28 January 2011 by Robyn Campbell

King of the Curds

Beauty, it’s said, is in the eye of the beholder. For foodies, beauty is revealed on the plate and the palate.

Recently, scrolling through my inbox, I opened a mail from a friend with an attachment entitled, Dievx Dv Stade or Gods of the Stadium, with an advisory telling me that I was about to drool over images of ‘hot semi naked French sportsmen’. Really? Ho-hum: DELETE!

The next email was a Slow Food invitation to attend an educational cheese evening hosted by Kobus Mulder.

The Kobus Mulder - Mr. Cheese? Africa’s only international cheese judge.

My inner caseus mus musculus (cheese mouse) went into overdrive! You see, I am a cheese fiend. This means that for me, tall, middle-aged Kobus Mulder with his gentle convex curvature of the abdomen (there are no tummies in Cheese Land), and haloed pate (read: brilliant cheese brain), is my ultimate foodie pin-up.

Who wants a pouting rugby player with a 6-pack when you can have a cheese evangelist with a twinkle in his eye, humility, a sense of humour, and a passion for cheese that has revolutionised the South African cheese industry?

I rushed to buy a ticket to attend a tutored cheese tasting hosted by Kobus more eagerly than a teen groupie infatuated with Justin Bieber. After all, anyone can get a piece of Justin, but it’s not every day you get to hang out with South Africa’s first-ever chevalier.

The chevalier, or cheese knight if you like, has the pleasurable duty to encourage and nurture the making and enjoying of artisan cheeses. In the world of curds and whey, a chevalier, is a Big Cheese.

Kobus calls himself a humble cheese maker. At heart, he may be. All I know is that thanks to this tireless dairy man, artisan cheese making in South Africa, a fledgling cheese nation, has grown exponentially, in production and quality.

To the extent that the annual Agri-expo Cheese Festival is the country’s biggest and most successful festival, and at international cheese competitions, South Africa kicks some serious cheese-ass.

Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got some serious drooling to do, while I gaze at my knight in cheesy armour.

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