Kristen Allan is a Sydney-based artisan cheese maker, specialising small batch, fresh cheeses and yoghurt. With a spirit that encourages community and sharing, Kristen also runs workshops, teaching the fine art of curds and whey. The classes are all about a hands on experience, a gathering of like minded people, coming together and making something special, food that is handmade with tradition and care.
What is your occupation?
Cheese maker. I also teach workshops encouraging people to get in the kitchen and make their own cheese.
What are you currently inspired by?
I recently met a cheese maker from British Colombia who grows his own bacteria for cheese.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
Ten years ago, I was miserable working in a job that I really didn't want to do. My dear friend Jane (who I trust with my life and who I believe to be one of the smartest women I know) said to me 'you should do something with cheese because every time you talk about it, your eyes light up'. Crazily, I quit my job the next day and started on this incredible journey. I did a few courses and read lots of books but I pretty much taught myself how to make cheese in my home kitchen.
Favourite style of cheese?
Ohhhhhhhh hard question.....ok, stinky washed rind cheeses. The funkier the better! And the rind of a good blue cheese can make my eyes roll back.
How should cheese be eaten?
Chunk of cheese in one hand, a glass of wine in the other.
Can you tell us a little bit about your recent trip?
In short, 5 weeks of eating and drinking, art, books and whiskey in Scotland, London and New York. And a good combination of seeing friends, family and alone time. One of the highlights though was visiting the wild and woolly Outer Hebrides islands, which are a 6 hour ferry ride from Oban on the west coast of Scotland. I will never forget the heavy smell of peat burning, which people use in their fires. It was also a work/research trip, which is just an excuse to explore cheese caves and eat lots of cheese. Not exactly what one would call work though!
How do you approach personal style?
I'm pretty relaxed when it comes to personal style and I think I dress more for comfort than anything else, however I feel I also lean towards a classic and androgynous look.
Do you have a uniform?
Navy hard yakka overalls but I wish it was more Yves Saint Laurent 'Le smoking' tuxedo.
What would you tell your 18 year-old self?
You are braver and much more resilient than you realise so just believe in yourself.
Who or what has been the most important influence on you in life?
My parents and big brother who have always encouraged me to do things which make me truly happy. And the incredibly strong and smart women who I'm surrounded by, who hold my hand and give me a good kick in the butt whenever I need it.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be? After a long break overseas, I am so happy to be back in Sydney, sleeping in my own bed. But if I could be anywhere, I'd really like to be on (another) holiday, by the beach with my nieces, Sophie, Mooie and Bella.
What has been your most memorable meal?
My 39th birthday. 15 friends squeezed around my small dining table. We made pizza and drank lots of wine and there was laughter, so much laughter. I remember looking around the table that night feeling totally blissed out and full of love. Oh and there was also the stinkiest piece of cheese that was way too smelly to be kept in the house so we left it outside the back door. Only my European friends were brave enough to eat it.
Favourite song or piece of music?
Pretty much the whole collection of Fleetwood Mac. Four Last Songs, (especially Beim Schlafengehen) by Strauss and shamelessly George Michael was my first love and I can never give up on him.
What are your favourite items from the LM collections?
The navy shirt dress! It was the perfect piece to take overseas. All the stripes I just love!