Event report: Cheesemaking Workshops

29 April 2015

ASCA Professional Cheesemaking Workshops with Ivan Larcher, April 2015

Imagine taking everything you know about cheesemaking, and turning it on its head. It’s a challenging proposition, but one with huge rewards for those who are open to thinking differently.

20 ASCA Cheesemaker and Start-Up Cheesemaker members were up for that challenge, when they attended our Professional Cheesemaking Workshops in Sydney and Melbourne in April. Presented by world renowned cheesemaking consultant and educator, Ivan Larcher, the theme of the workshops was From good milk to great cheese: achieving perfect control of the cheesemaking parameters to make the cheese you want.

Ivan’s approach is to provide a toolbox of practical techniques for understanding each step of the cheesemaking process, from the quality of the milk, right through to the maturing of the cheese. These methods don’t require expensive or complicated equipment, and can be easily implemented by small-scale, artisan cheesemakers.

This approach is highly flexible, and allows individual cheesemakers to adjust their methods according to seasonal variations in the milk they use, and for each type of cheese they make.

“If I just wrote recipes for cheesemakers, I could write hundreds and make a lot of money – but they wouldn’t work,” said Ivan at the Sydney workshop. “Instead, I give you the tools to understand your milk, and adjust your methods depending on the composition of the milk.”

    

ASCA’s Professional Cheesemaking Workshops featured a good mix of lectures, discussion and collaboration, and a few laughs.

A “show and tell” session on the second day of the workshops allowed cheesemakers to get practical feedback on cheeses they had brought in. Not only were cheesemakers in awe of Ivan’s ability to quickly assess technical issues and provide practical solutions, they were open to feedback from the other cheesemakers too. It was a reminder that we don’t often have opportunities for discussion and knowledge sharing between members – something which ASCA aims to address in future.

Participants in ASCA’s Professional Cheesemaking Workshops included some young guns, as well as members of the old guard.

ASCA thanks Ivan Larcher for visiting Australia to provide this world-class educational opportunity for our cheesemakers. We also thank the cheesemakers who participated in the workshops, and provide some of their feedback below.

Here's what participants said about the workshops:

"Ivan’s ability to transfer cheesemaking knowledge and science into practical hands information that can be used by the cheesemaker is exceptional.  He is the best I have seen at doing this. The information he possesses and willingly provides on all aspects of cheesemaking from the milk through to affinage will help you improve your cheesemaking. You will make better cheese.  I highly recommend Ivan’s workshops to anyone involved in any aspect of artisan cheese manufacture."

Graham Redhead, Cheesemaking Courses & Equipment

"Ivan Larcher's workshops have been invaluable in helping me to raise my Cheesemaking knowledge to a much high level.  He provides a range of skills and a technical understanding of Cheesemaking which has enabled me to troubleshoot my own problems through an understanding of the Cheesemaking process.  Ivan is a true teacher who loves to share his knowledge of Cheesemaking and has a genuine interest in helping me improve my craft.  His knowledge is both deep and broad, something that has been lacking to date in Australia.  If you are serious about producing high quality artisan cheese Ivan's workshops provide essential skills to add to your technical 'tool box'. "

Paul Wilson, Cheesemaker, Nimbin Valley Dairy

Two of us from Grandvewe Cheeses attended our third Ivan Larcher workshops this year. The focus of the workshop was to deal specifically with working proactively from a microbiological perspective, in order to control and manage better quality and more consistent outcomes for artisan and farmhouse cheesemakers. Whilst the prospect of two full days of talking cheese-related micro might sound about as inspirational as chewing on cardboard, somehow Ivan manages to engage us all enthusiastically. For a fellow whose second language is English, Ivan’s ability to engage and simplify complex micro issues never ceases to amaze us!

Nicole Gilliver & Diane Rae, Grandvewe Cheeses


Coming up in November:

Ivan Larcher will visit Australia again in November, when he will focus on individual cheesemaker consultancy sessions, exclusively for ASCA members. For more information about booking a 1- or 2-day consultancy session with Ivan, please email ASCA Secretary Alison Lansley

     

One-on-one consultancies provide cheesemakers with the opportunity evaluate their cheeses and cheesemaking methods, and troubleshoot problems, at their own premises.



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