Meet Kris Lloyd, cheese connoisseur, entrepreneur and our August woman of the month. Kris is the CEO and Head cheese maker of Woodside Cheese Wrights a specialist cheese maker based in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Kris has spent the past 2 decades fine tuning her artesian cheese making skills and has been recognised with countless professional and personal accolades, this heart-centred creator is sure to tantalise more then your taste buds!
For those that aren’t familiar with your story, how did you fall into the wonderful world of artesian cheese making?
It was completely unintentional, my background was actually in marketing and prior to starting our family I was working independently with a corporate development agency- where we would go into businesses and help them with their marketing plans etc. It was a far cry from the world of artesian cheese making.
However, it wasn’t completely left of field as at the time our family also owned a vineyard (Coriole vineyard) in McLaren Vale, SA. Once we had our family my husband suggested I move into the family business and I saw an opportunity to value add to our wine tasting and other products like vinegars and olive oils with the addition of cheese. Woodside cheese was put on the market not long after and I purchased the business with the pure intent of only overseeing the business- as the existing staff stayed on and had all of the cheese making know how. But it was a small business and when staff were away I at times needed to step in and actually help make the cheese. I loved that it was tactile, that it was something I could see and taste and smell…I fell in love with everything about the process and so my adventure in the world of cheese making began, almost 20 years ago now.
You’ve achieved many amazing accolades and recognitions in the culinary cheese world but one we truly want to draw attention to was being the first manufacturer of raw milk cheese in Australia. What makes raw milk cheese so special?
Raw milk cheese is an interesting one, it’s quiet controversial and there’s a lot of regulation around raw milk cheese. I’ve been making this style of cheese for the last 15 years and I’m completely fascinated by it, I’ve travelled a lot through Europe and it’s something so revered over there. The process of making it is so satisfying, it has minimal intervention and it truly allows the milk your working with and your cheesemaking skills to shine. It also tastes completely different to pasteurised milk cheese, it lingers and has this beautiful deep flavour. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of doing blind tastings for some of the culinary world’s finest and if I was to put the raw milk cheese against the pasteurised milk cheese and ask which one tasted better, they would with-out fail say the raw milk cheese. It requires a certain level of skill and it’s something I’m really passionate about introducing to people.
What role do you feel self-belief has played in your successes as a business owner, creator, mother, friend and everything in between?
Self-belief is sooo incredibly important regardless of gender, having the confidence and ability to feel like we can live our biggest lives and contribute to our community or industry is so crucial. I do a lot of speaking for young people and one of the things I often find myself sharing, is that sometimes our self-belief doesn’t always start within and we need someone else to believe in us to help spark and fuel that fire, so making sure we have supportive people and mentors around us is really empowering. The other thing I’ve found extremely valuable in growing my own self-belief over the years are mantras, some of my favourites being: “What have I got to loose” “Never let anyone tell you that something can’t be done” “Make your own noise” and “Only you can make your life something special”.
You grew up in a traditional Greek family surrounded by foods like home made feta, haloumi, olives and dolmades, which was no doubt accompanied by lots of connection, family and friends. What are some of your fondest memories around the ritual of food and do you believe bringing back some of the traditional ways of eating, connecting and preparing foods would serve the modern day kitchen?
Absolutely, I spent so much time with my grandmother when I was younger- she was a beautiful, little Greek lady and she practically raised me. Food was her life and that’s what I grew up around, I learnt such an incredible respect for food from her, she taught me to respect food and the seasons. She had such a rich tapestry of cuisines she made everything from scratch, the mayonnaise, the dolmades, the cheeses, the growing of her own herbs and she was so open to sharing her knowledge. The suburb she lived in was ethnically diverse and so communal, all the women would gather at her house to learn how to make dolmades and then they would gather at another woman’s house to learn how to make German biscuits, and then they would share everything they made and eat together. There was such a beautiful collaboration, I would come home from primary school and there would literally be 12 women in the kitchen cooking and sharing, laughing and talking. They also use to trade food as well it was amazing and that kind of connection is something that would definitely serve us well to.
If you could tell your 20-year-old self-anything, what would it be?
Never, ever let someone tell you that something can’t be done! You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t set limits for yourself and if you do always be prepared to raise the bar.
We couldn’t do this interview and not ask you what your favourite kind of cheese is…so what is is and why?
I don’t think it’s been made yet. I have sooo many and every time I think I’ve found it, it changes! So, instead I’ll just say I’ll be spending the rest of my life searching for it!
As always we love brining these instalments to you so let us know what your takeaways were in the comments below and if you’ve got anyone you’d like us to feature then share that too ;)!
S & M.x