British-born Australian Will Studd has been working with specialist cheese for more than four decades, many of them handmade in Italy.
Having established a successful string of delicatessens in central London in the 1970s, Studd moved with his Australian wife, and then young children, to Melbourne.
Establishing a business importing European cheeses over the following thirty years, Studd is Australia's foremost cheese expert, champion of raw milk cheeses and Executive Producer and Presenter of the acclaimed Cheese Slices television program - the only television series in the world dedicated to documenting artisan and traditional handmade cheeses.
Across fourteen years and eight series, he has documented Italy's traditional and artisan cheeses in episodes stretching from north to south. Among them, Campania is in search of 'real' mozzarella, including buffalo mozzarella made from raw milk. In another episode he visits Sardinia, then on to neighbouring Sicily for Sicilian Pecorino, visiting one of the last farmhouse dairies making a saffron-flavoured cheese from ewe's milk.
Heading north to Tuscany he tastes Pecorino Toscano and goes in search of Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano. Further north he travels to the foothills of the alps to find the oldest cheese maker in Italy, and on to the Piedmont town of Bra, where the Italian-born Slow Food movement holds a specialist cheese festival every second year. In Lombardy, he finds Gorgonzola and cave-ripened Taleggio, Italy's most famous soft cheese.
Italy's most famous hard cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano has long been considered the king of Italian cheese. It is produced by almost 500 small dairies in a strictly designated area of northern Italy, and its age and origin are guaranteed by the DOP (Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta) hallmark.
Studd imported his first wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano into Australia in 1981. Under his 'Will Studd Selection' label of cheeses, he now sells a rare two-year-old Parmigiano Reggiano. The cheese is selected by his friend and Parmigiano expert, local Giorgio Cravero.
Handmade in the San Pietro dairy in the Appennini hills of Modena from the raw milk of a small herd of fewer than 100 cows, the cheese is matured at the dairy for six months. Giorgio then grades and chooses the best cheeses and takes them to Bra for ripening. At two years of age, the cheese is ready - Will describes it as, “succulent and moist with a nutty texture. It has a complex fruity, caramel sweetness that is very different to the dry and often bitter cracked cheeses matured by the large cooperatives.“ This is largely because the San Pietro dairy produces just six wheels of Reggiano a day, and Giorgio's careful care in some 700+ days that follow before it is shipped to Australia.
View the Italian episodes of Cheese Slices
Selected by Will Studd cheeses - www.willstudd.com