Surfing Goat Dairy Awarded at the Superbowl of Cheese…Attracts Top Chef Clientele
by Brian Berusch, April 27, 2008
You’ve seen the words “Surfing Goat Dairy” on an increasing number of menus throughout Hawaii during the last few years. You may have thought: Cute name, but are there really goats on Maui” Are they really making cheese there–or just slapping a label on some foreign or mainland product?
The answer: Surfing Goat is the real deal. This hobby-turned-successful venture is not only producing enough cheese to keep a fairly impressive number of top-end restaurants happy, but the operation reported a 32% growth for the 17th consecutive quarter, is possibly expanding operations, and is landing mainland clients like executive chef Michael Cairns at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.
First, a little background for the newbies: Surfing Goat Dairy owner’s Thomas and Eva Kafsack had been coming to Maui for surf retreats from their native Germany since the early 1970s. When Thomas decided to retire from software engineering, the spot to settle was obvious. They picked up an arid 42 acres tucked in to lower Haleakala, off Omaopio Road. Before the move, Eva set off to learn the craft of cheese-making from the finer producers in Germany, Austria and France, while Thomas began rounding up financing.
Within a few months of their arrival, a milk room, ripening room and cheese room were built, as was a spacious 10-stall barn for boarding horses. A modern 12-slot milking and sanitizing system was brought with them from Germany, and 47 goats were purchased from a defunct dairy on a neighbor island. Surfing Goat was born.
The dairy produces more than 25 varieties of cheese, a handful of which recently won honors at the National Cheese Competition in Portland, Oregon. The Kafsacks have broken down their cheese selection in to three categories: “Shark Bites”–the premium line, which include ingredients like Perigord truffles; the “Aloha”–which feature their gourmet chevre cheese, either plain or blended with local herbs and fruits; and the “Paradise” line that feature more exotic combinations such as cheese soaked in olive oil and garlic, or smoked macadamia nut shells and oil.
Some of our favorites from a tasting that followed a recent tour of the Surfing Goat Dairy facility included the “Mandalay”, which uses fresh Maui apple bananas and curry, for a rather exotic taste. The “Pirates Desire” makes use of anchovy and capers, for a surprisingly clean and smooth flavor, and the plain goat chevre coated in mesquite ash was a unique twist.
One last note: The Kafsacks have been trying to negotiate a new, larger parcel of land in West Maui, with Maui Land & Pineapple, who are currently developing Kapalua Mauka. Keep your eyes on B on Hawaii for further news and developments!
You can call and order from their entire cache of cheese (look at the dairy when on Maui–Surfing Goat offers tours daily–and is available for private functions.