time, so we had the high quality Wisconsin Milk right there on the farm, so why not make cheese?

Why do you enjoy the work? Because of the beautiful people that love food and appreciate where their food comes from … food makes memories, when shared with friends and a drink.

What are some of the unique aspects of cheesemaking in the region? The unique aspects of Gouda is that it is a water-washed curd.  We drain the whey and add water to wash the curds.  We don’t add salt by hand, but we let the cheese soak in a salt water bring for two and a half days.  We then hand coat them with a special coating and age them to perfection on wooden boards for a minimum of 60 days because we use raw milk.

Steve Bechel
Eau Galle Cheese Factory

How long have you worked for Eau Galle Cheese? I started at Eau Galle Cheese in August of 2000.

Why do you enjoy the work? There are several factors that really make me enjoy the cheese industry. First off is the science and art of cheesemaking. The first time I saw milk gel into the coagulum after adding the rennet, then cut into curds, and the syneresis process of the curd shrinking up and expelling the whey out, I was hooked on the science.  But then to start seeing the little things that can affect the cheese, just from how you handle it or by adding inclusion, you start to understand the art of cheesemaking as well.  Small changes to temperature or pH while making the cheese will impact the final product, so you are constantly evaluating and adjusting to achieve the result you are looking for.  It’s exciting, challenging, and like most things, the more effort and work you put into it, the more rewarding the results.

What are some of the unique aspects of cheesemaking in the region? Cheesemakers are really getting creative and it’s exciting – I think cheese is going where craft beer has gone, with more varieties and flavors to try all the time ... [During the 2018 American Cheese Society international contest] there were 1954 cheeses entered from 35 states, 5 Canadian provinces, Mexico, Brazil, and Columbia. Wisconsin took home 26% of the awards with 94 medals total, more than the next two states combined. I think our experience, heritage, and pride help us make the best products and it all starts on the farms with the quality milk we have access to.

What is your favorite cheese from a different local cheese producer? It’s hard to pick only one! Marieke makes great gouda, and her 2-year-old gouda is one of my favorites. LaGrander’s make a great cheddar and Cady Cheese has a fresh colby longhorn that everyone should try at least once in their life.