In an exciting new step for Klondike Cheese Company, two long-time cheese makers have completed the arduous tasks that come with Master Cheesemaker certifications. Now that the two have completed the certifications required for this standing, the cheese company now has six Masters on deck.
The two received their Masters with different focuses. Matt Erdley’s certification was in Brick and Muenster cheeses, while Ron Bechtolt’s was in Muenster and Havarti cheeses. The two were among seven total graduates in this year’s course of study, with only 72 cheese makers throughout the whole country who can claim the prestigious title every year.
“Being a part of the program means being surrounded by gifted cheesemakers, getting recognition for the skills you have and pushing yourself,”said Erdley. “When you’re surrounded by people who care about their work, it becomes a part of your culture, and that’s what we have in Wisconsin and particularly at Klondike.”
According to a press release, Erdley married into the Klondike Cheese empire, which runs four generations deep, where he has been making cheeses for nearly two decades.
Bechtolt joins in on his excitement with his own sentiment of gratitude.
"To be able to use the Master seal is a sign of high quality cheese and it's an honor to be able to show what it means to be a Master,” stated Bechtolt.
Starting out his cheese-making career with Klondike, Bechtolt has spent the last 20 years dedicated to the craft.
Ron, Dave, Steve, and Adam Buholzer of Klondike are also of the honorable ranks. The two newcomers to the masters ranking received their certification awards at the International Cheese Technology Expo banquet on April 19th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and it is administered by the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) and the Center for Dairy Research (CDR). One of the requirements to be admitted into the program is that cheesemakers need to be a licensed cheesemaker for a minimum of 10 years. Once qualified for admittance, cheesemakers take several courses with the CDR, participate in quality checks, and take a thorough test that takes most seeking the Masters certification about 60 hours to complete. All in all, the program takes about three years to finish with a Masters certification, but once finished, those who walk away with a Masters in cheesemaking gain honor, respect, and a feeling of accomplishment in their field, as well as the right to use the Master Mark® on their products.
Congratulations to Matt, Ron, and the whole Klondike Cheese Company team! We look forward to seeing how the accomplishments benefit the company and lead to future successes.