How to get from Maritime Museums to Cheesemaking in 8 easy steps
by Allison Lakin
1. Learn to cook salmon on cedar stakes around an alder wood fire
2. Graduate cum laude in Anthropology from Cornell University
3. Research food preservation for Polynesian voyages for Tommy Holmes’ planned Pacific Canoe Museum
4. Take a 4 month, cross country road trip eating blue road roadside fry bread in New Mexico, out- the-back banana pudding in Georgia, speed eating crawfish in Biloxi, Mississippi
5. Work at Mystic Seaport Museum demonstrating open hearth cooking in the Buckingham Hall House and “Mug ups” cooked over a coal burning stove aboard the Schooner LA Dunton
6. Make cheese in New York State, with cheese classes at the University of Wisconsin, West Highland Dairy cheesemaker Kathy Biss and artisan cheesemaker Peter Dixon. Place 16th and 32nd in the World Cheese Championship with semi hard cheeses and 3rd in the American Cheese Society Competition with Ricotta.
7. Create programs that blend food and art at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
8. Take a leap of faith in self and the universe
No. 8 would not have been possible without the generosity of spirit of Cathe Morrill of State of Maine Cheese Co., and the businesses which, for the love of quality food and a sincere desire to assist a new venture, welcomed the cheese.
Thanks, too, must be given to the Maine Department of Agriculture (specifically Diane Perry and Audrey Slattery), Coastal Enterprises Inc. Small Business Assistance, and the public library system.
My gratitude is boundless.
I began making cheese in 2002 at a farm in New York State, making three varieties of aged cow's milk cheese and fresh ricotta. I attended the University of Wisconsin Cheese Short Course and workshops with renowned cheesemakers Peter Dixon and Kathy Biss to learn more about the chemistry and art of cheesemaking. The semi-hard cheeses I made there placed 15th and 32nd in the World Championship Cheese contest in 2003 and in 2004, the ricotta won 3rd place in the American Cheese Society competition.
In 2005 I was invited to speak at the joint conference for the Association for Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS) and the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS). The conference theme was Visualizing Food and farm and the panel I was on discussed perspectives on the divide between the intent of farmers/producers and perceptions of consumers.
I began my own business, Lakin's Gorges Cheese LLC, in August 2011 and am licensed by the Maine Department of Agriculture. The cheese is made in space leased at the State of Maine Cheese Co. in Rockport, Maine and using organic milk from Maine.
MUSIC AND THEATRE
Since 1996, I have played two traditional Irish percussion instruments: bones and bodhran. I have had the good fortune to play with some wonderful musicians from many different musical styles. In 2009, I competed in the All Ireland Bones Playing championship in Abbeyfeale, Ireland. What an amazing experience! I make my instrument from beef spare ribs and decorate them with scrimshaw designs.
Starting in my teens, I could be found working backstage at a variety of concerts. Over the years, I was a stagehand, lighting designer and technical director, working on a multitude of shows. I founded and produced a sea music festival in Texas and a concert series in New York.
A brush with film:
In 1994 I designed the lights for the premier party of "Dumb and Dumber."
In 1995 I worked as the Assistant Set Decorator on Rebecca Miller's film "Angela."
Some of the artists I have worked with ( in no particular order):
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Tito Puente, Jr.
William Pint and Felicia Dale
Cherish the Ladies
Gregory and Maurice Hines
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Muir String Quartet
St. Lawrence String Quartet
The Vermeer Quartet
Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
Jump Rhythm Jazz Project - Billy Siegenfeld
Mark Morris Dance Company