Fernando Chavez-Sandoval’s Gold Creek Farm cheeses have earned a place on the plates of some of Utah’s top restaurants. His Romano flavors a risotto at Talisker on Main. His coveted and scarce butter melts on bread at Forage.
What stumps him is explaining the key to his success, which includes winning top honors by the American Cheese Society for his smoked cheddar and smoked Parmesan this year and making the world’s best smoked white cheddar in the World Champion Cheese Competition last year.
“It’s not that I don’t want to share,” said the humble 35-year-old. “I don’t know. For me, it’s just making cheese every day.”
Certainly it has to do with the farm’s 20 Brown Swiss cows, with names like Susan and Sally — and their special diet. And that Chavez-Sandoval is a chef who likes to experiment in the kitchen. There’s also the smoker he and his assistant made.
But Chavez-Sandoval thinks his state of mind is equally important. The Mexican immigrant, who learned English while washing dishes when he moved to Utah, has the full support of generous bosses who have let him run with his creations and reap the benefits when they succeed.
“This is what we come for,” he said recently on the 130-acre ranch located along the banks of the upper Provo River in the Uintah Mountain valley that is his workplace. “For me, this is my American dream.”