I have known Willi for about 5 years now. He makes about 20 different kinds of cheese in the Städtlichäsi Lichtensteig near his home in Alttoggenburg.
In 2006, Willi decided it was time to take all the cheeses he wanted to make out of his head and actually make them – he did this in 30 days! Now he has become one of the most successful cheese creators in all of Switzerland.
We visited Willi about four weeks ago and he showed us around his small cheesery.
Willi was brought up on a farm, and when he was a child, his father would bring milk into the kitchen and Willi could name which cow it had come from. His brother is now running the family farm and is one of his suppliers of Jersey milk.
In Dominik Flammer’s book “Swiss Cheese” (the very best book I know on Swiss cheese – available in English, German & French) Willi says:
“I will happily leave the large-scale production of pasteurized pseudo-Alpine cheeses to the factories. And he adds, heatedly, that Switzerland really should hold on to the high quality of raw milk cheese.
After all, there really is no other country that has such a deeply rooted tradition; in France, only a fraction of the cheese is really made from untreated milk. (…) I personally fetch my milk from the farmers and bring it to the dairy. It only takes minutes from there into the cauldron.”
One of the main things that is important to me when it comes to food is traceability. And Willi certainly knows which field his milk has come from!
While he was showing us around, my daughter Eva asked what the tub full of water with some cheese in it was for? Willi replied, smiling: "That's where I take a bath every morning!"
He was great with our kids, and has three of his own. One of his children even made drawings which are used as labels for the cheese. Willi is a man with a big passion about making cheese, and it shows in his products:
I also love his Bergmatter (which he sometimes uses for an excellent Fertigfondue) & the Mühlistein (which is a great original semi-hard cheese like the man himself!). Willi also makes goats and buffalo milk cheeses.
"What is in it? In the cheese? In the milk? Our roots are in there, what else," declared the Schmid Willi, as he is known around here.
Switzerland is lucky to still have Willi! He was thinking of moving to New Zealand before he had a family...
(via Fergus Miller)