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Shep Ysselstein wins $100,000 to take his cheese nationwide
July 2, 2014
Another big honour for an Oxford County cheese maker will make way for an expansion to his business that should take his cheese all the way across Canada.

Shep Ysselstein, owner of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, has won $100,000 through the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest, created by the Business Development Bank of Canada in 1988.

Ysselstein said he had been sworn to secrecy since he was informed last Thursday night about award, which was formally announced Wednesday morning.

The 31-year-old described the contest as “very different” because each entrepreneur was required to gather their own votes from their community.

“So the reason we were able to win is because Woodstock is so supportive,” he said. “There really is a sense of community;​ people back each other.”

The young cheesemaker’s proposed project involved the construction of a 185-square-metre (2,000 square-foot), climate-controlled curing and aging extension to his current building.

The extra space would allow him to ramp up his annual production of cheese to 60,000 kilograms.

“The space will double our production and allow us to store cheese for longer time,” he said.

The extension will also allow for more jobs. Two years ago Ysselstein said he worked on his own, but presently has three employees. He plans to add four more in the coming years.

Right now, he explained, he is only licensed to sell cheese in Ontario, but plans to take the necessary steps for a federal license that would allow him to sell his cheese nationwide.

“Right now we are maxed out in production, so there was no incentive to actually go after that,” he said.

Five Brothers is one of three major cheeses — the other two are Oxford Harvest and Handeck — that Ysselstein produces and markets at his Gunn’s Hill location.

Last year Five Brothers won the Dairy Farmers of Canada Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in the firm cheese category.

Named after Ysselstein and his four brothers, who grew up on their parent’s dairy farm on Gunn’s Hill Road, the eight-month-old cheese is a combination of Swiss Appenzeller and Dutch Gouda cheeses.

By Heather Rivers


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