The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® Program was established as an advanced education program for experienced cheesemakers through joint sponsorship with the Center for Dairy Research, UW-Extension, and the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. In order to be accepted into the program, you must currently be making cheese in a Wisconsin plant and hold a Wisconsin cheesemaker’s license for a minimum of 10 years. Each Master candidate must participate in the program’s quality assurance component of plant and product inspection. This program, the only one in the U.S., enhances the quality image of what is already the nation’s premier cheesemaking state and the unparalleled standards of Wisconsin cheesemaking.
The purpose of the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® Program is three-fold:
1. Provide a formal sequence of courses that leads to the title of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker.
2. Add value to cheese because it was made by a "Master Cheesemaker," like those of European tradition.
3. Equip Wisconsin cheesemakers with the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the marketplace both nationally and internationally.
Must be an active licensed Wisconsin cheesemaker for at least 10 consecutive years before starting the program.
Before applying to the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program, Master applicants must be making cheese in a Wisconsin cheese plant, shall have had their Wisconsin cheesemakers license for a minimum of 10 years, shall have been producing the cheese they want to get certified in for at least 5 years and have taken an advanced cheesemaking and one elective short course specified by the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Board. Applicants also must have day to day involvement in the cheesemaking process and a fundamental knowledge of the entire cheesemaking production process detailed below. The involvement and knowledge requirements of each applicant will be assessed during the interview process.
Applicants shall have a working knowledge of the entire cheesemaking process (including milk receiving and processing) but must be involved in the day to day cheesemaking activities below.
- Vat operations
- Curd handling- salting, pressing, forming etc.
- Product aging/ripening
- Product quality management/troubleshooting
- Finished product evaluation and grading
Applicants shall have an elevated working knowledge of the following areas of dairy and cheese manufacturing for the cheese they are seeking certification in.
~ Fundamental understanding of your Food Safety Plan and Programs
~ Understanding of Wisconsin and Federal regulations surrounding milk, cheese production and cheese Standards of Identity
~ Milk composition and microbiology
~ Raw milk quality tests and factors that effect raw milk quality
~ General understanding of indicators of poor-quality milk and its effects on cheese
~ Starter Cultures
~ Factors effecting starter and coagulant performance
~ Cheesemaking procedures and processes
~ Cheesemaking parameters and effects on cheese composition
Cleaning and Sanitation
~ General knowledge of procedures and chemical use
~ Common cleaning issues in dairy plants
Cheese Evaluation, Grading and Defects
~ General organoleptic attributes
~ Typical defects and related causes
It takes 2 years and 8 months from the time cheesemakers are accepted into the Program until they graduate.
After being accepted into the Program each cheesemaker will receive regular updates on course work completed and any additional course work needed to finish the Program.
The Master’s Mark is an exclusive benefit for Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers. The Master’s Mark® may be used for marketing and promotional purposes through a licensing agreement with the DFW. To use the mark, the certified Master Cheesemaker must supervise cheesemaking in a Wisconsin plant that continues to participate in the quality assurance program.
This mark may only be used in conjunction with products for which the Master Cheesemaker is certified. A designated committee will evaluate these products on an annual basis.
The Master’s Mark® is a trademark of the DFW and may be used in connection with registered brands owned by the applicant. Other uses will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by DFW.
Master Cheesemaker 25th Anniversary
Become a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker
Each year cheesemakers must apply to the program by May 15th. Before applying for the program cheesemakers must take the Advanced Cheese Technology short course and another course required to complete the program.
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2022
BR | Ken Kane, Shawn Sadler, Gerard Knaus
FR | Matt Henze, Charles Henn, Jamie Fahrney
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2021
BR | Kirk Hansen, Steve Bechel
FR | Larry Harris, Brian Jackson
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2020
BR | Tim Pehl, Bruce Workman, Pam Hodgson
FR | Steve Stettler, Noah Deitelhoff
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2019
Mike Matucheski, Randy Pitman, Jonathan Stender, Bill Hanson, Gerard Knaus, Dan Szczepanski
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2018
BR | Ron Bechtolt, Dave Newman, Matt Erdley, Jeff LeBeau
FR | Larry Harris, Matt Henze, Chris Roelli
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2017
BR | Josh Krause, Steve Bierhals, Ryan Lagrander, Scott Barker
FR | Tom Dahmen, Rob Richter, Tom Torkelson
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2016
BR | Darrell Manning, Jeff Allen, Bill Hanson, Scott Navarre, Brian Jackson
FR | Gerard Knaus, Dale Schmidt, Jon Metzig, Bob Koenig, Tom Jenny
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2015
BR | Duane Petersen, Chris Roelli, Adam Buholzer
FR | Mike Matucheski, Steve Stettler, Ken Heiman
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2014
BR | Patrick Doell, Brian Renard, Paul Reigle, Bruce Workman
FR | Mark Gustafson, Michael Brennenstuhl, Christopher Renard
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2013
BR | Gary Grossen, Randy Krahenbuhl, Steve Hurd, Brian Jackson
FR | Dan Omundson, Pam Hodgson, Alan Greunke
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2012
Gerard Knaus, Scott Erickson, Tom Jenny
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2011
Steve Stettler, Tim Pehl, Mike Matucheski, Bruce Workman
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2010
BR | Jim Johnson, Randy Pitman, Mark Frederixon, Ken Heiman, Mark Gustafson
FR | Paul Reigle, Steve Hurd, Brian Jackson, Bruce Willis (not picuted)
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2009
Steve Tollers, Sid Cook, Gary Grossen, Ken Heiman
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2008
Tom Torkelson, Bruce Workman
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2007
BR | Terry Lensmire, Paul Reigle
FR | David Lindgren, Jerome Zibrowski
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2006
BR | Jim Demeter, Steve Stettler, Dave Buholzer
FR | Bruce Willis, Carie Wagner, Randy LaGrander
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2005
BR | John Moran, Gregg Palubicki, Gianni Toffolon, Steven Tollers
FR | Bruce Workman, Walt Brandli (deceased), Jeff Mattes
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2004
Richard Glick (deceased)
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2003
BR | Robert Biddle, Jake Niffenegger, Roger Krohn, Randy LaGrander
FR | James Meives, Myron Olson, Robert Wills
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2002
BR | Jamie Fahrney, Walt Brandli (deceased), Bruce Workman, Kerry Henning, Ken DeMaa, Gary Grossen
FR | Sid Cook, Kurt Heitmann, Allan Scott
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2001
Scott Erickson, Dave Metzig, Carie Wagner, Dave Lindgren, Duane Petersen
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 2000
Vern Kind, Dan Stearns, Richard Wold, Jacob Niffenegger, Myron Olson, Tom Blauert, Jeff Mattes, Jeff Wideman
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 1999
Ron Buholzer, Steve Buholzer, Dan Meister, Steve Stettler, Larry Steckbauer, Kerry Henning, Bruce Workman, Kurt Heitmann
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 1998
Ron Sullivan, Ken Nett, Joe Widmer, Scott Erickson
Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers – Class of 1997
Terry Lensmire, Randy Krahenbuhl, Tom Jenny