Cheesemaker Gina Del Santo shares her Fellowship experience
31 May 2017
What was your Churchill Fellowship topic?
To develop a national centre for cheese education to create a paddock to plate Artisan Cheese Industry. I wanted to enable the Australian Artisan Cheese Making Academy (ACMAA) at TAFESA to deliver best practice education with a vision for support and continuous improvement. My newfound knowledge will enable the skills gap to be met, which is part of continuous improvement and growth within the industry.
Why did you apply for a Churchill Fellowship?
One of my graduates, Kym Masters, who started his own cheese factory Section 28 Artisan Cheeses after he completed the Certificate III Program in Food Processing (Artisan Cheeses), believes that cheese education is very important and lacking in Australia, and he wanted to see it grow so he recommended I apply and kept asking until I did.
How did the Churchill Fellowship benefit you as someone working in the food and beverage sector?
Being able to observe what is being taught around the world in cheese/dairy education, how we compare, how we could change, and what direction I can take the Academy in.
How did the knowledge you gained your Churchill Fellowship benefit the food and beverage sector (e.g. the wider cheese industry)?
I’m still working on this. Changes need to be made from a stakeholder and government level in regards to support and sponsorship. This is what happens overseas. Industry is in full support of dairy education and the educational centres are heavily sponsored. I saw this through the U.S., England and France. More focus is placed on education overseas and cheese makers need education to become cheese makers but in Australia at this point we do not provide such education. I would like to see it as an apprenticeship such as in the baking or butchery sector.
What major achievements or milestones have you reached since going on your Fellowship?
In general terms the people I have met along the way and continue relationships with, and being invited to be a guest speaker at various dairy conferences talking about the Churchill Fellowship.
What is next for you?
I would like to develop a specific curriculum for cheese makers. I’d like to grow the Academy to be recognised at an international level. I hope to write a book one day on cheese.
Travel overseas to advance the South Australian food industry
The Dr Susan Nelle Churchill Fellowship will be offered for award in 2018 for more information about this sponsored Fellowship visit https://www.churchilltrust.com.au/sponsors/about/Dr-Susan-V-Nelle/