Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Roth Kase

Roth Kase USA celebrated 15 years of specialty cheesemaking last week in Monroe, Wis. by unveiling a new culinary education center that most chefs would kill for, as well as an affinage facility its cheesemakers already love. The company hosted a snazzy ribbon-cutting and anniversary celebration that drew more than 150 industry leaders from around the nation.

President Steve McKeon says the culinary education center has been part of Roth Kase USA's plans since the early days of locating in Wisconsin. (The company has European roots that date back to 1863 when 20-year-old Oswald Roth, a licensed cheesemaker from Niederbipp, Switzerland, founded O. Roth & Cie, a cheese company specializing in crafting and exporting Emmentaler).

The new state-of-the-art culinary facility, which was used during the opening celebration for the first time by "Taste This TV" host Chef Joseph Ciminera, is part of Roth Kase's two-phase expansion and marks the conclusion of three years of construction and planning. The new addition also includes an expanded affinage facility where cheesemakers age washed rind specialty cheeses, a spacious area to house the company's new brine system and an expanded packaging area.

Roth Kase USA is one of Wisconsin's larger specialty cheese companies. During the anniversary celebration, I found out they receive 350,000 pounds of milk per week from more than 80 local farms and serve more than 300 customers. Since its beginnings in 1991, Roth Kase has increased from 50 to 100 employees; increased its production and marketing from 3 to more then 50 varieties of cheese; and has earned more than 100 awards in regional, national and international competitions.

And by the way, their cheese rocks. My favorites are Vintage Van Gogh - crafted in limited quantities from fresh, full cream milk and aged for at least six months; and Grand Cru Gruyere - handcrafted in an imported copper vat and cured in their cellars. It's a very full-bodied, robust cheese that is true and even better than the classic Swiss original.

Here's cheering on Roth Kase for 15 great years of specialty cheesemaking in Wisconsin and hoping for 100 more!