Debra Allard is the unassuming personality and cheesemaker behind Cheeses Loves You, a local cheesemaking workshop she runs regularly from the Burringbar Hall.
She decided she liked people more than she loved business (the business of cheese manufacturing that is) and while this is true, she also loved cheesemaking. So, the natural course she’s taken combines her love and passion.
Debra spends her time between creating mouldy products and moulding the skills of new home-cheesemaking protégés.
Debra is truly a cheesy lady, so if you’re turned off by pert and quick-witted people, and you hate passionate teachers, you’re lactose intolerant, or you’ve perhaps just turned vegan – then look away now, hide someplace and don’t come out until the next issue of The Good Life.
I must disclose that cheeses are some of my favourite people.
You may find me in the corner at a party speaking gently to a well-made brie or quark. A good St Maure, firm goat, ash-white-mould, can get me all teary, sogging up my crackers. So, if you’re the type of person who can get intimate with cheesecloth, or up close and personal with blue or Stilton, then you’re not alone.
Cheesemaking is becoming a local craze in the northern rivers and Cheeses Loves You is in the business of moulding minds – just out of Mooball (I love the name of this suburb; it lends itself to nearby cheesemaking).
‘I love networking with other chefs in the region. Francisco, of Francisco’s Table fame, is very supportive along with Robert Costanzo from Nomadic Kitchen. Belinda Jeffery is my sounding board with cheese and ideas, and she’s attended a class too.
‘I don’t want to name drop as it does sound a bit wanky; however, the support I receive from foodies is tremendous,’ Debra told me.
‘The main idea of my classes is to demystify the process of making cheese using fresh local milk. I usually obtain only pasteurised milk from Norco for my classes, although at home I play with fresh raw local Jersey milk and sometimes I use this raw – although mostly I pasteurise the raw milk myself.
‘Some people are happy to attend one class, then they see how hard it is to make 10 litres of milk into cheese. Others become as addicted to cheesemaking as I am.
‘The latest love of my life (I do feel sorry for my family) is cloth-bound cheddars. I’ve learnt this art from one of the best cheddar makers in the UK, Mike Reeve. Mike, who is in Australia with his family, is running Mt Tamborine’s Witches Chase Cheese.
‘I’m so addicted to this cheese, even though it requires nearly two hours of hand-stirring the curd, and I’m doing so many of them that I’ve had to purchase a second cheese fridge to mature them in. 2015 will be another huge year for me with lots more ideas, adventures and cheese education,’ Debra added.
If you’re interested in joining Debra in a moulding of the minds there are two options: a cheesemaking workshop in the Burringbar Hall or perhaps a beginner class at the Byron Community College in Mullumbimby.
To put curds in Debra’s whey contact her on mobile 0404 812 011 or the Byron Community College on 6684 3374.