When Nick Haddow and his family moved to Bruny Island in 2001 with a plan to start producing cheese, the idea of winning an international award as an author was far from his mind.
Now, 16 years later, Mr Haddow has established a cheesery people travel to Tasmania to visit, has become an international television personality through SBS series Gourmet Farmer and can add James Beard award winner to his accolades.
Mr Haddow’s latest book, Milk.Made: A Book About Cheese, How to Choose It, Serve It and Eat It, won the single subject book category at the 2017 James Beard Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
“It’s a strange happiness. I can’t quite believe it. I never thought I’d be holding a James Beard medal,” Mr Haddow said.
“This is some real validation. Single subject cookbooks are not all that easy to get up from publishers. Not only to find a publisher who could support it, but to be chosen as the best single subject cookbook is crazy,” he said.
The idea for the book was first discussed with Mr Haddow’s friend, and the book’s photographer, Alan Benson 10 years ago and they kept returning to it.
“We honestly first started talking about this book 10 years ago. I always wanted to do a book like this,” Mr Haddow said.
“There was a whole bunch of people involved. We all worked really hard. It was a lovely to work with [Hardie Grant] and it really does build on everything I wanted to do,” he said.
In Milk.Made Mr Haddow shares recipes and advice on how to make, serve and store cheese at home.
The pair visited renowned cheesemakers in Australia, France, the UK, Switzerland and the US and interviewed inspiring cheese connoisseurs around the world.
“Alan Benson and myself shot some of the book in America. What they’re doing there is pretty important,” Mr Haddow said.
Hardie Grant Publisher Jane Willson congratulated Mr Haddow on winning such a prestigious award.
“We’re thrilled for the recognition that the James Beard Award bestows on a book that we saw as a potential standout in an underpublished category,” Ms Willson said.
“Credit especially to Nick Haddow for his unwavering belief in the power – and importance – of the subject, and to photographer Alan Benson, who trailed Nick on an ambitious shoot in Europe and the US capturing cheese and dairy farms during a northern hemisphere winter,” she said.
Writing the Milk.Made inspired the Haddow family’s next project: a small organic dairy farm in the Huon Valley.
“[The book] was definitely a catalyst for wanting to become dairy farmers. That’s our next big step as a business and as a team. The cows arrive in a week’s time,” he said.
“That whole start-up journey is really because of writing the book. We’ll start building a second cheesery which will focus on raw milk cheese,” he said.
Mr Haddow appears regularly on Gourmet Farmer with Matthew Evans and Ross O’Meara and, between them, the trio have written two books: The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book and Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing.