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Last year I was a featured guest chef at an amazing dinner pairing chefs with the next generation of Wisconsin cheese makers and I had the pleasure of meeting LaClare Farms' award-winning cheese maker Katie Hedrich.
Hedrich started making cheese in 2009 and has been blazing a trail since at LaClare Farms, near Chilton.
I recently caught up with Hedrich to ask her about all things in the world of cheese.
OnMilwaukee.com: What is it about making cheese that excites you the most?
Katie Hedrich: I love taking a raw ingredient, the milk, and creating something so unique and delicious. It really intrigues me how a combination of bacteria, cooking temps and technique make or break your cheese.
OMC: With so many styles of cheese and various cheese makers in Wisconsin, how do you find your niche?
KH: I have been blessed with growing up on a goat farm. So I make all goat's milk cheeses. Then I listen to what customers, cheese mongers, chefs and industry professionals want and try to fill the void. Things have really changed in the dairy goat industry over the past 10 years. It was very difficult to even get people to try goat products; now, they are practically begging for them.
OMC: What are some of your favorite styles of cheese?
KH: I am a big fan of aged cheeses – I like cheeses with lots of flavor that can be eaten all by themselves. I am also becoming a blue cheese fan. I really enjoy cooking with blue because it adds so much to the dish.
OMC: What is the future of cheese making look like? And how much do you think technology will impact the industry?
KH: I think the future of cheese making is bright. However, in order for us in the U.S. to continue growing the industry we have to make sure we are soaking up as much knowledge as we can from the experienced cheese makers in the state and country. Technology is a great thing, if used right, but people must also be able to use their senses to know if the cheese is doing what it's supposed to, and if it's not, how are they going to fix it.
OMC: If a young cheese lover wanted to start out in the industry what advice could you give them?
KH: Take your time and do it right. We need young people in the industry, but it's a lot of hard work with great reward. So, take the time to learn about what people are looking for and how to do it right. Learn from the best and keep learning.
For more information on Hedrich, visit LaClareFarm.com.
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