On the Pacific-side of Whatcom County, Washington, just north of Seattle and just south of the Canadian border, lies a new culinary upstart born of passion, family, and experience. “Jeff and I always wanted to have our own business,” Lindsay Slevin, co-owner and founder of Twin Sisters Creamery, explains. “We talked about ideas and got to a point where: are we really going to keep talking about this or are we going to do something? It was time to stop dreaming and take action.” Inspired by their twin girls to pursue a dream of starting a family business, Lindsay and her husband Jeff, blended their experience and passion and embarked on a journey to become artisan cheese makers. It took them 3-years, but in 2015 their inaugural Whatcom Blue was born.
Their cheese has since found regional and national recognition, and are now distributed by Chefs’ Warehouse/Provvista, can be found in Whole Foods, Murray’s, and Fred Meyers, and is a constant on menus and cheese boards at local PNW haunts such as Semiahmoo Resort, Keenan’s at the Pier, Aslan Brewery, and Ovn Pizza, in diverse applications from blue cheese burgers, to filets and wedge salads, to parmesan-style crisps.
Most recently, Twin Sisters’ gained national recognition with their Farmhouse with Whole Black Peppercorn winning 2nd place in its category at the American Cheese Society Conference in Pittsburgh. And with a brand new, 3500 sq ft. facility, they are poised to begin their next chapter in artisan cheesemaking.
A Commitment to Raw Milk
When asked what her success is attributed to, Lindsay is quick to say, “You’d have to try our blue cheese. It’s a beautiful product. We want to focus on raw milk and jersey cows, which are just 12-miles from us. It’s a closed herd, so we know the exact source. A single-source closed system. That was critical. And you can taste that jersey cream.”
This Whatcom Blue was their first, and for chefs who want stories on their menu, this local cheese has a tale to tell. The story, quality of the milk, and its mellow-approachable flavor has earned its place on the cheese board and restaurant menus.
“We wanted an approachable cheese that appeals beyond just blue cheese levels. A gateway blue,” Linsday begins. “It’s so heavy on the cream without a bite. We made an intentional small format blue,” she continues. “And for chefs, that smaller size and vacuum sealed 2.5 lb wheel with a 6-month shelf life is a benefit in the kitchen so chefs can move through it quickly.”
On their Farmhouse White, Lindsay explains, “We wanted the quality of the milk to be the star. It’s a totally different cheese. The culture is different, the temperature. It captures the cream and the milk. We cannot by law call it a cheddar. And it’s not a cheddar. It’s really just a rich, bit of a tang, but with a different cream finish. It’s handmade. It’s wonderful.”
I ask Lindsay what she’s learned in her short years in business and the taste of success.
“I am learning something every single day,” she answers. “And that is a true statement.” “So what did you learn today?” I ask. “Well, I learned about hiring an executive director for the Washington State Cheese Makers Association,” an organization for which she is also the President. “I learned about writing an RFP,” she continues. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you don’t know it. It’s not easy to be a cheesemaker, you face not even obstacles, but roadblocks and you just keep forging ahead. I have so much respect for business owners and other cheesemakers.”
As our interview concludes I ask Lindsay about the “Twin Sisters”, her twin daughters and the inspiration behind her Twin Sisters Creamery, and whether there’s any hope of them carrying on the mantle that bears their name.
“I hope they find their passion in life,” Lindsay replies, “and that when they do, that they are brave enough to pursue it. They love the lab jackets they have, and they love going on the milk truck, and they’ll have some great memories, for sure. But as a parent, it’s tough to believe that they’ll want to be cheesemakers. Right now, one wants to be an author, the other wants to be an astronaut, so we’ll see.”