If you want to know anything about cheese, ask Jackee Foster of Oak Bluffs. Ms. Foster is a cheesemaker and cheese connoisseur who is responsible for developing cheeses – mozzarella varieties – for Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch Catering and feta for Mermaid Farm. She also teaches cheese workshops for Ms. Buhrman and, on her own, hosts cheese tastings for private clients.
Ms. Foster, a 2005 graduate of Johnson & Wales, learned the craft of cheesemaking from Lourdes Smith, a third generation cheesemaker who is the proprietor of Fiore di Nonno, makers of handcrafted, small batch mozzarella in Somerville. At the time she was offered the job of cheesemaking assistant, Ms. Foster was trying to figure out where she could carve out her culinary niche.
The Lancaster native had just returned from Ireland, where she spent five years working in restaurants and helping to start up two new venues. Although she had originally gone to rural western Ireland for a four-month internship, she ended up settling in Dublin because of the culinary renaissance that was taking place while she was there.
“At the time they were right in the swing of the Celtic Tiger [period of rapid economic growth],” she says. “People were moving there from all over Europe. These cultural influences were reflected in the variety of cuisines, which ranged from French classical to Asian.”
One of the chefs that Ms. Foster worked for was dedicated to the revival of traditional Irish food using all local ingredients. “In the city all these ingredients were coming from local farms. I had farmers dropping off eggs, dairy, pig trotters from a farm five miles away. I would go to the docks for fish at five in the morning. That was exciting for me.
The full story of Jackee’s journey via Jackee Foster: A passion for cheesemaking on Martha’s Vineyard : The Martha’s Vineyard Times.