WHEN a French expert says your cheese is as good as he’s tasted, you know you’re making a Legendairy product.
Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese, now based at Fish Creek, is making big waves in the food world – with Asia the next frontier for passionate cheesemakers Barry Charlton and his partner Cheryl Hulls.
The business was visited recently by French cheese exporters who have been watching the development of Barry and Cheryl’s cheeses for several years.
From their small factory overlooking Wilsons Promontory, Barry and Cheryl produce cheeses that have won more than 100 top awards, including multiple World Cheese Awards and just about every honour in Australian cheese-making competitions. They are also consistent winners at the prestigious Australian Grand Dairy Awards.
For Barry, however, the awards come second to the ultimate reward for any food maker.
“It’s a pleasure to watch people sit down and eat your produce and say: ‘Wow, that’s absolutely beautiful’,” he said.
“I love making cheese. It’s a challenge and that’s what I like.
“I lay awake at night thinking ‘what can I produce?’ It has to be something that people will like, but something that is a bit different.”
What doesn’t keep Barry awake is worrying about the quality of his milk supply.
Living and working among the rolling green hills of South Gippsland means cheesemakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to high quality milk with which to make their products.
Their cows’ milk comes from Berrys Creek – from the same farm where Cheryl grew up – while their buffalo milk comes from near Woodside and their goat’s milk from Yarragon.
“The milk is very important to us, so we use hand-picked farms with high quality milk,” Barry said.
“We look at the herd and the mix of cows to see if they are going to produce the milk we need – and then you rely on the farmer to be very good at what they do.”
While Barry and Cheryl source their cows’ milk from just one farm – Hutchinsons in Berrys Creek – they recognise that they live in a region with a reputation for producing some of the world’s finest milk.
“We are really proud of what we do but also what our milk producers do,” Barry said.
“We have some of the best farming country you’d see here in Gippsland – it’s prime country.
“At the end of the day, our farmers produce great milk and that allows us to turn it into top products.”
Dairy Australia’s Legendairy initiative aims to highlight the extraordinary achievements of people like Barry and Cheryl, who are helping to grow Australia’s $13 billion dairy industry.
New frontier for cheese champions