Willy Bridgham has lived in the New Lebanon/Stephentown area since he was three years old. After graduating from Hudson Valley Community College, he worked for 15 years at an engine repair center for Porsches and German cars. During this time he also attended culinary school. He began working in sales at Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, where he learned about yogurt and cheese making from creamery employees. Eventually, he worked his way up to Creamery Manager before leaving to work at Coach Farms. In 2012, Willy left his job at Coach Farms to pursue he and his family’s dream of opening their own cheese making business. Since their founding, Four Fat Fowl cheese has enjoyed enormous success. Their St. Stephen cheese won a second place Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation award from the Specialty Food Association, and their products can be found in stores like Whole Foods, Murray’s Cheese, Blueberry Hill Market Cafe, and many other specialty stores.
Willy strongly believes that the fresh, high quality milk he uses makes Four Fat Fowl’s cheese special. He picks up the milk himself from local dairy farms such as Dutch Hollow Farm. “The milk is being milked while I’m there in the morning, so when I get back here that milk is actually only an hour out of the animal. That makes a huge difference,” he explains, “It is not possible to make bad cheese with such good milk.” Willy has worked with cheese so much that he calls it an art form rather than an exact science. Now, rather than needing to constantly check the pH levels of the cheese with a meter, Willy only needs to smell and poke the cheese to know if it is ready.
You can find out more about Four Fat Fowl and their cheese at http://www.fourfatfowl.com/.