Bennington cheesemaker takes home first prize
BENNINGTON >> Maplebrook Farms at 435 East Road has been producing high quality cheeses for the North East for years. From top restaurateurs in New York City to local eateries in the Bennington area, those that have been buying and enjoying Maplebrook's mozzarella, feta and ricotta cheese can attest to its quality. Well, now Maplebrook has a few more accolades to add to their resume, and at the national level to boot. Maplebrook's cheeses have brought home four prestigious awards to show for all its hard work, two first place ribbons from the American Cheese Society, a third place ribbon, and a best in fest award from the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival.
Sitting down with Agela Abdullah, Maple Brook's sales and marketing manager, on Aug. 3, further details about the competition as well as Maplebrook's environment came to light.
"It's a magical time," Abdullah said, brimming with pride. Abdullah explained that out of over 1,000 entries, not every category is even awarded first place by the American Cheese Society (ACS), so to take home not one, but three first place prizes is quite the achievement. Granted this is not Maplebrook's first award for quality, but it is the first time in this particular competition.
Maplebrook's cream filled burrata, ricotta alta and fetta cheeses were the first place winners, while their smoked fetta also brought home the third place ribbon. "Every cheese starts with a perfect score," Abdullah explained, "and two judges, one for taste and one for quality, decide how to score them and take away points based on that." She elaborated that if a no entry scores above an 80 out of 100, then no prize is even awarded in that category.
Abdullah had been a cheese buyer for a Chicago store before coming to Maplebrook, and has a cooking background as well. When asked about her experience at Maplebrook, she attested "It's a wonderful environment." She went on to explain Mike Scheps and Johann Englert's dedication to their staff is very personal, hiring workers almost exclusively from town and teaching them cheese production from the ground up. Abdullah also coyly let on that Maplebrook may very well be moving into a bigger facility very soon, further expanding the successful business. "I don't want to jinx anything," she said "but everything but signing the papers is pretty much done."
Between the eminent expansion of and their numerous accolades, Maplebrook Farm is a testament to Schep's and Englert's vision not only for their own business, but the community of Bennington as a whole.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.