What to Read Next

What Does It Take To Be A Master Cheesemaker?

admin
14 January 2013

Text and image by Catherine Ling @ Makansutra

What Does It Take To Be A Master Cheesemaker?
What Does It Take To Be A Master Cheesemaker?

For nearly 50 years, Rolando Giovannacci honed his skills as a master Italian cheese maker. He has shared insight with cheese companies in Europe, Africa and the Americas on aspects of cheese-making, from artisanal to large process operations. Most recently, he helped PT Greenfields create mozzarella in Indonesia – it’s the first dairy in Southeast Asia to achieve that.

And yet he says it’s not the years of experience that makes a good dairyman, but the willingness to learn, patience, creativity, the ability to gauge the milk and, in particular, the imagination to create a cheese.

“In Italian jargon, it is called ‘a hard apprenticeship’, but we can term it as ‘willingness to learn’ and ‘sacrifice’. The cheese is like a living organism and must be ‘pampered’. We must be able to recognize when it needs moisture or heat, for example,” says Rolando. “The milk will not talk. You have to understand it.”

In his career he learned to work with all types of milk and several types of cheeses: lactic curd (Philadelphia), yogurt, uncooked cheese (Camembert), semi-cooked (Fontal), cooked cheeses (Parmigiano) and melted cheese, for example.

Each type of cheese has its own production and aging process, temperature and humidity requirements; every one is unique and individual.

“They cannot be considered ‘dairymen’ those who know only one type of milk or can do only one type of cheese. You must be able to produce any kind of product with all types of milk (cow, sheep, goat, buffalo…),” he adds.

Rolando had followed his father’s footsteps, but cheese was truly his destiny and passion. He was struck by the charm of creativity in producing any type of cheese: the result of a thousand different facets, flavours so soft and, maybe, at the same time, spicy. The smell emanating from a fresh cheese or an aged, well-seasoned block would enrapture him.

50 years ago, he muses, it was a very different industry. Everything was manual. There were no fridges. They worked every day and didn’t store milk. Rolando has seen the industry change but it’s kept him even more keenly interested in the development and making of cheeses.

Cheesemakers in Italy often train at different dairies to enhance their own experience. There are some schools but they are expensive and there is no accreditation. You learn and develop your own skills and judgement. Rolando rattles off with ease and detail cheese-making specifications like a living production manual. But there’s more to it than just knowing facts and numbers.

“Training can only teach you so much. You have to work with milk which continuously varies in its characteristics – for example, the seasonal differences affecting the milk’s fat content, or different flavours due to the origin of the pastures. Add to that all the other variables that we encounter. Do you think that mere technical training can guarantee success? It takes poetry…but a good product is worth striving for – it is the best reward!” says Rolando.

Of all the cheeses he’s worked with, Provolone is one of the hardest to make. True Provolone (not the machine made variety) is a cheese entirely handmade in a small scale, in forms from 120kg onwards. Parmigiano cheese is more expensive to manufacture because of its low yield (500 liters of milk to make 35kg) and for the curing time (minimum 18 months of seasoning). Fresh cheeses are the least expensive because these have higher yields and are sold immediately after production.

The cheeses that he personally prefers for their scents and flavours are, in fact, Provolone and Parmigiano (cow’s milk), Roquefort, Danish blue (from sheep’s milk). Rolando says cheese was born for red wine, and thus likes a glass to accompany his meditation. The man indeed knows and loves his cheeses, as a master cheesemaker should.

10 Ways to Generate Income in Retirement

If you have a $500,000 portfolio, download the guide by Forbes columnist Ken Fisher’s firm. It’s called, “The Definitive Guide to Retirement Income.”

How To Make Sagging Skin Look Tight and Lifted

[Watch] The easy and effective way consumers across the country are improving the look of their wrinkled and sagging skin without cosmetic procedures.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

Have your W-2? File taxes free this weekend

The IRS is accepting returns. File your simple Federal & State taxes for $0 at TurboTax w/Zero hidden costs. Fed Free Edition.

Hilton HHonors™ Card

Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points. Apply for Your Card Today.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Military Mortgage Rates In 2016

Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Develop a mobile strategy for delivering wages

Going Mobile with Wage Payments Can Be Beneficial to Your Employees

Don't Let Wrinkles Stop You From Meeting New Women

Men: Before you consider spending thousands on getting a cosmetic procedure to look younger, you should..

Switch and save!

Switch to Progressive and you could save an average of $548.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

10 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.

Looking for a girlfriend?

No games. Just real women looking for a mature guy. Find the right dating site for you!