Japanese Cheesemaking Exchange
Hot on the heels of culture’s Made in Japan article about the burgeoning Japanese cheesemaking industry, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr Ryota Nakao, a Japanese cheesemaker who has been spending two months in Wisconsin.
Mr Nakao, who is employed by Yotsuba Milk Product Company in Hokkaido, is taking part in a training exchange program facilitated by the Babcock Institute of Wisconsin.
A non-profit organization that is part of the University of Wisconsin, the Babcock Institute was established in 1991 specifically to promote collaborative international exchange of information, research and practices within the dairy industry. As well as providing opportunities for Wisconsin cheesemakers to intern overseas, many of Babcock’s outreach programs focus on countries with newly emerging dairy businesses, helping to foster market development.
As a result of this program, Mr Nakao has been able to spend valuable time with several Wisconsin cheese producers such as Bob Wills of Cedar Grove and Chris Roelli at Roelli Cheese as well as at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison.
In Japan, Mr Nakao specializes in making technically-challenging varieties of cheese. His latest creation is a style of blue camembert and his expertise has resulted in a stimulating exchange of knowledge between Yotsuba Milk and Cedar Grove Cheese.
As well as working with cow’s milk, Cedar Grove also produces several varieties of cheese made with sheep and goat milk. This has led Mr Nakao to work with sheep and goat milk for the first time, a learning experience he seems to be greatly enjoying and is looking forward to sharing with other cheesemakers once he returns to Japan.