Northern Michigan in Focus: Passion, Love and Good Cheese

Starting your own business takes a certain amount of gusto, bravery, spirit, whatever you want to call it.

Starting a business with your significant other is on another level.

That didn’t stop one couple from jumping in head first, and we can all appreciate their hard work today by enjoying one of the best foods on the planet: cheese.

Chief photojournalist Corey Adkins brings us the story for this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

"When you do what we do and you own a small business in Leelanau County it has to be a passion, seven days a week," says Anne Hoyt, co-owner of Leelanau Cheese.        

This is a story of passion, love and very good cheese.

It starts more than 35 years ago in the early 1980s.

“I met my husband in Switzerland. I’m from France and my husband is from Detroit, but was working in Switzerland as a cheesemaker, and John wanted me to bring back these skills to Northern Michigan," explains Anne.

So John Hoyt brought his French bride, Anne, to open their business in Leelanau County.

"We started in a garage in Omena," says Anne.

That is where Leelanau Cheese was born in 1995; born of love.

"I guess I like everything about it, from the beginning to the finished product, beautiful wheels of raclette cheese, taking care of them in the cellar and everything," says Anne.

Sustained with passion and hard work, those humble beginnings led to much, much more.    

They’ve grown and moved, perfecting the Swiss cheese known as raclette.

"Raclette is an alpine cheese. It’s nutty, buttery flavored, and the best part is it’s a wonderful melting cheese. It melts just like butter," explains Anne.

Proving you can’t find a better representation in the United States…

"We won best of show at the American Cheese Society with our sharp raclette, and it was just amazing," says Anne.

Now, they’ve taken on the world.

"Just a couple of months ago we won the very prestigious award at the World Cheese Awards in Spain, and we took a super gold medal. Only two American cheeses took that award, so we are now listed as one of the 66 best cheeses in the world, so it doesn’t get any better than that," explains Anne.

They want to show people here how they do it.

"We are also about education. A lot of people don’t know anything about cheese making, and it’s totally fair. We are here to answer questions when they come," says Anne.

The best part about a visit is the samples. One of the world’s best cheeses gets even better when you can understand all that goes into making it.

"It’s still amazing to talk about it. I still have a big smile when I talk about it. I can’t believe it," says Anne. 

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