Kris Lloyd has never been one to let the grass grow under her feet. Yet, despite her status as one of Australia’s most influential and highly awarded cheesemakers, the South Australian businesswoman will be the first to admit that her 20-year career in the cheese and fine food industry has been “somewhat accidental”.
With a background in marketing, Kris had no ambition to make cheese until it was thrust upon her in 1999. “I’ve always been interested in fashion,” she said, “I was working in our family winery and thought that cheese and wine was the perfect match and then the opportunity came up for Woodside Cheesewrights and I couldn’t resist!”
Since then she has taught herself “the hard way” – using a method of trial and error to refine her craft and establish herself as an industry leader. As the 2010 Telstra Business Women’s Awards National Winner, Kris’ innovative cheesemaking practices and commitment to strengthening the South Australian fine foods industry was affirmed in 2014 and 2015 respectively when she was inducted as one of the Westpac Financial Review 100 Women of Influence.
Pioneering cheesemaking with a point of difference.
Kris’ most recent creation Anthill is a showcase of her flair and creativity, with a little touch of Australia. It’s a goat cheese encrusted with native Green Ants. It placed 11 out of 3021 cheeses from across the world in the 29th Annual World Cheese Awards held in San Sebastian in 2016.
“The judges were taken aback by the flavour and concept, and commented that they had never seen insects deliberately on a cheese before,” Kris said.
In a true nod to Australia and its rich offering of fresh produce, ants aren’t the only thing Kris adds to her cheeses. Lemon Myrtle, Saltbush, caper leaves, edible flowers, Gin, Cider, Beer, and Mark and Ash have all featured as defining elements in her creations. It is her passion for thinking outside the square and ingenuity in trialing different flavours and ingredients that has made her a modern-day pioneer of the Australian cheese industry.
Among some of her most notable showstoppers is Pompeii; a cheese that is created in partnership with internationally renowned chef Jock Zonfrillo who burns Australian Blackwood to produce a smoky grey ash. The ash is then layered through the centre of the cow cheese to create a unique blend of flavours.
Cheesefest – celebrating the diversity and innovation of cheesemakers in Australia
In 2005 Kris introduced Cheesefest – a festival dedicated to celebrating the cheesemaker and providing Australian cheese producers with a platform to raise awareness for their product, as well as market and grow their business.
The annual festival developed a passionate following and quickly became a firm fixture at Rymill Park (Murlawirrapurka), in Adelaide. After 10 successful years Kris called time on Cheesefest, in its final year Cheesefest hosted more than 24 cheesemakers, and showcased the produce of more than 40 Australian food producers.
“After taking a break in 2016, I found myself quite fascinated by the process of fermentation inherent in cheesemaking and I began to further explore the exciting technique and the foods it is responsible for,” she said.
What she discovered was a whole gamut of delicious food and drinks that paved the way for her next celebration of food: FERMENT the FESTIVAL, “I felt it was time to bring something new to Australia,” she said.
“People started copying Cheesefest so I became a bit bored by that and thought it was time to explore more than cheese, I began looking into fermentation and realised I could include all these other foods and drinks that are at the core of what I love.”
“When you start unpacking fermentation and what is responsible for it, it is very exciting indeed.
“Cheesefest was like this big party I got to throw every year, and as much as I missed it last year, the opportunity to have another big party completely dedicated to Fermentation – the first of its kind in Australia – is exciting, nerve-wracking and delicious.”
Fermentation has been making its mark through popular health food items such as Kimchi and Kombucha which boast a range of benefits for gut health. But there are more traditional foods such as cultured butter, sourdough bread, yoghurt, and chocolate, and then in liquid form: gin, beer, cider, wine, Mead, Brandy, Whisky and sake which are all made with the magical process of fermentation.
Fermentation transcends culture and this is reflected in the notable ambassadors who will be joining in the festivities: Jock Zonfrillo (Restaurant Orana), Adam James (Rough Rice), Emma Searer (Lost loaf), Alex Schulkin (The Other Right), and Mitchell Lloyd (Woodside Cheese).
“They will bring a diverse program of Labs, Conversations and Demonstrations of all things fermented,” Kris said.
“Whether you want to come and learn hands on, listen to their stories of fermentation, or just consume all the fabulous produce they have on offer, there will be a place for everyone at FERMENT the FESTIVAL.”
The event will kick off with a special FERMENTED FEAST in Rundle Park presented by festival patron Chef Jock Zonfrillo who will match a chef to a winemaker for each course.
South Australian Artist Clancy Warner is producing a life size piece of artwork she has named “of milk and honey” that will feature at FERMENT the FESTIVAL.
“My love for art, food, wine and good people – I think I’ve got it all!” she said.
FERMENT the FESTIVAL:
When: Friday, October 20 4pm-10pm / Saturday, October 21: 12pm – 7pm / Sunday, October 22: 12pm – 5pm
Where: Rymill Park, Murlawirrapurka, Adelaide
Cost: $25 per session or $50 weekend pass.
More information and tickets available at: www.fermentthefestival.com.au