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Tastemakers at the Farm at the ARB

Updated: Jun 17

Hello and thank you for following the QR trail! This blog is full of the info from the presentation.

First of all, I was so honored to be asked by Michelle Sharp to do this presentation!! I hope all of you were able to glean some great ideas and information about the makers we support and promote. Power Point presentation:

Tastemakers presentation 06222024
Download PDF • 3.78MB

Thought I would add here some of the steps/advice/tips and tricks we went over in class

When buying the cheeses:

What to buy:

  • Consider your guests and their tastes/eating habits

  • Ask your cheese monger, explain to them what your event is and the nature of the guests. And budget!

  • When in doubt, remember: Something old, Something New, Something Stinky or interesting and Something Blue

How much to buy:

  • 1 oz per person per cheese if your board is part of a larger spread

  • 2 oz per person per cheese if your bord is the only appetizer

  • 3 oz per person per cheese if your board is the main event

When arranging the board, start with the largest item, move to the smallest:

  • Start by laying out the cheese. Consider them anchor stores

  • Pre-cut at least half the cheese

  • Then the charcuterie. Salami River will give your board direction. Salami Rose will give your board a focal point. Prosciutto can be quite hard to deal with, I usually wrap it around something and then place on the board. Like a pretzel or a stick of cheese.

  • Next are the jars of condiments.

  • Carbs if you want to include on the board

  • Fresh fruit (I only do grapes for decoration, they don't really go well with cheese....unless they are fermented and in a glass!!!!lol)

  • Last, the small round things that fill in the holes. Nuts, small dried fruit, olives... Keep them roped in with a component that won't go rolling off the board

  • You can put items next to each other as a suggested pairing. Don't dwell on it too much, folks will do what they do. For instance: cherries(dried or fresh) like brie and blue cheeses. Cheddars like pickles, mustards, salami and apples.


Let's recap the cheeses we tried today!

Alemar Cheese is what happens when imagination, research, work and patience converge to create something incredible.

Since its founding in 2008, the Alemar Cheese Company has become one of the most out-of-the-park success stories to emerge from Southern Minnesota – small-batch cheeses, originally produced in the small Minnesota town of Mankato, that made their way up through the artisan cheese circuit and into fine restaurants, cheese shops and stores worldwide.

The Alemar Cheese story begins with founder Keith Adams, a native of Davis, California. Inspired in part by a California friend who had made a name for himself as a winemaker, Keith began looking much closer at what had been a casual interest – artisan cheesemaking. As he researched, he sought out specific individuals to advise and mentor his entry into the craft. He credits Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery in California as most influential.

Using gently pasteurized milk from grass-fed cows at a farm 40 miles away, Keith in 2008 launched Alemar (named for his daughters Alexandra and Mariel) and its sole product, the Camembert-inspired Bent River. The luscious soft cheese impressed critics, writers, and customers with its rich, full-figured flavor, and Keith soon found the product welcomed in specialty cheese shops first locally, then from coast to coast.

Three years into production, he entered Bent River in the nation’s largest artisan cheese competition, run annually by the American Cheese Society, and came in third place for cow’s milk Camembert-style cheese, prompting food critic Dara Moskowitz-Grumdahl to write: “It’s like starting to throw javelins one day, and coming home with an Olympic bronze two years later; it’s unheard of.”

A few years following Bent River’s success, Keith began incrementally adding more products to the Alemar “family,” each one noted for a special punch and preparation. Alemar’s early additions were creamy Blue Earth Brie and funky Good Thunder. Today, the Alemar lineup features eight products, the newest being St. James, Boom Island, and Apricity. These products are all made with grass-fed cows’ milk, a belief Alemar has had since its founding. Great milk makes great cheese. Our farmers, CorStar Farms, are a small family with a herd of about 20 gorgeous cows that they treat like family. The lifespan of these cows is not only much comfier and more humane, it is also years longer than average dairy cows.

“I wanted to focus on one cheese for a good long while and become really proficient at it,” Keith says. “Once I felt that core competency… then I felt like it was time to try something new.” Keith’s adventures in cheesemaking have led him back to California, where he and winemaker Rob Hunter (the friend who inspired Keith’s creation of Alemar) have launched William Cofield Cheesemakers, specializing in the cornerstones of British Inspired Cheese Cheddar and Stilton-style.

In July of that same year, 2019, Alemar Cheese received an opportunity too good to resist. FOOD BUILDING in Northeast Minneapolis had an empty state-of-the—art creamery, and Alemar needed more space. The Twin Cities have been Alemar’s first and loudest supporters for ten years, making moving production a natural fit. Incredible things happen within this skillful community. Working in FOOD BUILDING provides Alemar’s cheesemakers with something truly unique: a space to share with other talented artisans. The building houses Baker’s Field Flour and Bread, Lowry Hill Provisions, 3LECHE, and Kieran’s Kitchen, a market that sells and celebrates the fine food products made in our home building.

In 2021, Keith and Kieran Folliard (Food Building founder) brought on Head Cheesemaker Charlotte Serino.

Charlotte is quite simply upping Alemar’s game. She graduated from UW-Madison in Wisconsin, went on to study food science and she has extensive experience making and selling artisan cheese. She’s mongered at a local favorite gourmet grocery store (Lund’s and Byerly’s) and a Multi-National (Whole Foods Market). Charlotte also has farmstead experience making many varieties of Goat’s milk cheeses prior to joining the Alemar Team. Her precision and thoughtfulness brings new light to Alemar’s production.

The Twin Cities has now been home to Alemar for almost 5 years and has fostered great collaboration and a plethora of new cheese experiments. Charlotte and the Alemar team strive to make the finest cheese in Minnesota with grass-fed cows’ milk from just around the corner.

Redhead Creamery in Brooten MN, south of Sauk Center. Absolute must visit!! Alise started this "Redheads Dream" when she was quite young. she made her first cheeses in 2014. They are a fantastic farm family. Jer-Lindy Farm is run by Alise's parents, Jerry and Linda. The farm provides all of the milk for the Creamery and both are on the same site, which makes it a Farmstead Creamery. They are also in the process of producing clear spirits from the whey that is the by-product of the cheesemaking process. Onsite, they offer farm tours and there is a bistro where you can get delicious eats and local wine an beer and buy the cheeses. Soon they will have a tasting room for the whey spirits.


Marieke Gouda Holy Trinity

The story of Marieke is super amazing and will make you want to go to the production facility!!! It is in Thorp WI, easy day trip. Here is the story(again, I am not above copy and paste, creds to the original) : Marieke's Story

 We can't say enough good things about this producer, their mission and the product. It all is simply glorious! Please read the link , you will be in love too. Marieke's facility in Thorp Wisconsin is a fantastic weekend destination! It is a Farmstead Creamery which means they have the farm with the cows on the same site as the creamery. The Creamery has viewing windows so you can watch the cheese being made and the aging rooms. Cafe' Dutchess is located within and serves up some lovely ice cream, grilled cheese sandwiches and other cheese-centric delights! Marieke Gouda is one of our top domestic and international award winners in the US, she is a force to be reckoned with!! Marieke is a licensed Cheesemaker, she is projected to become a Master Cheesemaker in 2025


Add a whole lot of personality to over 40 years of cheese industry experience and you’ll get Chris Gentine, self proclaimed "cheese hotrodder". Since starting his career in cheese at age 14, Chris worked his way up to developing Deer Creek. One of the main focuses of the brand is consistency of quality. In Wisconsin, this is ensured by a Wisconsin Licensed Cheese Grader, a professional who is licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. 

Chris has been a licensed cheese grader since 1997. A Wisconsin grading license is a

prestigious honor—Wisconsin is the only one in the USA to provide those credentials. Under his wing, Deer Creek’s resident artist, Brand Manager, and Chris’ daughter, Sophie, apprenticed and obtained a license of her own to continue our passion for sharing the simple pleasure of exceptional cheese

Chris strives to showcase some of the best of what The Dairy State has to offer by blending traditional, sustainable cheesemaking methods with a unique cocktail of cultures and ingredients, a rigorous grading program, and a twist of whimsy. With the help of his family and a close-knit team of employees, Chris continuously brings award-winning, characterful, and creative cheeses to the marketplace.

The cheeses are named after Chris' favorite childhood book by Patricia Scary, The Golden Story Book of River Bend. His daughter is the Artist that designs the labels.


Recipe Recap:

cedar plank brie with boozy berries or cherries
Download PDF • 165KB


Ever growing list of trivia:

And, if you read to the end of this post, you will be graced with a bit of knowledge that is NOT commonly known among folks:

  • It is still illegal in Wisconsin for Restaurants to put margarine on the table. It can only be served if the customer requests.

  • Wisconsin is the only place outside of Switzerland that REQUIRES a license to make cheese.


Disclaimer: much of this is copied from the maker's website. No one can tell their story better

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