As anyone with a history in cheese will know that the world of cheese making is one of the most thoroughly thought out processes. For over 7,500 years, cheese has been considered an ancient art. In modern times, cheese has taken many different shapes and forms from processed cheeses to small batch artisanal cheeses.
Whether you are a cheese maker in Italy or Wisconsin, the process and patience should remain the same. Which is exactly what BelGioioso Cheese holds as their core philosophy. We had the pleasure of talking with the founder and president of BelGioioso Cheese, Errico Auricchio, to learn his story and why BelGioioso is the gold standard of cheese.
With a long-standing history in Italy, Auricchio is deeply rooted in the Italian Cheese making scene. “I spent my whole life in the cheese business in Italy. My family has been in the cheese business since 1879, I am actually the fourth generation in the cheese industry so there is an incredibly long history in cheese in my family,” said Auricchio. It was not until 1979 when they started the company in Wisconsin with Auricchio as the first employee, that the company started growing. In 1992, Auricchio bought it and became the sole owner.
From then Auricchio has taken a small Wisconsin based Cheese Company and has made it one of the industry leaders. Today BelGioioso Cheese has 28 cheeses and counting, not including their blended cheese packages. “The most important aspect for us is always quality. A lot of people say that people don’t care about quality cheese in food service and I don’t believe that is even slightly true. There is a need in the market for quality cheese production,” Auricchio concluded.
When BelGioioso was first starting out they chose aged provolone as their first cheese to produce. They would hand form the provolone into the giant provolone logs that you see hanging at your local Italian deli. “It wasn’t until we picked up that this American market was looking for sliced cheese that we began making sliced provolone,” Auricchio added. Since then the product line has skyrocketed into a vast product line of quality cheese. What makes BelGioioso stand out in a industry full of titans is that they are committed to making the cheese, not buying cheese and rebranding it under their own brand. Auricchio added that, “We produce everything ourselves, many other companies buy the cheese put their name on it and sell it, they are marketers, we are cheese makers.”
The artisan process at BelGioioso is what makes them stand out in the industry and with flavor. “With cheese there are thousands of different steps, and you might be tempted to cut corners to save some pennies, but those corners are what makes it our cheese,” Auricchio added. What brought BelGioioso to Wisconsin is the quality of the milk; there are so many dairy cows in Wisconsin that they literally outnumber humans. Auricchio saw this as an opportunity to be able to purchase milk from cows less than half an hour away. Today BelGioioso has an artisanal process that their cheese making staff is trained in.
The actual cheese making process takes place in their state of the art facilities that are scattered in Northeast Wisconsin. BelGioioso cheese process starts with their cheese makers growing their own starter cultures every day, for those who don’t know the starter cultures are considered the roadmap to the flavor. Starter cultures are what help develop the specific flavor of the cheese. After the cultures are added to the fresh milk the BelGioioso cheese makers begin the transformation from milk to cheese. The curd is tested and the wheels are formed then the cheese makers turn every wheel of cheese every day by hand to ensure consistent absorption and distribution of salt on all sides. This is how BelGioioso is able to produce a solid cheese body, uniform color and cheese with the right amount of salt with a clean finish. It is after that point that BelGioioso goes into their air-drying room, where all their cheeses aside from Mozzarella are put in naturally to remove moisture. Then it’s off to the aging room for a slow, tedious process and requires the cheese maker to wait patiently to see the results of their labor. The Wisconsin based company prides itself on their ability to follow every step of the authentic cheese making process.
Now today, this major cheese manufacturer produces some of the finest fresh mozzarella cheese and a wide variety of award winning dry aged cheeses. With a whopping 40% of sales being the company’s Mozzarella products, the Wisconsin based cheese manufacture is now coming out with a new cheese call Artigiano.
“Artigiano is actually artisan in Italian, and the cheese is aged 5-6 months, and is covered in red wine or balsamic vinegar to offer a specific flavor profile for our customers,” Auricchio concluded. It’s through these types of authentic processes that BelGioioso is able to stand out in the retail and food service market alike. We are excited to see what the future holds for the award winning, Wisconsin based, Italian cheese maker, BelGioioso.
To learn more about BelGioioso, visit their website.