Handmade, locally crafted and award-winning cheese in Wyong
What started out as a simple question of ‘how do you make cheese?’ has resulted in an award-winning range of cheese products that are locally made and handcrafted by Sue and Russell Parsons of Little Creek Cheese. Going about their business, very quietly, Sue and Russell have not only gone about crafting truly delicious cheese but have created a business that they love and are truly passionate about.
Next time you're passing through Wyong a visit to the Old Wyong Milk Factory is a must, along with a stop at this awesome little cheese shop to chat with cheesemaker Russell who we caught up with to find out just how this all came to be.
When did the Little Creek Cheese first begin?
We’ve been in business for just over 9 years now. Before Little Creek Cheese, Sue and myself were working at Coles, and making cheese was just a hobby we did at home.
Going from a hobby to a shopfront is a big step, how did you first test your product out initially?
Someone once asked me how do you make cheese? I didn’t know so I invented the answer. I did, however, Google it and realised that you could buy a cheese making kit, so that’s what we did, but you know what it’s like, if you make something and give it to your friends and family they’ll say it’s the best thing ever when really it’s not.
We didn’t want that falseness so we invited our family around for a cheese board and they all wanted to know what brand of cheese it was they were eating. When we said that we made it they said, ‘no what brand of cheese is it?’ So we actually had to prove it to them by showing them the cultures that were stored in the fridge.
It was at this point that we decided we should go into the cheese-making business.
You have a really extensive list of products from yoghurt to fetta, haloumi, labnas, and cheddars is everything made on-site at the Wyong Milk Factory?
Yes, all the Little Creek Cheese branded products are hand made here at the Factory. We do have other products for sale that we don’t make, such as the imported cheeses.
How big is the team now?
There are just three of us myself, Sue my wife, and Alex.
Are you able to source your milk locally?
Unfortunately, the local production of milk stopped in 1994, all of our milk comes from Little Big Dairy Co in Dubbo and our goat milk product is sourced from a wholesaler.
Your haloumi cheese has won Gold three years in a row at the Sydney Royal Easter show and your Garlic and Dill Marinated Goat Feta won Gold and Reserve Champion at the Royal Hobart Show. What’s been the secret to your success?
We’ve won 180 awards over 8 years, all I can put it down to is that it’s a love. We eat cheese every day, if we see a new product around we’ll try it out, but more importantly we listen to what our customers say and make adjustments to the products based on this.
At the moment we’re on our 7th or 8th attempt at making Brie, up until now we haven’t been happy with what we’ve made so we had to stop and regroup to work out how can we improve it. Hopefully this time we can get it to work.
So do you have any products in the pipeline?
We don’t have a time table for it, a lot of the time our products come from talking to customers and what they’re asking for. For example, someone once asked about Mizithra cheese, which I hadn’t heard of, so I Googled it and when we had some spare milk I decided to give it a go. We now have it in the range but we don’t call it Mizithra as that’s the name given to it in Cyprus. Similar to the naming of Champagne, the name references the location of where it is made, which is not critical in the cheese industry but it will change and we’re trying to stay ahead. Likewise with Haloumi, which we call B.B.Q Cheese.
Is Little Creek Cheese only available here at the shop in Wyong?
Outside of the Old Milk Factory we have our cheese stocked at a butcher in Dungog, and we’ve just started supplying to a butcher in Maitland. We also supply to about ten deli's on the Central Coast, as well as offering a home delivery service to people living on the Central Coast which goes as far north as Warners Bay. For anyone outside of those area you can purchase online and they’ll are couriered to your front door.
If you’re looking for an excuse to eat cheese Little Creek Cheese not only offer tastings from their shop at the Wyong Milk Factory but two bookable experiences which provide you with a tour of the cheese-making room, or the site itself if you have a little more time, along with a more structured tasting that of course includes some of those award-winning Little Creek Cheeses.
Be sure to book ahead though so you aren’t disappointed.