Being Swiss-Canadian, I have a soft spot for cheese modeled after old, classic recipes from the Alps. I also admire young, Canadian cheesemakers that take over the family business and bring these recipes to fruition. In my next life I hope to be born into a dairy farmer’s family so that I can follow suit.
Tucked away in Oxford County, 2 hours west of Toronto, Shep Ysselstein is doing just that. He is a third generation dairy farmer, the grandson of a Dutch immigrant who moved to Canada after the war in 1951. The skills he has learned have been passed down and further tuned through travels to Europe, mainly Switzerland, to bring home recipes only an apprentice could get their hands on.
The result is beautiful, artisan farmstead cheese with playful and light flavours bursting with sweet, lactic butter and floral clover. This cheese, created after the Swiss recipe for Mutchli, is named in honour of the bountiful harvest of Oxford County, the dairy capital of Canada. Gunn’s Hill Farms is well set up to host tours and sell cheese from the shop on site. They also have a “cheesemaker for a day” program taught by Shep himself.