Tucked away in a quiet lake town in Wisconsin is an unassuming set of buildings that holds a decadent secret: cheese! Millions of pounds of cheese!
Headquartered in New Jersey, Schuman Cheese is a fourth-generation family-owned company which happens to be the leading importer/producer of hard Italian cheeses in the United States. Schuman Cheese is a powerhouse in every corner of the cheese industry. Their mission is to enhance everyday eating experiences with the highest quality cheese.
What? You’ve never heard of them?! While you most likely have not heard of Schuman (formerly Arthur Schuman), I will bet a wheel of cheese that you have had a blissful moment or ten while enjoying one or more of their artisan creations.
Recently, six food influencers and writers were invited into the largest of the Schuman Cheese production facilities. This tour marked the first time Schuman had ever opened their doors for a full immersion tour experience. We learned, we watched, and we feasted on cheese. We even visited NorSwiss, one of the four family dairy farms that supply this particular facility with its 280 million gallons of milk per year.
Fun fact: Two hundred eighty million pounds of milk equals 28 million pounds of cheese. Just 10 percent of the milk turns into actual cheese. However, every bit of what remains is used in other ventures.
Huge wheels of Asiago, Parmesan, fontina, romano, and my favorite, Copper Kettle Parmesan, are found floor to ceiling throughout the plant in various stages of the cheesemaking process. A delicious byproduct of that cheesemaking is Schuman’s incredibly light and delicious mascarpone cheese. Watching the mascarpone being packaged was mesmerizing — and the smell was incredible. Beautiful wheels of Fontina are being lovingly hand-rubbed with incredible blends of flavors like Habanero Lime and Tuscan. Quietly aging in a room run by just a handful of people is Schuman’s first cache of Alpine-style cheeses,the first of their kind that Schuman has produced in the U.S.Quietly aging in a room run by just a handful of people is Schuman’s first cache of Alpine-style cheeses,the first of their kind that Schuman has produced in the U.S.
Schuman Cheese has been around since 1945. Back then you couldn’t just walk into your local market and pick up a hunk of Parmesan cheese to enjoy at dinner. Luckily for us, Arthur Schuman wanted to change that. He began importing large amounts of good-quality hard Italian cheeses. As the business grew so did his aspirations, and later Schuman began to make hard Italian cheeses right here in the U.S.
Today, Schuman still takes the creation of their high-quality artisan cheese very seriously, as evidenced by the mountain of trophies that accent their offices, won over the last 70 years at various prestigious U.S. and worldwide cheese competitions.
At the helm of Schuman’s cheesemaking process is their French-born head cheesemaker, Christophe Megevand, who talks with excitement and passion about all things cheese. Cheese takes time to make. It needs care and is actually difficult to make well. As Christophe says, “what Schuman does and wants is the highest quality cheese possible,” and it all starts with the milk. From the comfort of the cows to the characteristics of the land, from the feed to the water to the air quality in the barns, the ecosystem of each dairy farm affects the end product. So the team at Schuman strives for perfection throughout every part of the cheesemaking process, from the farms to your table.
The cheesemaking experts that make Schuman the award-winning producer that it is today take both their artistry and their craft seriously. Case in point: Three years ago Christophe took a class at ENIL — École Nationale d’Industrie Laitière, or the National School of Dairy Industry, which operates under the French Ministry of Agriculture and set the standards for European cheesemaking — and met instructor Julien Rouillaud. This marked the beginning of an incredible relationship which became the foundation of an exciting, exclusive five-year partnership with the prestigious ENIL. For Schuman Cheese, it’s ultimately a game-changer for how cheese is made — and will be made — by Schuman. Together, Christophe and Schuman, along with Julien and ENIL, bridge two different communities of cheesemakers that, while they may not speak the same language, certainly share the same passion.
Julien now comes to Schuman twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, to work with Christophe and his cheesemakers and intimately teaches French techniques and cutting-edge science as it relates to cheese production.
Schuman touches every part of the cheese world in the U.S. (as well as outside of the country), branding under various names. Schuman has decided to step onto the stage themselves under the brands of Cello and Yellow Door Creamery.
Cello has taken consumers by storm with their amazing Cello Whisps, which are addictive and delicious. Little rounds of cheese crisps (Cheddar or Parmesan) — and that’s it — made with 100 percent real cheese and nothing else. If you are watching your carbs, these little crisps will become your new best friend. If you are looking for protein-packed snacks, these are for you. Follow along via their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news, special offers, recipes, and more.
Cello also makes my absolute favorite Parmesan cheese: Copper Kettle Parmesan, made in huge copper vats that impart both a unique taste and color. I’ve not had any Parmesan quite like it. I also have to say that the Cello marscapone will make you weak in the knees — it is incredibly delicious!
While visiting the cheese plant in Wisconsin, we were lucky enough to sample an unbelievable variety of cheeses. One standout: the little flavored mascarpone balls that were enrobed in chocolate. Unbelievable! The mascarpone was simply swirled with strawberry and raspberry jam and dipped in chocolate. They also mixed some with coconut and did the same. It was a crowd favorite.
Cello products include:
— Cheese Whisps
— Copper Kettle Parmesan
— Organic Parmesan
— Parmigiano Reggiano
— Artisan Parmesan
Yellow Door Creamery, meanwhile, has a variety of innovative cheeses to choose from. During our cheese tour, we sampled everything! My favorite Yellow Door Creamery products were:
— Harissa Hand-Rubbed Fontina
— Tuscan Hand-Rubbed Fontina
— Habanero-Lime Hand-Rubbed Fontina
— Bergamot-Hibiscus Hand-Rubbed Fontina (not in retail yet)
— Alpine Cheese Collection (to be released in retail later this year)
The third and fourth generations of the Schuman family continue to be innovators in both quality cheese products and production. In addition, they began using the cheese industry’s first “mark of trust.” The “True Cheese” seal signifies that the cheese product was made with only milk, cultures, salt, and enzymes and was aged properly. Schuman introduced the concept to help combat reports of adulteration and fraud among certain cheese products.
Cheese may be good, but quality cheese is great, and one of the simple pleasures in life! Look for Schuman Cheese and both their Cello and Yellow Door Creamery products at the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show this summer from June 25 through 27.