Q&A with Laura Davenport of Tulip Tree Creamery
Q. Tell us a quick history of your company.
A. Fons Smits, my business partner, and I started Tulip Tree Creamery in 2014 after working together since 2005 at two other creameries. We wanted to create unique products for the community in which we lived that weren't currently available. So, we started making cheese and selling it at the local farmers markets. Demand increased quickly so, we expanded our offering every year and even though we work with over ten distributors across the US, we still sell our products at the local farmers markets. In addition to winning national awards for our cheeses over the past several years, most recently, we have received 5 awards from international cheese competitions.
Q. How did you get into cheesemaking?
A. Fons started cheese making after studying dairy technology in the Netherlands. I left working in the health care field to work in the cheese world. While Fons focuses on improving and developing cheeses, I mainly focus on education and sales.
Q. Describe the process of creating a new cheese type at your creamery, from idea to conception.
A. Once we receive a request or think about something new, Fons spends time researching and testing recipes then we survey our team to see if it's something we want to take to market.
Q. How important is the local terroir in your cheesemaking process?
A. We feel that it is very important as it influences the flavor of the milk. So, we select farms which grow most of the animals' food themselves in order to get the flavor of the land into our products.
Q. Is your facility open to the public? If so, what can guests expect when visiting?
A. Our facility is not open to the public, however, we do offer cheese making classes every week that include a tour of our facility.
Q. What is your favorite cheese that you produce? Describe its aroma, flavor, texture and appearance.
A. I personally love our Foxglove...it's fudgy and meaty and funky with the traditional orange color of a washed rind.
Q. What beverages and accompaniments pair best with the cheese named in the previous question?
A. Natural wines pair very well with this cheese.
Q. What inspires your flavor choices and packaging designs?
A. The flavors are inspired by the classical French style cheeses -such as Epoisses and Brie. Most of the cheeses are square, the cheeses are all named after flowers/botanicals and the labels are bright colors (like most flowers). We wanted our cheeses to really stand out!
Q. Do your cheeses have any unique attributes or certifications? PDO, organic, vegetarian, etc.
A. We do use vegetarian-friendly rennet when making all of our cheeses.
Q. Where can consumers purchase your cheese?
A. At farmers markets in the Indianapolis area and specialty cheese counters/stores nation-wide such as Whole Foods, Market District, Heinen's, New Seasons, and many others.
Check out Tulip Tree Creamery's hand-crafted cheeses here!