Newly crowned MOF, Christelle Lhoro, presents her three must-try French cheeses
Having entered the MOF contest three times and won in February 2019, Christelle Lorho shares some of her favourite cheeses with Gourming.
The Lorhos: two French Worker of the Year winners in one family
She employed a sports coach so that she “had more stamina, particularly in the showstopping ‘oeuvre magistrale’ round”. She took French and sophrology classes. Christelle Lorho, who has been making cheese for twenty years and runs a store in the Carré d’Or business district in Strasbourg (Alsace, France), went all out to prepare for the cheese makers’ Meilleur Ouvrier de France contest (prestigious award for craftsmen in France). “For three hours you cut, you press and you think,” says Christelle, who was born in Sarthe but is an adopted Alsace local. She joined the Meilleur Ouvrier de France family at the start of February. This is an exceptional case because she is the second person in her family to win the award, following in the footsteps of husband Cyrille Lorho, who is also a cheese maker.
A store in Strasbourg and a ripening cellar in the Vosges
“Perhaps I needed to grow into the role, and this time I also prepared differently,” explains this mother of four daughters about her recent win. To get ready, she worked for many months on the contest’s “Shapes and Colours” theme. “It doesn’t just magically happen: you have to research, look things up in the dictionary and think about how primary colours and milk bases can be brought together.” Out of the 50 cheeses competitors had to produce, 25 were imposed by the organisers and the other half had to be ripened products. Christelle Lorho knows all about the cheese ripening process. Since 1995, she and her husband have had a ripening cellar in Moyenmoutier (Vosges, France).
Three must-try French cheeses
“I can’t turn my back on my native west of France. We sell two camemberts at the store. The first comes from the Manche region and is a little more distinguished, raw and typical. The second is made in Calvados and has a thinner rind. Both go well with apples and cider. At home, we often eat camembert by itself.”
“We sell nearly 25 blue cheeses and each has its place. We often suggest getting the cheese out before dinner and having it before the main course. We get Fourme d’Ambert cheeses that have been ripening for six months delivered to our cellars. We leave them to ripen for two months more and they become incomparably creamy and meltingly soft. We add Sauternes wine or cassis because blue cheese pairs well with sweet things.”
Mamy Huttel style creamy Munster cheese
“This is a real recipe that can be eaten as a main course. You ripen farmhouse Munster cheese in unpasteurised milk, then you rub it with Marc de Gewurztraminer wine. You then make a savoury chantilly, add salt, pepper, juniper berries and chives, and coat the Munster with the mixture. You leave it to marinate overnight so the alcohol can soak in. You also take off the rind to get rid of moisture. You can leave it like that for two or three days and serve it with roast potatoes, Strasbourg sausage or cooked ham.”