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20 Under 40

The October issue of Gourmet News unveils the 2008 class of “20 under 40.” This biennial feature recognizes 20 people in the gourmet food and kitchenware industries that are 40 years of age.

In exciting news, Rolf and Marieke Penterman, of Hollands Family Cheese, are featured in the issue! Marieke is a licensed cheesemaker and makes some of the best gouda I’ve ever tasted — my all time favorite is still her Foenegreek Gouda — yum!

Here’s the excerpt about the Pentermans, courtesy of Gourmet News – interview is with Marieke:

Describe how you got involved in the gourmet/specialty food/ business:

My husband Rolf and his brother both wanted to farm. Rolf came to the United States in 2002,and I followed in 2003. While Rolf was farming, I was looking for something to do. At first I wanted to make children’s furniture, but I had trouble finding someone to carry out my designs. At the same time, we were missing the cheese from Holland and we were having friends and relatives bring it with them in their suitcases. But the weight restrictions on luggage was getting to be a problem. So I decided I would try to make it on my own. I took classes and got my cheesemaking license and went back to Holland where I worked with a woman cheesemaker with 10 cows and a man with 200 cows. And between them, I found a method that would work for me.

Most valuable lessons learned:

There are so many different aspects: learning to make the cheese, learning the marketing and running the store. I was afraid I would be too focused, but I discovered I can find solutions to the problems. If it doesn’t go the way you want, you have to innovate.

Describe how your business has grown and what your plans are for the future:

We were lucky to win all those awards (eight at this year’s American Cheese Society Competition, including first place in Dutch-Style Cheese and Smoked Cheese). That put us on the road to expanding our sales. We also go to the food shows, which is very important, so more people know about our cheese. And we’re expanding the line with a gouda that is strongly connected to Wisconsin.

Of course, I (and this is Jeanne talking again) am still eagerly waiting to find out what the new gouda is that Marieke’s working on — hoping to find out before the end of the year!

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