SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The Artisan Cheese Exchange made a big splash at this year’s Wisconsin State Fair.
In fact, the Sheboygan-based speciality cheese maker is making noise on the national and international stage.
“We’re smaller,” said Chris Gentine, founder of The Artisan Cheese Exchange and Deer Creek Cheese. “What we try to do is work with fabulous cheese makers around the state to help bring some of the ideas we have to life.”
And they’ve done just that, winning three first place awards at the fair and five awards overall. Gentine, a licensed cheese grader, said there’s no greater honor than to have his cheese considered among the best in the world.
“To win it at home in the cheddar class, with the judging at the level it is in the state of Wisconsin — you know because we’ve won more awards than any other country as a state and I think all the other states combined — to win this at our state fair is pretty prestigious,” he said.
Gentine said he and his wife develop the ideas behind the cheeses they’d like to make.
“A lot of times it’s my wife and I or our family. We’re sitting around talking about things and we’ll grab different things out of them,” he said.
“This cheese came out of that fact that my wife loves vanilla bean ice cream,” Gentine added, referencing a particular cheese they make.
Gentine said while competition is fun, it’s also helpful.
“It’s kind of cool to be involved in these things and to know either where you’re doing really well or where you miss the mark. And that brings on that continual improvement that we feel is super important,” said Gentine.