A new artisanal cheese company aims to be udderly original in the Ontario market.
Udder Way Cheese, which had a soft opening last weekend in the old Gos & Gris factory in the Hamilton community of Stoney Creek, is making several flavours of lactic soft goat cheeses using a traditional goat pyramids recipe from France.
“I’m basically the only cheese maker in Ontario that’s offering that kind of product right now,” says owner Tor Krueger, who has also co-owned The Cheese Shoppe on Locke in Hamilton for more than six years.
Krueger, who decided years ago that “cheeses were my passion” received certification from the former Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese a few years ago and began looking for an opportunity to start his own cheese making business.
He jumped when the opportunity to lease the factory came up a few months ago. The almost 11,000 sq. ft. property is owned by the family that owned Salerno Dairy, which was bought by Gay Lea Foods.
“Now we’re full steam ahead and having a lot of fun doing it.”
The company is producing five flavours of cheese with names like Snow Peak and Chili Billy.
“Our philosophy has been really trying to make artisan cheese approachable,” says Krueger, explaining the reasoning behind the names. “I really wanted to make fine cheese but not be intimidating.”
About 500 litres a week is being produced by the three employee firm and it’s being sold at The Cheese Shoppe, as well as in Krueger’s new factory store and in local restaurants.
He’s in talks with an Ontario grocery chain and distributors and has a “quasi sales-partner” with many U.S. contacts.
Krueger also aims to obtain federal certification to sell his cheese across the country, something his counterparts who make the same type of goat cheese in Quebec don’t have. That means adhering to Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards and making factory upgrades like installing seamless flooring.
Obtaining the certification “is going to open a lot of doors for us,” says Krueger, who has so far invested more than$100,000 in Udder Way Cheese.
Krueger, who expects to double his employee count early in the New Year, has an agreement with the Ontario Dairy Goat Cooperative to supply him with up to 20,000 litres of goat milk a month. The milk “is in short supply so we made sure we have an agreement with them.”
Next year, Krueger also plans to offer basic cheese making and tasting classes. “Cheese making is at the cusp” and is where craft brewing was a number of years ago in Ontario, he says.
Not only are people interested in learning about fine cheese, but “they’re tired of getting stuff off the grocery market shelves that’s on an industrial scale.” People will notice the difference in quality with his cheese, he says.