James Beard Award Winner Nick Haddow Talks Cheese

Milk. Made. Everything Haddow Knows About Cheese

Nick Haddow’s book MILK. MADE. inspires us to get off the couch, carefully select ingredients, and create something we’ve never attempted before. Founder of The Bruny Island Cheese Company in Tasmania, Australia, Nick Haddow has traveled the world meeting cheesemakers and dairy farmers discovering what makes great cheese great and is the 2017 recipient of the James Beard Foundation Book Award for Single Subject with MILK. MADE., published by Hardie Grant.

Most people have a cursory understanding of how our everyday dairy products are made – the fats solidify, maybe in a churn or are separated out through cheesecloth, or something along those lines … But how does milk become cheese? Or yogurt? Or the countless other dairy products less common in the United States but are staples around the world; skyr, paneer, labneh or fromage blanc. In MILK. MADE., Mr. Haddow sets out to close this knowledge gap; to build a bridge between the dairy farmer and the cheese on your pizza. The transformation from milk to something more delectable is not a secret, and in fact, many types of cheeses and yogurts can easily be made at home. If you have access to milk, you can make cheese.

MILK. MADE. is equal parts profiles of dairy farmers and cheesemakers, recipes and photography. Mr. Haddow visited cheesemakers and farmers around the world – from Switzerland to England to the US – to find out what makes good cheese. With chapters dedicated to butter, fresh cheeses, blue cheeses, as well as others, the techniques utilized to turn milk into parmesan instead of feta are carefully explained and shown with beautiful photography. The recipes accompanying each chapter can make any at-home chef into a cheesemaker overnight (with some practice and attention to technique). If you have never made ricotta or butter at home, the difference between what you can achieve versus what you can buy is astounding. Of course, the key to all great dairy products is in the milk – whether it be from a cow, sheep, goat or buffalo.

Now I do have to say that Mr. Haddow’s recipes aren’t things you would want to tackle for the first time on a busy weeknight. Instead, take risks on the weekend when you can take the time to perfect the various techniques. Once mastered, you can begin to incorporate the homemade butter, cheese, and yogurt into your daily meals. That’s one of the great things about cheese – it’ll keep – in some cases, it needs time to age anyway.



Q: Tell me what’s so great about cheese.

Nick Haddow: It appeals to me both intellectually and gastronomically.  I am fascinated by the ability that cheese has to capture a time and a place. Great cheese should always represent where and when it came from; a time and place.

Q: What trends are you noticing when it comes to cheese?

NH: More people are placing value on cheese. It’s a result of the free range egg phenomenon. People are waking up a bit and wanting to understand how their food is produced and where it comes from.

Q: How did you end up on Bruny Island?

NH: My wife and I were living in Japan and we wanted to move back to Australia but didn’t want to live in a big city. So we moved to Tasmania to work at a dairy where they had been making cheese for over a 100 years. A year later, we fell in love with Southern Tasmania and specifically Bruny Island. We started Bruny Island Cheese Company straight away and the first 5-6 years were pretty tough. We’d get up early, make cheese all day, and then go and work at a bar in the evening to make enough money to do it all again the next day.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you now when you are on Bruny Island?

NH: My role is now more in leadership and bringing people into the business. We are starting our own dairy farm using old heritage breeds of cows and using native pasture in the hopes of starting a raw milk cheesery.

Q: What advice would you have for a home cook looking to start making cheese?

NH: Look for milk from a single source if possible and as fresh as possible – within 48 hours would be ideal. Also, look for cream on top – definitely not homogenized. And keep in mind it doesn’t need to be cow’s milk, look for other milks.

Q: What are some of your favorite cheeses?

NH: Mountain style cheeses with long maturation periods as they are generous on flavor.

Q: What do you think of vegan cheese?

NH: I don’t.

Nick Haddow has also been involved in two other books: The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book and Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing. He is the 2017 recipient of the James Beard award for a ‘single subject’ book for MILK. MADE.


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