Today, Wisconsin artisan cheese is making a name for itself. Grocers have whole sections of their markets devoted to serving Wisconsin Cheese connoisseurs, chefs point out when they are using Wisconsin artisan cheese in their dishes, and the nation is raving about the distinct taste of a 15-year–aged Wisconsin Cheddar.
Pastry chef Mindy Segal understands the artisan movement well. In 2008 and 2009 Segal served as guest chef for Outstanding in the Field, an event that draws together local farmers, chefs and food artisans to celebrate the connection between farm and food and she plans to participate again in 2010.
Segal’s restaurant, Mindy’s HotChocolate, is inspired by seasonal, local ingredients and boasts American artisan philosophy. Nationally acclaimed and locally treasured in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, HotChocolate’s menu concentrates on highlighting the Midwest.
Since the opening of HotChocolate in 2005, Segal has been working with Wisconsin Cheese as a chef ambassador*.
On Working With Wisconsin Cheese: When I first became a chef ambassador, I went to Wisconsin to tour the dairies and meet the cheesemakers. I got to see the whole process, which was an amazing experience. I met Sid Cook from Carr Valley Cheese, and at Roth Käse I went into the cheese caves. Very memorable. I enjoy working with artisan cheese. Particularly cow’s milk cheese. Wisconsin has excellent cow’s milk cheeses.
Wisconsin Cheese Favorites at HotChocolate: We have a lamb sandwich with Carr Valley Creama Kasa. People say, ‘I dream about that sandwich.’ It’s not just the combination of all the flavors and the textures that make this sandwich, it’s really the cheese.”
Favorite Wisconsin Cheese: I really like Dunbarton Blue. We use it on the pork belly salad
– seared pork belly, seasonal rhubarb, frisée and Dunbarton Blue. Segal also uses Wisconsin’s Widmer’s Cheese 4 year-aged Cheddar on her signature hamburger, topped with organic bacon and a fried farm egg.