Debra Allard, Owner, Cheesemaker & Educator 

I am based in Northern NSW and have a 3m x 3m room converted into a licensed dairy processing area. I make small quantities of cheese for a few cafes and one farmers market a fortnight

How did you get started in the industry?

I attended my first cheesemaking class 9 years ago with Carole Wilman and was hooked from the first moment. My ex business partner and I had a cheese factory for 4 years, then I taught home cheesemaking for 3 years. I am about to start a jersey dairy and cheese factory with my husband manning the dairy. Exciting times ahead!

Tell us a bit about your cheeses - what do you make? What makes them special?

I really enjoy making reblochon, brie and cloth bound cheddar styles. My haloumi is very popular and I have been told it is the best in the world! Jersey milk makes the best cheese, and the fresher the best.

What is your favourite part about being a cheesemaker?

Every batch of cheese is different. I have learnt more in the past 3 years since the original cheese factory shut down, and I can't wait to learn more. I love making cheese: I dream about it, I ponder aspects of it, I am mesmerised by it.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?

Every batch of cheese is different! Limited supply of cultures in Australia is a challenge. But doors slam shut - doors are thrown open.

What opportunities do you see for the future of the Australian specialty/artisan cheese industry?

The customer demands good cheese, it encourages me to make better cheese and push myself to learn more about the process. The cheesemakers are supporting each other more than they ever have. I have recently spent time in UK, France and Italy sharing experiences with other cheese makers and the Australians have so much to learn.

What does being part of ASCA mean to you?

There are more opportunities to network with each other, thanks to ASCA. I have been put in touch with Ivan Larcher who is such an inspiration, as well as other fantastic cheesemakers. Keeping me in touch with other cheesemakers inspires me to keep learning and making better cheese.