Edible Omaha

Big Win at American Cheese Society Competition

Photo by Alexis Abel
Photo by Alexis Abel

Dutch Girl Creamery

Charuth Van Beuzekom put her Nebraska-made goat cheese on the red carpet this summer, at what can only be described as the Academy Awards of Cheese, officially known as the American Cheese Society (ACS) competition. Charuth is the cheesemaker behind Dutch Girl Creamery, a Lincoln-based goat dairy that is part of Shadowbrook Farm. Dutch Girl Creamery is a farmstead dairy, meaning the cheese is made with milk from the creamery’s on-site herd.

Rosa Maria, her entry to the ACS competition, is a take on a Spanish-style aged cheese and won first place in the Farmstead Goat’s Milk Category. Two other Dutch Girl Creamery cheeses, Natalie in Grey and Garden Herbed Chèvre, both were awarded third place in their categories. Charuth’s cheese stood out among a crowded field of contenders. This year’s event, held in Providence, Rhode Island, had 1,779 entries from the United States, Canada and Mexico competing in a range of diverse categories.

This big win is the culmination of over seven years of recipe development. After receiving some sage advice from an early mentor to “make the type of cheese that the market needs,” Charuth set out to create the aged, flavorful goat cheese that would become Rosa Maria.

Finding the perfect balance of bold, complex flavor combined with a supple texture took a while to get right. One key to the eventual success of Rosa Maria was only making it seasonally in the spring and fall when the milk is the richest. The higher fat content of spring and fall milk carries and amplifies the grassy, floral notes that come from Charuth’s pasture-fed goats.
The final piece came together when Charuth was given a treasure trove of colorful vintage vegetable colanders by a British cheesemaker to use as cheese molds. The molds give Rosa’s natural rind a unique, star-shaped basket pattern that sets it apart in a crowded cheese case.

In a telephone interview, Charuth talked about what winning on a national level can mean for a small-scale Nebraska cheesemaker. “Brand recognition is key in the cheese case. It’s so easy to get lost in the crowd. There has already been a huge response from larger distributors, bloggers and restaurant owners. I didn’t fully understand what a difference this award was going to make.”

Rosa Maria and all of Dutch Girl Creamery’s other European-style soft ripened and fresh goat cheeses can be purchased at Open Harvest in Lincoln, Whole Foods, the Omaha and Lincoln farmers markets and tasted on the menus at many local restaurants.

—By Abigael Birrell