Take a pot of milk and heat. At a very specific temperature add in a bit of acid or rennet, stirring all the while. In a moment of magic, the curd separates from the whey and you’re on your way to creating homemade cheese.
Eugene’s Keith Ellis likes this moment of magic so much in 2008 he started his own cheese making adventure, Cheese Louise Creamery. The name came about because Ellis’ mother and grandmother both shared the name Louise — making his homegrown business the perfect namesake!
Ellis and his wife own Cook’s Pots and Tabletops, a cookware shop and cooking school in south Eugene. He’s taught in the culinary program at Lane Community College and operated restaurants, catering firms and other culinary adventures, including the designing of multiple cheese shops. He’s a respected chef, and cooked at restaurants in Eugene and along the Oregon Coast.
With family originally from Naples, Ellis has always had an affinity for Italian foods. He’s traveled to Italy several times to visit cheese makers and learn more about the processes they use, and to gain experience. Ellis makes all his cheeses with the intent of using them in cooking, as opposed to table cheeses.
While he loves many types of cheese, Ellis is very fond of the Ricotta Salata, a slightly salty, dried version of whole milk ricotta. It’s especially happy when grated over pasta and salads. Cheese lovers can also find Ellis’ other cheeses, including fresh whole milk mozzarella and his mascarpone, the Italian-style cream cheese, at Long’s Meat Market at 81 East 28th Avenue in Eugene.
Ellis generously offered to share his recipe for his Sicilian Sformato with The Local Dish readers.