Up in Stephentown (Rensselaer County), a small but mighty team of ambitious cheesemakers (make that cheeselovers) had dreams of someday owning a creamery of their own. And by golly, they did it. Willy and Shaleena Bridgham opened Four Fat Fowl five years ago, intending to produce a world-class, triple-cream cheese.
The husband-wife team have been involved in cheesemaking since 2001, when they worked at Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. Willy went on to make cheese at Maple Hill Creamery (Kinderhook) and Coach Farm (Pine Plains); Shaleena focused on distribution and marketing. “After many, many years of talking and dreaming about how much we would love to have our own creamery, we started making cheese in 2014,” Shaleena says. “We would take family vacations and spend days on end talking about what style cheese we would make. How would we finance it? Were we even capable of taking on such a huge project? We carried on these conversations for about five years.”
The cheese, dubbed St. Stephen, is made from jersey cow milk and cream sourced from Dutch Hollow Farm in Stuyvesant. Four Fat Fowl recently increased production at a new location and added a second cheese to the roster: Inagada Ricotta, made from fresh jersey milk and cream and the whey from St. Stephen production. St. Stephen is available in fine cheese outlets nation- and regionwide ($12.99/7.5 ounces), or online at igourmet.com.
Four Fat Fowl
473 State Rt 43, Stephentown
(518) 733-5230; fourfatfowl.com