The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program, the nation’s only advanced training course of its kind for experienced cheesemakers, has graduated three new and four returning Master Cheesemakers. With the 2013 graduates, Wisconsin has 56 active Masters who together hold Masters’ certification for a total of 33 cheese varieties and represent 31 companies.
The newest Master Cheesemakers, who were formally certified at an April ceremony during the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference in La Crosse, are:
- Alan Greunke of Maple Grove Cheese in Milladore, certified as a Master in Cheddar and Monterey Jack.
- Pam Hodgson of Sartori in Plymouth, certified as a Master in Fontina and Open-Class Hard Cheese (MontAmoré).
- Dan Omundson, La Grander’s Hillside Dairy in Stanley, certified as a Master in Monterey Jack and Colby.
This year’s graduating class also includes four existing Masters who repeated the program to earn certification as Masters in additional cheese varieties. They are:
- Steve Hurd, Winona Foods, adds Romano and Asiago to the cheeses for which he is certified as a Master. Hurd is also a Master in Provolone and Fontina.
- Brian Jackson, Foremost Farms USA, now certified in Brick and Colby in addition to Monterey Jack and Cheddar.
- Randy Krahenbuhl, BelGioioso Cheese, who adds Fontina to his Master’s portfolio. He is also a certified Master in Swiss and Gouda.
- Gary Grossen, UW Madison Dairy Plant, now certified as a Master in Havarti and Gouda, in addition to Cheddar, Muenster and Brick.
“Wisconsin’s cheese industry is like no other, in part because of the depth of professional resources available to cheesemakers here. The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program is a big part of that,” says James Robson, CEO at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), one of the program’s founding partners. “The cheesemakers who earn the right to carry the Master Cheesemaker title are an exceptional group. Their passion for their craft and dedication to improving their knowledge and skills through this unique and rigorous course of study and evaluation sets them – and the Wisconsin cheesemaking tradition – apart.”
The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program is the most formalized, advanced training program in the nation, say the program’s officials. Patterned after European programs, it is administered by the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and funded by Wisconsin dairy producers, through WMMB. Applicants to the program must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years of experience. Cheesemakers can earn certification in up to two cheese varieties each time they enroll in the three-year program and must have been making those varieties as a licensed cheesemaker for a minimum of five years prior to entering the program. Once certified, they’re entitled to use the distinctive Master’s Mark on their product labels and in other marketing materials.