Award-winning cheesemakers to instruct cheese workshop

Quality cheesemaking can only be learned from those who make quality cheese. Take the opportunity to learn from international award-winning cheesemakers at the Michigan State University Extension Cheesemaking workshop.

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Cheesemaker Josh Hall shows a wheel of cheese made by the participants in a past MSU Extension Artisan Cheese Workshop. Photo by MSU Extension.

There are some cheeses that stand out in a crowd, cheese where the texture, taste and feel in your mouth cause you to savor it and smile in appreciation. What separates the best cheeses from the rest? What does it take to make excellent cheese? Wouldn’t it be a privilege and a thrill to learn cheesemaking from the hands of world class cheesemakers?

The Michigan State University Extension Artisan Cheese Workshop provides such an opportunity: the opportunity to learn from cheesemakers who earned the Super Gold Award at the 2023 World Cheese competition held in Trondheim, Norway, October 27-28, 2023. Josh Hall and Gary Smith, cheesemakers and managing partners of Leelanau Cheese in Suttons Bay, are the guest instructors for this Artisan Cheese workshop.

Current and aspiring cheesemakers alike are invited to register and join the Artisan Cheese Workshop, that will be held at Michigan State University Feb. 29-March 2, 2024.

Smith and Hall received the coveted Super Gold award for their Leelanau Raclette from among more than 4,200 international entries from 45 countries on five continents in the competition. More than 200 judges were involved and only the top 100 cheeses received the Super Gold designation.

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Gary Smith of Leelanau Cheese and Stan Moore of MSU Extension at the 2022 Cheese Workshop. Photo by MSU Extension.

Smith and Hall became managing partners of Leelanau Cheese in 2021, a business established in 1995 by John and Anne Hoyt. Their aim is to produce accessible and quality dairy products which highlight Michigan’s rich agricultural landscape. They also are intent on helping beginning cheesemakers become successful in the art and science in making great cheese.

During the MSU Extension cheese workshop, participants will understand what happens in milk that results in cheese, the interplay of time, temperature and pH on cheese, the intricacies of inoculation and ripening, cutting the curd and finishing of cheese. They will learn what can happen that reduces cheese quality and what might be done to rescue cheese. Food safety will be taught and practiced and participants will work with others to produce several different types of cheese, followed by an evening tasting session for all to enjoy.

Cheesemaking can be a hobby, or it can be a business. During the workshop, retired Extension Farm Management Educator Stan Moore will discuss the business of cheese and marketing considerations.

If cheesemaking is an interest of yours, plan to register soon for the MSU Extension Artisan Cheese Workshop, hosted Feb. 29-March 2, 2024 at the MSU Dairy Plant in East Lansing, Mich. Visit to learn more and to register. We look forward to gathering around the vat with you and learning together!

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