Welcome to the Producer & The Chef Series!
Chef Ally interviewed her this last week at the Byron Farmer's Market.
- How long has Allard Dairy and cheeses loves you been established?
- Tell us briefly all that you make.
My goal was to make a cheese that someone will like. Everyone likes something different so I eventually stopped at 25 different products. I have a range of white mould soft cheese, about 6 hard cheeses, a blue, fresh cheese like ricotta, stracchino, mozzarella and fermented milk such as natural yoghurt and kefir.
- Your products are of outstanding quality what is your ethos behind them?
Small batches are the secret and I’m the only one making the cheese. I can tell if there could be a problem so I can fix it – this happens all the way through the process even knowing what is happening to the herd. Each time we introduce an ingredient in their diet it can affect the cheese. The Claude (Brie) is the one that triggers noticeable change if we adjust their diet.
- My personal favourite is your little Aud cheese, a truly remarkable product, what was your inspiration behind this cheese?
I love the French version of Little Aud which is Chaource. It’s what they call a Lactic Acid cheese, the pasteurized milk is set at room temperature for 24 hours with a mesophilic (mild temperature) culture, white mould powder and a tiny amount of non-animal rennet (Byron shire attracts vegetarians…) the next day the curd is scooped into tall hoops with small holes to drain for another 24 hours. Day 3 the firm curd is carefully cut into small rounds and lightly salted with Olssen salt and the Little Aud has a slight dusting of ash, Chaource has no ash. Day 4 the Little Auds are transferred into my aging room at 12C and high humidity for a week or two, or three if you like a stronger version. This means the cheese is at room temperature for up to 3 or 4 days. People who rush their cheese home to put it in the fridge because they are scared of it getting warm make me laugh. I have called it Little Aud because my 2nd daughter Audrey is petit just like the cheese.
Debra's Cheese aging
- Other than collaborating with handsome talented chefs, what is the best part about your job?
The handsome chefs make all this hard work so worth it! Ally, you are so so supportive! I love the support I get from the food industry in this business and I love being a part of it. Turning beautiful rich milk into a whole range of cheese is amazing. I sometimes imagine how certain cheeses were developed, who accidentally dropped curd into hot water then discovered mozzarella! Someone with excellent note taking skills!
- Biggest challenge to date at the dairy.
The worry of vegans coming onto our property made me think twice about the animal photos I uploaded onto social media.
I have thrown out the rule book with my business model. I don’t wrap the white mould cheese, it takes time and is a waste of packaging. I sell most of my cheese at the farmers market where I can talk the customer through my product and I also get their feedback. I only deliver within a 20km radius of my factory, I say no if it doesn’t suit me. I make it, sell it, live and breathe it!
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