Hear from former Saxelby Cheesemonger Jon Bonanno on the latest episode of Cutting the Curd. Jon has worn a variety of hats in the cheese world: farm assistant at Consider Bardwell, cheesemonger at Saxelby Cheesemongers and Cavaniola’s Tribeca, and cheesemaker at Rainbeau Ridge Farm in Bedford Hills (the farm of Lisa Schwartz, maker of the awardwinning Meridian), as well as an active home cheesemaker.After a couple years as a parttime assistant cheesemaker, he arranged to lease the cheesemaking facility at Rainbeau Ridge when Schwartz recently decided to take a sabbatical. He is now — under the name Arattom Dairy — producing the ash-coated Cinder (roughly based on the Meridian recipe) and fresh chevres, as well as developing a variety of tommes, fetas and more that will be coming to market soon. Rainbeau is a true farmstead facility: while you stand in the make room, the bleats of the goats in the nearby enclosures are audible and each day the milk travels just a few hundred feet from milking parlor to vat. When Schwartz went on sabbatical, the herd was reduced from 40 to 14, although the biggest producers were kept, so milk production dropped by just 30 percent. Due to limited space, the goats are fed hay supplemented with grains rather than pastured, but live comfortable lives spent mostly lounging in shade; the quality of the milk attests to that. Jon’s interactions with the animals are limited due to his full cheesemaking schedule, but he hopes to expand his role and is interested in the possibilities of new partnerships between cheesemakers and farmers. Cutting the Curd is underwritten by The Dairy Farm Families of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.