Originally posted by Atlantic Restaurant News on September 23, 2014
NEW GLASGOW, PEI—Chef Jeff McCourt has taken the torch from P.E.I. Cheeselady Martina ter Beek, taking over production of her gouda and ramping up capacity at his recently opened Glasgow Glen Farm.
The 20-year foodservice industry veteran opened the new location in August on Lower New Glasgow Road in New Glasgow, PEI.
At a crossroads in his career, McCourt said he wanted his own business. Hearing a rumour the owner of Cheeselady’s Gouda Cheese was considering retirement, he approached ter Beek about taking over the reigns and in 2012, she agreed.
“I wanted to do something for myself and for my family. I’ve got two young children, nine and six, and it was very important to me that they grow up 1) with a good work ethic and 2) that I arm them with some skills,” McCourt toldARN.
He apprenticed with ter Beek in April of 2013 and, while the new store and production facility was under construction, McCourt operated the 25-year-old shop in North Winslow, PEI.
Already familiar with cheesemaking, McCourt learned “the art of her gouda. The gouda will always be Cheeselady’s gouda,” he said.
McCourt also apprenticed with Ontario-based Monforte Dairy’s Ruth Klahsen and adopted her Community Supported Agriculture-style, cheese-shares business model to help finance new facility.
“It was a great way to raise capital as well as build a customer base at the same time, because once they eat their share, they always come back for more,” said McCourt, who added it was wonderful to receive support from the community in this way.
Built on a 14-acre lot with strawberries and orchards, the new facility is 40 by 70 feet. “We’ve essentially tripled our storage capacity,” said McCourt.
Glasglow Glen Farm has also started deliveries and McCourt said they are placing more of a focus on foodservice clients.
McCourt had been buying cheese from the Cheeselady throughout his career and said he didn’t want the brand to disappear.
“I knew the product and it was something that has great brand recognition and a great history,” he said. “It’s one of those iconic P.E.I foods; she’s been here for so long, everyone knows Cheeselady’s gouda.”
McCourt will continue making her recipes as well as add some new varieties to the mix and has already introduced several new cheeses including caraway, smoked peppercorn, pizza, pesto and “bluda”, a blue cheese and gouda cross. He is also making a pecorino-style cheese with sheep’s milk and future plans include adding goat, fresh and feta cheeses into the gouda-based line-up.
McCourt said he takes a similar approach to creating new cheeses as to creating new dishes, testing and adjusting for flavour, colour and texture.
The new facility also has a large wood-fired oven for making bread and pizza to showcase the cheese.
A family business, McCourt is the Glasglow Glen Farm chief executive officer; his wife, Grace, looks after sales and marketing and manages the front of house operations; children, Finn and Molly, have already taken a role in helping at the shop; McCourt’s brother-in-law, Donald Younie, is the assistant cheesemaker; McCourt’s mother-in-law, Colleen Younie, manages the financial aspects of the business.