Bumthang Swiss cheese is the only sole producer of the Swiss cheese in Bumthang. Aum Yozer Lhamo is the current propertier of the factory that has been as old as the Bhutan’s first swiss cheese. Mr. Fritz Maurer, a Swiss guy who came to Bhutan in early 1960’s and never went back, may be he felt like home. He is awared the highest honour by His Majesty the Great fourth towards his contribution in Bumthang and awardee the title “Dasho” which is at par with “sir” in Britian. Mr. Maurer is still seen visiting the Cheese Unit sometimes on bicycle and somedays with his Landcrusier.He has been a great mentor since then.
Bumthang Swiss Cheese was personnly managed by Mr. Maurer in its day to days activites till he handed over to Late Mr.Sonam Dorji in mid 90’s. Mr. Maurer being foreigner in a foreign land, has trusted his co founder Sonam Dorji in establishing the factory under his guidance with financial aid from HELVATAS. From the beigning late Sonam Dorji has gained the trust of his fellow co worker as well as Mr. Maurer through his sheer hardwork and unparallel dedication to the responsibilites bestowed upon him. He was then sent to Netherland as the first Bhutanese to master in the art of making swiss cheese.
“Sometimes god picks the the flower that is still in full bloom;sometimes the rosebud’s chosen that we feel he’s picked too soon” that may be the reasons to the mysteries of life and death. No sooner Mr. Sonam Dorji has has been taken by the gods will, his eldest son took over the art of making cheese. The warmth of his fathers dedication still vibrates on the tongue of when we taste the cheese and its flavour.
The children have stepped up where their father have left , the eldest daughter Mrs. Sonam Lhamo looks after the shop and act as CEO, with a BA degree from India. The other two Sons look after the production line in the cellar, and drives in and out of town to fetch fresh local milk.
“Swiss cheese is like a baby, I have to turn the cheese block with specific timing, removing any surface mould with cloth dampened in salt water” say Aum Yoezer Lhamo who was awarded Women Entrepreneur of the year 2016. The clellar stores cheese for a period of 4-8 weeks at a teperature of 22.2 – 23.3 degree celcius to develop the characterstic eye and flavor.The cellar is clustured with the cheese slabs and visitors are allowed to see it only after 2pm with minimum entry fee, of 5 USD for foreigners (Nu.270) . The timing has been schedule for the swift management without troubling the workers.Chilled draft/weiss beer and varieties of sliced cheese are served as complimentary for the guest.
There are around 61 dedicated farmers who have been supplying milk for decades. The fresh milk has been collected from distant villages and Mr. Dawa (eldest Son) checks the quality ensuring not to contaminate the cheese during its incubation period. The supplimentry milk are tendered from the nearby government farm. During summer 500 – 600 liters of milk are procured and in winter when the farms depends on dry fooders the milk decreses to 300 litres.