CHEESE IN THE VILLAGE
Jean Morin, cheesemaker and dairy farmer
Fromagerie du Presbytère
Cheeses crafted with passion, including Bleu d’Élizabeth, Brie Paysan, Champayeur, Laliberté, Louis d’Or, Religieuse, Taliah and Pionnier.
There are actually two operations: the farm and the cheese dairy, which are now one company, to which the church was eventually and naturally attached.
As a child, Jean Morin would cross the only street in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, at his mother’s request, to take cakes to the village priest living at the presbytery. He lived just opposite the church, part of the fourth generation of the family that operated the Louis d’Or dairy farm.
In the early 1980s, he took over the farm with one of his brothers, and they decided to go organic. The Louis d’Or farm adheres to the highest agricultural standards, in their crops and in the way they care for the animals.
Since those days, the fifth generation (Jean’s daughter and three sons) has become involved, and when the presbytery was put up for sale, the family did not hesitate to embark on a brand new adventure that would end up literally transforming life in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick.
Jean, a major cheese lover, had often been to France, exploring the country’s cheese dairies from east to west. “It was an old dream of mine to become a cheesemaker, which I was able to fulfill by buying the presbytery in 2009, in order to turn it into a cheese dairy,” he explains.
The dairy farm’s milk production is now entirely used for cheesemaking.
When he decided to become a cheesemaker, Jean enrolled in a training program at ENIL (French national school for the dairy industry) in the town of Poligny, Jura department.
“It’s a love story between me and cheese… When the presbytery was put up for sale, it became possible to fulfill this dream I kept having. My children, who were already involved in running our dairy farm, were immediately won over by the idea!” the cheesemaker tells us.
“I have the privilege of nourishing people, so I have to make food that is the best it can be. It’s a challenge every day. Every morning I ask my team: What can we do to make our cheeses even better?”
“The most difficult thing, as an artisanal producer, is ensuring the greatest harmony in terms of cheese quality. It’s a constant technical challenge.”
“Definitely the award we won in the first year for Bleu d’Élizabeth!” Jean exclaims. “We were told we made the country’s best cheese, two years in a row at that!” Since then, Fromagerie du Presbytère has been winning awards year after year for many of the cheeses they turn out.
Continuing to make all cheese lovers happy.
“Taking possession of a church is something that stirs many emotions. A church is a sacred place, a place you identify with. People celebrate life there, baptisms, weddings, funerals, joys and sorrows. When we decided to buy first the presbytery and then the church, we all thought this place should continue to be a shared place. Our Fridays in summer are proof of this!”
“And, of course, I want to ensure the longevity of the farm and the family business, for my children and their children.”
“There are the prizes we won, of course. But if you come to the Fromagerie on a Friday afternoon in the summer, you will quickly see that what is most striking about this whole adventure is the life that has returned to the heart of the village. It’s the rallying effect it has had.”
“Fridays at the Fromagerie”, an event that began spontaneously, brings together thousands of people every week from all around, neighbouring villages as well as Montreal, Quebec City (which are equidistant from Sainte-Élizabeth) and the Eastern Townships. They arrive with coolers, picnic tables and bottles of wine, and enjoy the Fromagerie’s fabulous cheese curds on site.
“Normally, when everyone is here, the village has 381 inhabitants,” Jean explains (specifying that the “1” is the youngest of the fifth generation of the Louis d’Or Farm. “Fridays, beginning in June, this number multiplies tenfold! Visitors come – and come back – in the thousands. And they leave at sunset!”
Risotto (with cheese, obviously).
ENFANT TERRIBLE SINCE 2015
A classic at Les Enfants Terribles:
Photos: © Fromagerie du Presbytère