Evansdale Cheese

Colleen Dennison - The Grand Founder

Colleen Dennison - The Grand Founder Evansdale Cheese started as an idea in 1977, over a Christmas BBQ. Back then the Dennison family had 10 acres, and they were throwing ideas around about how to make some money and someone came up with the idea that everyone in the group should each have a cow, and the Dennison family should start a small cheese operation.
As the Evansdale business began to grow, sadly all those friends stopped having a family cow, and Cadbury's started to supply milk. Back then, Evansdale Cheese took about 100 litres, right through to the early 80’s.
While working at Evansdale Cheese, managing the business, Colleen also worked as a fulltime Geography teacher. After spending five years teaching overseas, Colleen was passionate about teaching and found it very rewarding. Most days involved getting up at 5am to collect milk with the family dog, before pasteurising it, and preparing it for the cheesemaker who would be there from 8am, and then it was off to work for a full day of teaching.
During this time, six children arrived, and the Dennison household thrived. Evansdale Cheese spent some time working with and advising Whitestone Cheese, helping establish their Oamaru operations, and with Jock Allison, making sheep’s milk cheese, which was very rare in New Zealand in those days.
Colleen finished teaching in 2005, and by 2006, the family had all grown up. The Dennison family brood were still involved in Evansdale Cheese, with Pablo and Matthew helping run the business.
Recognition has been the most rewarding thing for Colleen. Producing a fine, artisan product, that people enjoy eating and tell their friends about has been something special. Colleen finds word of mouth in business, especially one that has been running for over 40 years, very rewarding. Seeing children of some of her earliest customers come and buy cheese has been great.
Growing a small business has been a big part of Evansdale Cheese for Colleen. The ability for an idea to grow into a small business that can provide for its staff and employees to buy a home or build their own ideas into a something has been very rewarding.
Colleen says, “As a small business, you have to be committed, committed to being innovators, you have to go ahead and want to do things, and you sometimes have to turn up to work at midnight or 2am to see things through. It’s just what we do. In some ways, you become obsessed, and those lucky people find the balance where they don’t become too driven, and find that work life balance.” Working really hard to run a business has been a big part of Evansdale Cheese for Colleen.
A family owned and operated business, Evansdale cheese is a good story, because the company has managed to survive for 40+ years. Colleen says, “We must be doing something right, for it to have survived for so long.” She’s still actively involved in the cheese factory, and continues to make cheese some days.

Colleen’s Evansdale Cheese recommendation: Colleen’s favourite Evansdale Cheese is Farmhouse Brie, and she would serve that with either a biscuit and Wanaka confit, or a water biscuit, with quince paste and any wine you like!

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