Cheesemaker Spotlight: Jenna Coughlin
September 7, 2021
What does Jenna Coughlin, the head cheesemaker at Tomales Farmstead Creamery, like about artisanal cheesemaking?
“It’s a combination of science, art, food and magic,” she said.
Pursuing it as a business is also a highly skilled endeavor that requires a fine balance between artistry and hard science — including both good math skills and a deep understanding of fermentation processes.
Jenna took a circuitous route to cheesemaking: a history degree from UC Santa Cruz, then a series of diverse jobs — including as a dry cleaner manager and anthropological research assistant — before working in vineyards and taking sustainable agriculture classes in San Diego.
During the COVID-19 pandemic she moved back to Marin, where she grew up, and began working at MALT-protected Toluma Farms’ organic creamery — Tomales Farmstead Creamery — where she apprenticed and became head cheesemaker within six months.
Using milk from Toluma Farms’ goats and sheep, as well as cow milk from neighboring Silva Dairy, Jenna creates fresh, ripened and aged cheeses that — offering respect to the original stewards of the land in this region — have Coast Miwok names. The names preceded Jenna’s arrival at the creamery, but in a nice bit of synergy, her Coast Miwok ancestry provides another deep connection between the cheesemaker and her cheeses.