Leelanau Raclette puts Michigan 'on the world cheese map'

Feb 2, 2017

Anne and John Hoyt own Leelanau Cheese Company in Suttons Bay. Leelanau Cheese is famous for it’s raclette.

“When people ask what it tastes like, I often say it’s between a gouda and a gruyere,” says Anne.

 

Raclette comes from Switzerland. It gets its name from the French verb racler, which means to scrape. Folks would put the cheese wheel in front of a fire and then scrape the melted stuff on top of some boiled potatoes. 

John Hoyt was in Switzerland, working for a winemaker when he experienced a raclette dinner for the first time.

He remembers asking himself, "Why don’t we have this in America?”

Anne Hoyt is from France. She was working as a shepherd when she met John in Switzerland. He was finishing up an apprenticeship with a cheese maker.

The couple eventually moved to Michigan, got married in a Detroit courthouse, and moved up to Leelanau county.

John (left) and Anne Hoyt (right) pack cheese curds into molds. Employee Neil Duffy works in the background.
Credit Dan Wanschura

John and Anne started their cheese business out of a garage in Omena in 1995. They eventually moved into Black Star Farms for a while, and then to their current location in Suttons Bay three years ago.

Recently, Leelanau Cheese Company won a Super Gold award at the 2016 World Cheese Awards, for their Mild Raclette variety. The competition was held in Spain and included over 3,000 different cheese varieties from six different continents.

Winning a Super Gold award means the cheese was one of the top 66 cheeses overall, and one of only two varieties to win from the United States.

“This is putting Michigan on the world cheese map,” says Anne. “It’s just great, it’s great.”

You can find Leelanau Cheese in many local grocery stores. They also sell at the indoor farmers market at the Grand Traverse Commons.