A couple weeks ago I crossed something major of my bucket list. No, I didn’t jump out of an airplane (although I have done that before), I got to see how cheese is made AND I was able to milk a cow in the process!
Thanks to Savencia, I was given the opportunity to visit Lena, Illinois to visit one of their facilities and learn all about a new cheese they were launching. If you haven’t heard of this small town, don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either! However, I guarantee you’ve had some of the products produced there. Ever heard of a brand called, Alouette, haha? Yeah, that’s made there!
Upon arrival, I found out that Savencia was launching a new cheese called Dorothy’s Cheese and the story behind was just as magical as the taste. Dorothy is an extraordinary woman (more on her in a second) and I got to sit down with her son and some of the minds behind the new product line.
Dorothy grew up in a hardworking, cheese-making family. She learned a lot from her dad and on occasion, she would be brought in to work amongst the men. When she turned 18, she wanted to go to school for Dairy Science, however, back then, this wasn’t an option for women. Despite being from a family of successful talented, cheese enthusiasts, she was rejected from the University of Wisconsin for being a woman.
Most may have given up, but, Dorothy kept going. She had a dream and nothing stood in her way.
She applied to Iowa State University and was offered a spot in the program. She spent the next few years hoisting milk cans, carrying 40lb blocks of cheese and turned the cheese-making world on it’s head. Dorothy was the first woman in the world to earn a degree in Diary Science. Talk about a pioneer! She pushed the boundaries of gender roles and paved the way for women in the industry.
After graduating she came back to Lena with her husband (who she met during the program) and took over Kolb- Lena. The success the facility sees today is because of her. While Dorothy is too old to continue working hands-on, her family and the incredible workers make sure that her legacy has lived on.
To honor her, Kolb- Lena decided to debut two new cheeses, Come Back Cow and Keep Dreaming.
Come Back Cow, was created to represent the tireless work Dorothy put into her craft. She was known to work until “the cows come home”. The cheese is in a flower shape, tinged with orange and taste rustic and fragrant.
Keep Dreaming, was created to showcase the passion and optimism of Dorothy. Not many knew this, but she actually secretly dreamed of a day when she could create a unique, soft-ripened cheese with creamy notes that got a more robust flavor as it matured. This cheese is proof that dreams do come true.
After hearing her story and trying the delicious namesake cheese, we headed to Huneke farm to see where the cheese-making process begins.
This farm has about 75 cows that they milk twice a day. Not surprising, I hadn’t spent much time on a dairy farm but this was such an eye opening experience. Turns out cows, despite their size are amazing gentle animals. I was more than comfortable petting them, feeding them, and eventually milking them than I ever thought I would be. It was awesome to see that they’re fed very all- natural food (because no one wants hormones and additives in their cheese) and to watch the first step in the cheese-making process come to life.
The next morning bright and early we headed back to the factory to take the milk we extracted the night before and turn it into cheese.
We were gowned up, gloved, booted, and sterilized (a lot) before entering the factory. It was reassuring to see that food-safety and cleanliness it just as important as the quality of the product. Seeing the amount of cheese and all the different types being made was INCREDIBLE. We got to see Dorothy’s cheese being made and packaged. So, when I say we saw the whole process, we really saw it.
Dorothy’s cheese will be coming soon to Mariano’s and everyone needs to run out and get some before it’s all gone! The two flavors are different and I suggest trying both so you can compare and contrast the flavor notes. Considering I had a hard time not finishing off both, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either of them.
While you enjoy that tasty bite, think about Dorothy. Think about the trailblazer she was for us women and what that means for generations to come.