SA cheesemaker plans for new home in state-of-the-art manufacturing plant

Celebrating 30 years of success in cheesemaking, South Australian family business La Casa Del Formaggio has recently announced their move to a new state-of-the-art cheese manufacturing plant, to be built in 2020.

Renowned for their award-winning cheese products including ricotta, bocconcini, mozzarella, pecorino, parmesan, haloumi and burrata, La Casa Del Formaggio will expand from their current site at Glynde, north-east of Adelaide, to the Northern Adelaide Food Park.

The food park at Edinburgh Parks about 25km from the CBD is a food processing and manufacturing hub allowing businesses to innovate and collaborate with industry to access international markets.

La Casa Del Formaggio’s managing director, Claude Cicchiello, says the business is currently in the master planning stages of what they believe will be one of Australia’s best cheese manufacturing facilities.

Cherry bocconcini being made in the Glynde factory.

“I feel very fortunate we’ve been able to do what we love for 30 years, and we’re excited at the opportunity to expand our operations,” he says.

“The world-class modern facility will allow us to continue to produce cheese and dairy products for the Australian consumer, foodservice and export markets.”

Claude’s parents Gerardo and Rosa Cicchiello, migrants from Italy, started the business in 1988. It grew slowly and organically from its origins as a small operation supplying only the Cicchiello’s own continental deli, before higher demand saw the deli close and the cheesemaking operations take centre stage. Today, the business employs 130 people and supplies fresh cheese products Australia wide.

“Our family introduced bocconcini into the Australian market,” Claude says. “It was a product that was foreign to many families who were not used to enjoying fresh cheeses in their meals.”

“However, our local European community was certainly glad to find the product available, and over time we educated consumers through recipe sharing and cooking demonstrations.

“We also had a bit of luck in the early days with celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver using the products in his recipes.”

Claude’s sister Marissa behind the counter at La Casa Del Formaggio’s retail shop.

In the early 1990s Claude successfully implemented manufacturing processes that enabled the bocconcini product to be transported from the manufacturing facility onto supermarket shelves. The bocconcini products are still their number one seller.

“The Australian palate has certainly changed over the past 20 years. I remember a time when it was all about cheddar, with some blue and a little brie, but the demand for fresh cheese has taken off,” Claude says.

“We’re always keeping a close eye on European cheese trends, and our traditional hands-on cheese making techniques allow us to develop these products for the Australian market.

“Last year we launched our burrata – a delicate shell of fresh mozzarella that encases a decadent filling of stracciatella (mozzarella shreds soaked in cream), and it’s already proving to be very popular.”

Claude, left, and his father Gerardo in the factory.

Claude says making a consistent high-quality fresh cheese is not as simple as following a recipe.

“The milk from which you make the cheese changes regularly, and our cheese-makers need to adjust accordingly – it really is an art,” he says.

Along with the new facility at Edinburgh Park, Claude looks forward to maintaining a presence at their current location in Glynde, with a small cheesemaking operation and sales outlet open to the public.

“We still want to honour our home,” he says. “I love South Australia and I couldn’t imagine doing business and living anywhere else.”

Burrata features a delicate shell of fresh mozzarella encasing stracciatella.

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Woodside Cheese Wrights in for a slice of the USA

Self-taught cheesemaker Kris Lloyd is celebrating the next milestone in her business Woodside Cheese Wrights which is now exporting to the USA.

The Adelaide Hills cheesemaker’s first shipment has landed and is being distributed to major cities including New York, California, Boston and Connecticut.

“It’s taken quite some time and reams of paperwork, but we are finally able to get the shipment across the line and we are thrilled,” says Kris.

“It’s incredible to see stores in the US on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posting about our cheeses.”

Kris’ renowned Monet flower cheese has already made its way to the Big Apple with new packaging that extends the product’s shelf life from two weeks to six.

The Lemon Myrtle Chévre, Saltbush Chévre and the Artisan Buffalo Persian Style Feta are also hitting the shelves.

Stores stocking the 100% SA-owned cheeses include Plum Plums Cheese in Pound Ridge, New York, which Kris says sold out of Monet as soon as it arrived.

Woodside Cheese Wrights CEO Kris Lloyd with the famous State Brand shaped Monet. Photo by James Knowler / JK+Crew.

Woodside Cheese Wrights products can also be spotted at Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market in Connecticut and Hudson Valley Connect in New York.

With follow up orders already in the system, the Woodside cheese factory is preparing to send its second shipment.

Kris says there has been particular interest in Woodside’s native cheese range, which she has been producing for more than a decade with ingredients such as saltbush and lemon myrtle.

“It makes me realise, once again, that we should not take for granted what we have in our own backyard,” she says.

“This is something they don’t have so we can truly be competitive and give the distributor we are dealing with a point of difference to add to their portfolio.

“We are also working on trying to get Anthill – a goat cheese covered in Australian native green ants – to the US as well, as there is so much interest in that cheese.”

The Anthill caused a buzz among foodies in 2016 when it came 11th in a line-up of more than 3000 cheeses from all over the world at the World Cheese Awards.

Kris Lloyd was among the international judges.

Fellow judge Stephanie Ciano, who heads up the US Distribution Agency, describes Woodside cheese as “beautiful and delicious”.

“We are excited to have these lovely cheeses produced by Kris now available in the USA as they are a great representation of Australian terroir, tradition, and innovation,” she says.

Aside from her pursuits at Woodside Cheese Wrights, Kris is also behind Adelaide’s Cheesefest – an event celebrating the world of cheese – which is being resurrected in October after a three-year hiatus.

In 2017 she ran the inaugural Ferment the Festival in Rundle Park in 2017 which included not only cheese, but other fermented foods such as chocolate, bread, spirits and kombucha.

It is understood that Ferment will this year be incorporated into Cheesefest on October 27 and 28.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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Story of growth for Angaston’s queen of cheese

Barossa Valley artisan producer Victoria McClurg has come a long way in her cheesemaking pursuits since crafting her first ever camembert in 2003 at home at the kitchen sink.

Now her Barossa Valley Cheese Co has settled into its new fit out after a near $1m expansion that has increased the business’ total footprint threefold.

Staff numbers have also more than doubled to 18 people.

Victoria says the expansion, which kicked off in 2014 and was boosted by a $200,000 Regional Development Fund grant, was necessary as the cheese tasting premises often reached visitor capacity.

The production cellar had also outgrown its facilities, she says.

The Barossa Valley Cheese Co cellar door and factory in Angaston has undergone significant expansion in the past three years.

“We were at a point where we couldn’t fit everyone … it was pretty intense,” she says.

“We’re now offering innovative opportunities for visitors that we weren’t able to provide before, which brings people to our business and contributes to the regional community.”

Barossa Valley Cheese Co has diversified from an earlier focus on only soft cheeses to include semi-matured varieties.

Production now reaches up to 10,000 litres a week, with milk sourced from the Nietschke dairy farm north of Angaston.

“The Nietschke family enable us to use 100% Barossa cows’ milk for the authenticity and integrity of our flagship products,” Victoria says.

The Barossa Valley Cheese Co has supported local dairy farming family the Nietschke’s since day one.

Victoria originally studied winemaking and travelled to Bordeaux, France, where she claimed a new appreciation for premium food and wine experiences.

Like Adelaide, Bordeaux is part of the Great Wine Capital Network, an exclusive cluster of nine cities which are internationally recognised wine regions.

But instead of falling deeper in love with wine while in Bordeaux, Victoria found her calling – cheese.

“Life was so simple in Bordeaux, everyone would sit down with friends and family, just enjoying being in each other’s company with a fresh bowl of produce in front of them,” Victoria says.

“That’s what I wanted in my life when I came back to Australia.”

Upon her return to Australia, Victoria moved to Angaston in 2003 and began “experimenting at home at the kitchen sink” with cheesemaking.

She soon mastered the craft and launched Barossa Valley Cheese Co in the main street of Angaston with her mother, Frances.

Pairing cheese with wine? Done before. Try a match making session with tea, cider or gin!

By 2008 their cheese had been crowned grand champion at the Australasian Cheese Competition for two consecutive years.

Over time Victoria has built a reputation for her washed rind cheeses, in particular the ‘bitey’ Barossa Washrind.

Her philosophy is to “keep culture alive by bringing heroes to the table and using what we have got”.

This mantra is evident in her loyalty to the local dairy industry and her integration of other Barossa products into the cheese cellar door experience.

“We offer cheese pairings with local wines, cider, beer, gin and tea,” Victoria says.

“The Barossa has an amazing reputation for its offerings.

“We aim to keep the culture and diversity alive.”

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