Arkansas in the Making is a series of interviews featuring local artisans, their workspaces and accoutrements. Kent Walker is cheesemaker extraordinaire and owner of Kent Walker Artisan Cheese.
At Home in Arkansas: Define your personal style in 6 words. Kent Walker: Laid back, hard working, hippie affineur.
AHIA: What are your current obsessions? KW: [The television show] Breaking Bad, cheese aging techniques, and building our new tasting room.
AHIA: What color could you not live without? KW: Green, being in nature cheers me up.
AHIA: Tell us about why you make what you make…a history, timeline or some sort of list. KW: I make cheese because it makes people happy. Also for the pride of making the best, high-quality cheese I possibly can.
AHIA: What is your greatest achievement or goal for your brand? KW: Our greatest achievement so far is simply making it to the level we have.
AHIA: What is your go-to for a quick burst of inspiration? KW: Working the farmers markets is very encouraging. Meeting all of the people who are excited about the cheese is great!
AHIA: Which of your tools is most important for your work? Describe it, how long you’ve had it, etc. KW: Our three most important tools are our cheese vat, press, and aging cave. I’ve had the vat for about nine months; it is a 12’x4′ vat (larger than a hot tub). I custom built my press about two years ago, and I am now in the process of building a second one. Our cave is a big, walk-in cooler. We will have an underground cellar at our new location.
AHIA: What makes your workspace, studio, etc. uniquely yours? KW: As the sole owner, I get to make the decisions defining our processes. I love embracing the old world style of cheesemaking, and this shows up in the types of tools we use.
AHIA: To an aspiring artisan, what would you say is the most important part of doing creative work?KW: Just starting! And continuing, again and again. Your first products won’t be perfect—they might not even be good. Just keep doing it and you will learn a ton.
AHIA: How does your lifestyle support your work? KW: My lifestyle is defined by my work. I sometimes need to be at the shop at 2am to receive milk. When cheese is on the press, it has to be flipped ever few hours, so I have to head back in for 15 minutes a few times in the evening.
AHIA: What do you want your customers to know about you/your work? KW: We are working so very hard to create a product that can bring joy to people. Everything we do is to improve the food scene in the US and to make something that creates happiness in the world.
AHIA: Within the field of your work, who is your greatest inspiration/influence/role model, etc? KW: New Belgium & Sierra Nevada because they have grown to a large size without sacrificing their morals or their quality. Sean Minor & Montinore Wineries because they have great family businesses and amazing products!
Thank you, Kent! Do you love great cheese? Are you a curious foodie, who wants to know more about the cheesemaking process? Kent is giving away some cheese and a tour of his facility to a lucky winner! To enter: go and “Like” the Kent Walker Facebook page, then “Like” the At Home in Arkansas Facebook page and let us know you’ve done so by leaving a comment below! A winner will be selected at random on next Wednesday, July 23, at 4pm. Best of luck! WE HAVE A WINNER: ANITA AKIN EVANS Congrats, Antia, and thank you to all who entered.