Five years ago, a bright young man named Kent Walker
was working at Montinore Estate Winery
in Oregon. While learning the exquisitely intricate art of fine wine, he also began tutelage under the house cheese maker, who started showing him the ropes and pointed him to the most important literature regarding the world of cheese production. Kent continued to develop his cheese making abilities and as his cheeses ripened so did his skills. In 2011, Kent left the world of computer maintenance and decided to devote himself entirely to the art of cheese. We should all be thankful that he did. Kent began to circulate his product among local chefs and high-end grocers in Little Rock, who received him with open arms, all happy to carry such fine locally produced cheeses. When a kitchen space became available in the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
, Kent moved in, and in October 2011 Kent Walker Artisan Cheese
began full-time cheese production.
Currently, Kent is producing five or six varieties of cheese, and each is worth sampling for yourself. The Garlic Montasio is a cow’s milk cheese that was originally produced in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. This soft, salty cheese is aged two months and gets an addition of roasted garlic, making it a perfect addition to bruscetta or an olive plate. Walker’s Habanero Cheddar is destined to become a local favorite. A classic yellow cheddar, sharp and rich, gets an addition of Arkansas habaneros, giving it just a little spice without overwhelming the beautiful cheese. The Bluff Top Gouda is a washed curd cheese produced from raw goats milk supplied by Bluff Top Farms in Dover. It is naturally aged for over 60 days, producing a smooth, creamy semi-hard cheese that is a perfect companion to apple, nuts, and dark breads. Other options include the English Leicaster, a mild, crumbly cow’s milk cheese, and a sharp, brined Greek feta also produced from locally raised Arkansas goats.
- From Kent Walker Artisan Cheese's Facebook page
Kent and his team currently produce around 250 lbs of cheese per week. They are dedicated to the art of small batch cheese production in order to give each product the attention required to yield cheese of the highest quality. However, due to increasing popularity, they have been consistently increasing production since opening their doors. Currently, the best way to sample and pick up some of Kent’s product is to catch him at the Little Rock River Market
farmer's market or at the Sunday Market at Bernice Gardens
on 14th St. and Main. So next time you really want to impress your friends with a superlative wine and cheese pairing, visit Kent and bask in the glory of his cheese knowledge. He’ll help you find just what you need for a truly memorable cheese experience.