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Award-winning cheese

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Matthew Brichfordworks onmixing truffles with curdsto make his Briana with truffles cheese. Prior to making cheese with his wife, Leslie Jacobs, Brichford worked in grass farming. Their cheeses have won several national and international awards since they began six years ago.
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These molds are used to shape some of the cheeses before they are aged. The process is different for each type of cheese, and after the cheeses are molded they are aged fordifferent periods of time. Some take many months to age correctly.

By BRANDON TOWNSEND - btownsend@newsexaminer.com

Cheese makers in Connersville have received national recognition by winning second place in two different categories at the American Cheese Society Judging and Competition in Pittsburgh.

Matthew Brichford and Leslie Jacobs own Jacobs and Brichford Cheese at 2957 Indiana 1. Their Alpine-style Everton cheese won second place in the American Cheese Society’s Farmstead Cheese Category this summer. Their Everton Premium Reserve cheese, which is aged longer than the Everton cheese, won second place in the American International Style Category.

“We don’t expect to win,” said Jacobs. “Winning doesn’t come easily for us. When we do win, it’s a really cool feeling.”

The two types of cheeses recognized in the contest are among nine cheeses manufactured at their plant, which also include Adair, Ameribella, Briana, Briana with truffles, Tomme de Fayette, JQ, and Phetamias. Each type of cheese has its own unique process for being created.

According to Brichford, nearly 2,000 cheeses were entered into the contest. The awards are only two among many the married couple have won with their cheeses.

At the 2015 US Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin, they won third in Open Class Smear-Ripened Semi Soft cheeses with their Briana and third in Open Class Soft-Ripened Cheeses with their Ameribella. At the same contest in 2017, they placed first with Everton Premium Reserve and second with Briana in the Smear Ripened Semi-Soft Cheese category.

They have won awards at the World Cheese Contest on several instances. During the 2015-16 competition in England, they won bronze for their Everton. At the 2016-17 Spain competition, they won gold for Everton Premium Reserve and Silver for Briana. At the 2017-18 England contest, they won silver for JQ and bronze for both Everton Premium Reserve and Briana.

They have placed at the Good Food Awards in 2014 with Ameribella, in 2015 with Everton, and in both 2016 and this year with Adair. At the American Cheese Society in 2016 they placed second with Briana with Truffles in the Flavored Cow Milk Cheeses category.

“There are so many wonderful cheeses out there,” said Jacobs, “and to expect that any of ours would possibly win, what are the odds of that?”

Some of the couple’s cheese has been featured in the most recent season of the comedic drama Orange is the New Black, a Netflix series that takes place in a women’s prison. The cheese is a prop in the series, and is cut and wrapped by some of the inmates.

Jacobs and Brichford have owned their cheese manufacturing plant for six years.

“I started in 1995 with the intention of making cheese.” said Brichford. “It just took me 17 years to get around to it.”

During these 17 years, Brichford took some short courses to educate himself in cheese making and visited cheese manufacturing plants in France. He did much of the building and assembly of his plant himself.

According to Brichford, about 80 percent of the work done at the plant is sanitary work to keep the environment clean and keep the cheeses sanitary as they age.

The couple’s dairy farm is instrumental in providing milk that is taken back to the plant and used to make cheese. Their farm has the first New Zealand-style open air dairy parlor in Indiana, meaning the cows are not in a fully enclosed area while being milked.

Jacobs and Brichford use three different breeds of cow for their cheese making: Jersey, Normande, and Tarentaise. 

“Our cows are 100 percent grass fed for cheese quality and for the perceived health benefits,” said Brichford. “We do not feed them grain.”

According to Jacobs, their cheese is available for purchase at the Fayette County Farmers Market. It is also available at some Kroger supermarkets, the closest of which is in Harrison, and various cheese shops in Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

For information, call Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheese, 765-692-0056.