Local is better. "Champions of Cheese," the Kamas-based Gold Creek Farms was recently awarded first- and second-place awards for its smoked cheeses in the 2012 World Championship Cheese Contest. The local farm competed against cheeses from around the world Switzerland, Australia and France taking two ranking positions. At just three years old, Gold Creek Farms won first place for its smoked cheddar and second place for its smoked parmesan in the hard smoked cheeses category, beating out more institutional names such as Swiss Valley Farms and Carr Valley Cheese Company.
"We didn't start making cheese until 2009," said Gold Creek Farms executive chef Fernando Chavez. "We're just this small farm. We do pretty much everything by ourselves. We grow our feed, milk our cows and everything goes toward cheese."
Chavez, who runs the cheese-making process for the farm, moved to Kamas from Mexico as a teenager. With more of a culinary background than a cheese-making background, Chavez said he was nervous when he first took over. But his family background in cheese-making a family tradition his sister carries on in Mexico paid off.
"I had an idea of what cheese should taste like, but I never had 100 percent control of how it was made before," he said. "Just knowing how to do things, knowing how to smoke, that was the key to winning this award."
When Gold Creek Farms entered the competition, Chavez said he would have been thrilled with a 10th or 15th place award. The night before the results were listed, he told his wife he wasn't feeling good about their chances.
"I was down a little bit," Chavez said. "I read the list from the bottom up, looking for us like that.
"When I finally got to the very top, there was the farm. I was overwhelmed."
The farm expanded, selling its cheeses at the Park City Market as well as the Park City Silly Market, the Park City Farmer's Market and online. Those looking to buy directly from the source are welcome to come up to the farm, which accepts cash only. But batches are still made small and kept local, Chavez said.
"Gold Creek Farms wants to keep it small, local," Chavez said. "If we keep it small the way it is now, it's more special. That's what we want."
Gold Creek Farms is located at 6297 East Bench Creek Road in Kamas, Utah. For more information visit www.goldcreekfarms.com or call 1-800-517-7670.