South Australia has another feather in our cheese-making cap with the passion and skills of Kym Masters at Section 28 Artisan Cheese.
Given that Kym Masters, Section 28 cheese maker, has his premises based just ten minutes up the road from me in the Adelaide Hills you’d think that I’d have been on his doorstep and sticking my nose into what he’s doing there ages ago, wouldn’t you? I’ve certainly chatted with him and tried his outstanding product, but a visit to his magic cave, like too many other things, has been on a fairly long “gunna” list of mine for a while now. However, it was worth the wait.
Kym has a successful career as an investment banker, but taking the opportunity to draw a couple of deep breaths after the global financial crisis, he opted for a road (much) less travelled in the banking world – that of the artisan food producer. Tucked into limited space in a couple of shipping containers on a back street in the Adelaide Hills, Kym is hand-making his version of some of the famed European alpine cheeses, with a view to condensing the essence of the region into the flavours of his product.
Every week day Kym turns 500 litres of locally produced milk into about 55 kilograms of his Section 28 Monforte, fashioned after the French Comté, and Mont Priscilla, inspired by Morbier cheese, another French favourite. He is also working on a local version of the delicious, soft Italian Toma, a cheese I grew to love during my time in Piemonte last year.
Kym has a small area dedicated to cheese production and, adjacent to that, is the real business end of things – a totally climate-controlled room where the cheese is aged. His Monforte is aged for 6-9 months, the Mont Priscilla is aged for 90 days and the Toma for 60-90 days. Tucked away in a darkened corner he also has a special reserve Monforte which he is aging for 12-15 months.
This cheese is certainly turning heads and can now be found on quality cheese boards in restaurants and up and down the eastern seaboard, but Kym is no one trick pony. Committed to truly getting the essence of the Adelaide Hills into his cheese Kym is aging some semi-hard rounds with native spices such as bush tomato, native pepper and aniseed myrtle, while others are being washed with local wines and apple cider.
Happily for local cheese-lovers, we have some remarkable cheese makers here in South Australia and Kym looks to be adding to our growing reputation for excellence in Australian cheese. Keep an eye out for these unique high-quality, hand made cheeses – you can find them at Smelly Cheese in the Adelaide Central Market, Bottega Rotolo and the Panorama and Frewville Foodlands