Erica Dibden, from Tilba Tilba on the NSW south coast, stood out from a diverse field of 77 people that included dairy farmers, a sports dietician, a police officer, chefs, teachers, and food retailers. Erica and husband Nic own a medium-to-large registered jersey stud where Erica has been the financial controller and heifer rearing manager for eight years.
Six years ago Erica began experimenting with making cheese and various milk products in her kitchen. She has since completed cheese making courses in Canberra, Perth and Melbourne.
“I would like to make and sell my specialty cheeses alongside quality Australian wines…..I believe we can elevate Australian specialty cheese to the same status as boutique wines.” says Erica. She has renovated the old Tilba Tilba Hall on her property and prepared a detailed business plan for a specialty cheesemaking venture.
Dairy Australia and leading cheese making companies including Lactos Tasmania, King Island Dairy and Milawa Cheese Company are backing the scholarship and will provide practical experience. The scholarship consists of 13 days at the National Centre for Dairy Education Australia; 15 days with some of Australia’s top cheese making companies, 13 days working with European specialty cheese makers and a week at Dairy Australia.