Name: Christopher (Chris) Dach
Years with Westby: 35
Position: Cheese Maker
Hello; I'm Chris Dach. You can just call me 'Doc' - because that's the way my last name is pronounced; so, everyone just calls me Doc. Some people here at the Creamery call me the 'Cottage Cheese Doc' -- that's what I do -- I make Cottage Cheese, and other dairy food products.
Actually, I 'cook' Cottage Cheese in large vats (more on that below). They say it's the 'old fashion' way to make Cottage Cheese. It may be old-fashion to some; but, to me, it's the way you create a nutritious, and great tasting quality product; one batch at a time.
And, believe it or not, Westby Cooperative Creamery is the only Cottage Cheese manufacturer in the state of Wisconsin. It's true. And, nobody, anywhere, makes it better than us.
I learned the cheese-making trade from Odell Rogstad; who worked here at the Creamery for 44 years. On-the-job training from experienced professional cheese makers like Odell, and others, along with educational seminars, refined my skills and knowledge as a Cheese Maker. I'm passing these skills and talents onto the next generation of professionals. Fortunately, we have several learning this craft here at the Creamery.
Fresh milk is delivered every day to our Creamery from the dairy farms of our member-owners. This means everything starts fresh, and every day is a day for making one of the many dairy food products manufactured by Westby Cooperative Creamery. These include Cottage Cheeses, Sour Creams, Dairy Dips, Yogurts, Cream Cheeses, Hard Cheeses, Cheese Curds and more.
Cottage Cheese is called a 'fresh' cheese, which means it is not aged or ripened. Obviously, it is also a 'soft' cheese, meaning it is not pressed or packed. It is one of the earliest cheeses that humans learned to make; some say 'accidentally' learned to make; but, that's another story. Historians say humans have been making Cottage Cheese for at least five thousand years, perhaps longer. For me, it's been 35 years so far.
My usual work day shift here at the Creamery starts at 1:45am. I prepare the large stainless steel vats for making Cottage Cheese, beginning with pasteurized skim milk. Natural cultures and enzymes are added to speed coagulation of the milk during the 'cooking' process, at a temperature of 130-degrees (Fahrenheit). The acid level of the milk increases to enhance flavor and changes the pH of the milk to a level suitable for coagulation, or curdling. The curdled milk is then cut into cubes that will form the curd size and shape (large or small).
After curdling and cutting, several other steps complete the product manufacturing process. When completed, samples from each fresh batch are sent to our in-house Lab for Quality Control Analysis. When quality is assured, the finished Cottage Cheese product then flows into stainless steel holding tanks and the packaging line.
The basic manufacturing process is the same whether we're making Regular (4%), Low Fat (2% or 1%), or Fat Free (0%) Cottage Cheese. The 'milk-fat' content of other creamy dressing determines the 'type' of Cottage Cheese.
Regardless of milk-fat content, all Cottage Cheese is dairy-nutritious; high in Protein and Calcium; low in Total Fat, Saturated Fat, and no Trans Fat; and, low in Calories, Cholesterol, Carbohydrates, and Sugar. And, Westby-made Cottage Cheese is delicious. I taste every batch I make to be sure. And, after 35 years, I've made, and tasted, a lot of Cottage Cheese.
The manufacturing of a food product to be consumed by myself, my family, my friends, and other human beings, is serious business. You can't make mistakes, or take shortcuts. It's an exacting process; it's both art and science. And, we have a lot of state and federal regulations to comply with for food and worker safety.
There's a lot of modern technology involved in making cheese; but, also a lot of old-world craftsmanship. Experience and teamwork bring it all together into a quality dairy food product from Westby Cooperative Creamery. I'm proud of that.
For me, it's rewarding to be part of the traditions and history of our dairy cooperative business, and to be part of the U.S. food industry. Very few people know how to do what I do as a Cheese Maker. I get good vibes knowing that I help create nutritious products that thousands of people, and their families, enjoy.
When you take home country goodness from Westby Cooperative Creamery, you take home country goodness from me - Chris Dach (just call me 'Doc')