Ferial Zekiman is a master cheesemaker. She is also founder of Maffra Cheese Co at Tinamba in Gippsland, some 215 kilometres east of Melbourne, and its head cheesemaker. Her family are from Cyprus, and she learned to make halloumi from her grandmother, who also looked after Ferial’s children when Ferial was working as a retail chemist.
She decided that cheese was her calling and enrolled at Gilbert Chandler College in Werribee where she learned to make French- and English-style cheeses. In 1991 she bought some decommissioned cheesemaking equipment from the Petersville plant in Trafalgar and started her 32-year cheesemaking journey, eventually making some of the finest cheese in the country.
She makes her award-winning cheddar cheese using milk from her own herd. Even though the cheddar is aged, the quality of the Friesian-Holstein milk shines through in the Maffra Cheese Co Cheddar, a smooth textured, nutty cheese with a sharp finish. Maffra Cheese Co is also known for its English territorial style cheeses, such as the buttery, mellow Red Leicester and the crumbly, tangy Wensleydale. The Wensleydale is also blended with cranberries to make a delicious and fruity club cheese. Maffra Cheese Co brie is a real crowd-pleaser, while the two blues, the Tanjil blue and the Glenmaggie blue, are both perfect for the cheese platter.
Products: soft white mould cheese, hard cheese, club cheese and blue cheese.