Trout Point Cooking & Wine School, Trout Point Lodge of Nova Scotia, Canada
in cooperation with the Institute of Sustainable Gastronomy
Class in Cheese Appreciation and Cheesemaking 2009
Your instructors during the cheese course:
Charles Leary and Vaughn J. Perret
Leary and Perret were among the first group of North Americans inducted into the French Guilde des fromagers during a special ceremony at the American Cheese Society meeting in Madison, Wisconsin in 1994. They have experience as farmstead cheese makers, affineurs, marketers, and restaurateurs, including establishing innovative wine and cheese programs. They have designed a built creameries in Louisiana and Nova Scotia, Canada and managed both dairy goat and dairy sheep operations, including dairy sheep importations into both the U.S. and Canada.
From 1990 to 1998 they operated Chicory Farm in Mount Hermon, Louisiana. Chicory Farm produced some of the most celebrated American artisanal cheeses of the 1990s, including products from every major cheese category, i.e. pasta filata, soft and surface ripened, washed-rind, pressed, hard-pressed and from cow, goat, and sheep milk.  In 1995, they opened their own New Orleans restaurant, the Chicory Farm Cafe, which featured their cheeses both in cooking and in cheese courses. Chicory Farm also won a competitive research grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for research in sustainable dairy sheep production for tropical and sub-tropical conditions, leading to the award of the first annual Tibbetts Award from the Small Business Administration, a national honor.
Perret and Leary educated themselves in cheese production over many years, however they came from substantial professional and educational backgrounds. They worked closely with Richard Graham at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to develop sanitary and inspection protocols for small cheese plants. At Chicory Farm, they both produced their own goat and sheep milk, and purchased cow's milk from a nearby small dairy farmer. Leary attended the Washington State University Cheesemaking Short Course, and both investigated French cheese production and marketing in France, including Loire goat cheese production under the auspices of ITOVIC and a special inspection of Androuet's famed cheese shop and restaurant in Paris.
Chicory Farm cheese became renowned in the U.S.,
particularly due to their application of
French cheese production and affinage techniques in the Louisiana environment.
    • Chicory Farm cheese were served by many of the top restaurants in the country, including not only New Orleans favorites like Emeril's, Brigsten's, and Commander's Palace, but also Picholine, Le Bernardin, and Gramercy Tavern in New York, the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, Everest in Chicago, and Bacchanalia in Atlanta.
    • Chicory Farm cheese were featured at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado and at a Mobil 5-Diamond Chef Awards Dinner
    • Chicory Farm's Catahoula was named one of the two favorite American cheeses of Max McCalman, then of the restaurant Picholine in New York. (Interview with Florence Fabricant, New York Times, 1997)
    • Chicory Farm's cheeses selected by Marrion Burros, New York Times, for her 1996 Christmas gift recommendations: "From CHICORY FARM comes an interesting assortment of cheeses. Catahoula is for those who like cheese that's sharp, smelly and creamy; Orleans is not unlike Brie -- soft and buttery; St. John is a semi-soft cheese of cow's and goat's milk or cow's and sheep's milk. "
    • Chicory Farm cheese exhibited at the Fancy Food Show, 1994, along with the French cheeses of Chantal Plasse.
    • Catahoula singled out by Murray's Cheese Shop owner Rob Kaufelt, New York Times, 1995
    • Chicory Farm became member of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade: "the Fancy Food Show can also be counted on for some good, new, serious products . . . worth noting were . . . distinctive Chicory Farm cheeses made in Mount Herman, La. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, 1995.  "Cheeses? Capriole introduced Piper's Moon, a soft-ripening Camembert-style chevre. An excellent whole-milk mozzarella and a mild Gruyere-style St. Helena were new from Chicory Farm. " Florence Fabricant, New York times, 1996
    • The French cheese buyer for Dean & Deluca declared, upon tasting Chicory Farm cheeses in 1995, "the Americans have finally learned to make cheese."
    Leary and Perret then sold Chicory Farm and went on to found the Acadian Farm Creamery in southern Nova Scotia. Here they achieved approval both from provincial authorities and from the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency for a new artisanal cheese plant working with goat and cow's milk. Among the cheeses produced here were a natural raw cow's milk blue cheese. Marq DeVilliers writing in Food & Wine magazine noted: "It is mature, aged for two years, every bit as good as a high-end Stilton. The cheese is made from unpasteurized local milk and from molds that exist naturally on the farm, giving the cheese a unique character." They also made natural-rind pressed cheeses featured by the National Post. They closed the creamery to focus on their work at Trout Point Lodge in 2002, where cheeses are featured in cooking and in cheese courses, and they offer short courses on cheesemaking and appreciation. At Trout Point they have also developed a program on cheese and wine pairing, using the Lodge's 130+ bottle wine list. They have published recipes in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Food & Wine, Harrowsmith Country Life, and Louisiana Cookin'. Their first cookbook was published by Random House in 2004 to critical praise. Charles Leary has an honors undergraduate degree from Kenyon College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. Vaughn Perret received his B.A. from Loyola University, studied graduate anthropology at Tulane University, and got his Juris Doctorate from Cornell. They have worked as culinary instructors since 2000.

    "This led me to Catahoula, a cheese from
    Chicory Farm in Louisiana
    (no longer, I believe, made) - simply the best American
    cheese I have ever tasted;
    a funky bayou Epoisses."
    The Pink Pig

    Background photo courtesy of
    Cheese Class One Date Only:  October 16-18, 2009

    Three-day, two-night program includes accommodation at Trout Point Lodge, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, all meals, and cheese classes. Each day of the course includes  a half-day of instruction, allowing for free time to enjoy Trout Point Lodge, a wilderness resort in southern Nova Scotia.

    Day One: Welcome and Introduction to Cheese Types and Styles;
    Basic Methods of Cheese Production; Defining artisanal, specialty,
    and farmstead cheeses; Survey of cheeses worldwide
    Cocktail & wine reception

    Day Two: Hands-on cheesemaking seminar on fresh cheeses including creme fraiche, pasta-filata, and chèvre. Students will learn kitchen-based techniques also applicable to small-scale commercial production or
    home-cheesemaking. Also:
    cooking with cheese.

    Day Three: Cheese tasting and course on how to
    construct a cheese course; Storing, ageing, and affinage;
    Cheese & wine pairing

    Price: CAN $799 per
    person (double occupancy).
    The class begins around 3 pm
    on the first day
    and ends with lunch on
    the third day.

    The Cheese Class will expose participants to the enjoyment of cheese as well as the broad range of cheese manufacturing and aging, but with an emphasis on specialty and artisanal cheeses of both the Old and New Worlds. Topics covered will include understanding basic cheese production techniques, milks (sheep, cow, goat, buffalo) and the importance of milk quality, small-scale cheese production, fresh versus aged cheeses, cheese typology, the basics of affinage, as well as wine and cheese pairing and serving a cheese course. Students will make fresh cheeses on a small-scale, and also be exposed to a broad range of different cheese types through tastings.
    This course of study is appropriate for:
    E-mail for reservations: