The 2024 Hot List: Miguel Vivanco | culture: the word on cheese
☰ menu   

The 2024 Hot List: Miguel Vivanco

This story is part of culture’s 2024 Hot List. Click here to learn more about the selection process and to see the entire list of recipients.

Photo courtesy Miguel Vivanco

Miguel Vivanco

Head Cheesemaker, The Farm at Doe Run
Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Miguel Vivanco began his career in food as a dishwasher. Later, he started cooking in Korean restaurants, where his interest in fermentation began to grow. His first job in cheese was in 2012 as an assistant cheesemaker in Northwest Washington. Since 2017, he’s moved cross- country three times for different jobs, spending a couple years making soft cheese at Jasper Hill Farm, then pursuing a more corporate route with Tillamook in Oregon. After a few years at Tillamook, Vivanco got a call from his friend, Olivia Haver, about an opportunity at the Farm at Doe Run. Just two weeks after that phone call, he made the move to Pennsylvania. Vivanco considers himself incredibly lucky to work with milk from cows, goats, and sheep to produce award-winning cheeses without creative limitations while being supported by his amazing team.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the cheese world?

Eileen O’Malley. She inspired me to get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself, and move to Vermont. Eileen was my co-worker at Samish Bay Cheese and Jasper Hill.

What was your big “aha moment” when you entered this industry?

Realizing the consistency required to be a cheesemaker. It encourages me to show up with intention, and to respect the resources required to participate in this industry.

What’s your number one goal for your career in the cheese industry?

I’d like to find a way to reflect my cultural heritage as a Mexican-American through cheesemaking or cheese education. I’m not exactly sure how I’d like to do this yet, but I’m currently enjoying the pursuit of delicious flavors through new recipes.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve experienced or overcome in the industry?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced was the transition from my desk job at Tillamook back into cheesemaking. After taking two years off from production, it was difficult to create a dozen recipes while still learning a new facility.

Pair a celebrity with a cheese.

Nicolas Cage and pule. No reason, but it feels right.

You’re on a desert island and can only eat one cheese for the rest of your life. What is it?

Ossau-Iraty. Always approachable, but complex enough to keep things interesting.

What is an underrated cheese that everyone should know about?

Mesta, a raw sheep’s milk cheese from Spain that’s coagulated with thistle rennet.

What is a pairing you’re ashamed to love?

Burrata and Lactaid.

Related Articles
Culture’s 2024 Hot List
The 2023 Hot List: Nine Cheese Stars to Watch

culture: the word on cheese

Culture is America's first and best magazine devoted to the love of cheese. Explore our website for stunning photos, cheesemaker profiles, recipes, wine, beer, and a community of readers always willing to help and chat.

Leave a Reply