Madeleine Hanssen rewarded with the Slow Food Award for Cheese Resistance 2015
Madeleine Hanssen is one of a kind. As the last remaining producer of the traditional raw-milk Herve cheese, a Slow Food Presidium since 2014, she has been fighting the battle for quality food and small-scale production. In their century-old farm, located in the province of Liège (Wallonia), Madeleine and her husband Phillippe dedicate their life to this artisanal cheese. Herve used to be produced by over 500 small farms until the first half of the twentieth century, which disappeared one by one as a consequence of industrial gigantism and standardized production techniques. Recently, the spotlights have been directed towards the raw-milk Herve, as the (overly) rigid hygiene legislation is putting its production once again at risk. The strict regulations have already led to the closure of José Munnix’ farm, the second last producer of the Presidium Cheese. But Madeleine is determined, and will not bow under the uncompromising rules. She has renovated her production rooms, which are leaning towards perfection regarding hygienic security, and has joined a group of artisanal Walloon producers in order to find solutions and strategies to protect small-scale, raw-milk cheese productions. For all her work, effort, battles and dedication, Madeleine has been rewarded with the Slow Food Award for Cheese Resistance 2015, a prize given to those cheesemakers who stand strong to keep the extraordinary heritage of knowledge and tradition alive and kicking, and who continue producing their cheese with respect for quality, nature and taste. Madeleine received this prize during the opening ceremony of Cheese 2015, Slow Food’s biannual international event focusing on raw milk cheeses and milk biodiversity. The award was handed over in presence of Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food.