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Cheese made with liquid smoke is "way overblown, the smokiness. It’s all you can taste," she said. But with Gold Creek, you "can taste the subtle milkiness of the cheese. You get the nuttiness of the Parmesan and that smoke flavor, too."
On a recent day, the cows — which were picked for their rich, yellow milk that produces a high butter-fat content — were out in the pasture munching on hay and slurping from buckets of mash leftover from whiskey production at the High West Distillery. It’s another way Chavez-Sandoval tries to eliminate waste.
Other award-winning Utah cheese
Gold Creek isn’t the only Utah cheesemaker racking up national awards.
Wasatch Back Jack, a pepper jack made with salsa by Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, was recently named the best-flavored Monterey Jack by the American Cheese Society, the same group that lauded Gold Creek. That group also gave Heber Valley a second place for its Cascade Raw cheddar and its Queso Fresco Verde. It awarded Gold Creek’s Salted Black Italian Truffle butter second place.
The awards are a big boost for the small operations as they sell their cheeses to markets and restaurants.
“It means a lot when you say, ‘You’re using the country’s best pepper jack in your dish,” said Russel Kohler, one of the owners at Heber Valley.
The fourth-generation dairy farmers only recently turned to cheesemaking, in 2011, when selling milk wholesale became a money-loser. Kohler said his 250-head heard of Holstein-Friesian cows are free to roam on pasture, and he has moved away from feeding them corn to avoid genetically modified organisms.
“We’re just striving to get the best-quality milk on the dairy. It makes great cheeses,” he said.
Harmons carries both brands of cheese and plans to keep adding more flavors, said Shauna Durrant, the grocer’s specialty cheese merchandiser.
“People need to look in their backyard and see what’s out there,” she said. “You still have a lot of people who don’t realize Utah has some award-winning producers.”
"It’s all about we love what we do," he said of the farm’s success. "And it’s reflected in the product."
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