Evansdale Cheese

Evansdale soft cheese

Colin (now Colleen) and Lesley Dennison are true heroes of the artisan cheese scene in Aotearoa.

They started Evansdale Cheese in 1977 when they were living on a small property in Evansdale, just north of Waitati near Dunedin. Colleen had the idea when wondering what to do with the excess milk their family couldn’t use from their single Jersey cow. She hit the library and then built a factory next to their house. By their own admission their first cheese, a Monterey Jack, was something of a fail. That’s a common experience or artisans of all persuasions of course, and they quickly got the hang of it. They went from using about 150 litres of milk gathered each day from locals, to using over 1,500 litres sourced from Fonterra today.

Like so many artisan cheesemakers, they initially had other careers, in this case Colleen was a geography teacher and Lesley a nurse, and it was challenging getting up at 5.00am to collect and pasteurise the milk in readiness for the cheesemaker. They also went from four children when they started to six children by 1980 – they were busy! Sons Pablo and Matthew started helping after school, and growth meant they upgraded to a bigger factory up the road in Hawkesbury Village near Waikouaiti in 1997. Pablo is now running the factory as manager, ensuring Evansdale remains a family-owned business deeply-embedded in the local community.

‘A little taste of perfection” is their motto and they’ve got that right. We’re very proud each time to include one of their cheeses to our monthly cheese boxes.

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