Australian cheesemakers benefit from the expertise of French cheesemaking consultant, Ivan Larcher
By Carmen Bateson
Since 2013, ASCA has organised biannual visits from French cheesemaking consultant and educator, Ivan Larcher, to help Australian artisan and farmhouse cheese makers develop their technical understanding of fermenting milk into cheese. The general feeling among participants is that, previously in Australia, we didn’t have access to the expertise that Ivan brings and shares with us in a highly informative and frequently entertaining way. Following is a collection of thoughts from ASCA cheesemakers who recently attended all or part of Ivan’s four-day workshop in March this year.
In listening to people’s feedback from the workshop it became very apparent that participants appreciated the regular contact with Ivan, with over half the participants having attended one or more of Ivan’s workshops in the past. Rosie Cupitt from Cupitt’s Fromagerie in New South Wales states “…it’s the third of Ivan’s workshops…I learn so much every time I speak to Ivan.” This is reiterated by Paul Wilson of Nimbin Valley Dairy: “Another great course by Ivan…I go to all Ivan’s courses…thought provoking and challengeing.”
Tamara Newing from BoatShed Cheese in Victoria sums up a workshop with Ivan by stating, “Once again Ivan exceeded expectations! His wealth of knowledge and approachability makes him a perfect teacher and his notes are a concise resource once the course is finished. Money well spent!” Kai Woltmann from Second Mouse Cheese in New South Wales agrees: “…every penny worth it.”
Perhaps one of the most informative comments made was made by Burke Brandon of Prom Country in Victoria: “Ivan’s cheese making theory workshops are a must-do on my calendar. They are an invaluable opportunity not only to re-enforce the principles of cheese making, but also bring all the components of the world of cheese together in an easy to understand format….a great ASCA initiative.” This is important for ASCA, as it means we are on the right track and we are representing our members’ needs.
As our membership grows, we observe the diversity of who is attending and benefitting from Ivan’s workshops. This diversity has been welcomed by ASCA with all participants bringing a different experience to the workshops, and as Burke comments, it offers participants “a chance to network with peers in an industry that is often geographically isolated.” Sally George from Island Pure in South Australia agreed in acknowleging she “could learn from the people around [her]…amazing.” Susan Deeble from Cloud 9 Farm in Victoria not only “enjoyed the interaction with other cheese makers” but later found some new equipment for her facility.
This willingness to share information, ideas, problems and equipment was a common theme in all participants’ feedback. Ann-Marie Monda from Holy Goat in Victoria highlighted “the camaraderie and contact with other people…the first time I felt I’m not alone and we can work together to make better cheese…and Ivan is essential in that,” a sentiment ASCA actively aims to grow.
The expressions of appreciation and excitement about Ivan’s presence goes beyond his workshops to ASCA’s collaboration with NCDEA in their webinar series. NCDE webinar coordinator Jenny Penfold said feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, stating “it was by far the best webinar we have ever had.”
In recognition of the value ASCA places on cheesemaker education, we will be offering an ASCA member the opportunity to attend Ivan’s next workshop at no cost. Cheesemaker and Start-Up Cheesemaker members will be eligible to apply; keep watching the ASCA website for details and make sure your membership is current.
Thank you to all who took the time away from their farms and/or cheese rooms to participate in the workshop and contribute to some very open and stimulating discussions. And bravo to Ivan for making these journeys to Australia to help us collectively develop our industry.
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