Miel Meyer is both Cheesemaker and General Manager at Meyer Gouda Cheese in Hamilton and consequently has a wide variety of roles in the business.
Miel’s position as Cheesemaker and General Manager at the factory forces him to multi-task and to work on completely different projects at the same time. A typical day includes tasks such as cheesemaking, food safety checks, cleaning, managing staff, speaking with customers and suppliers, business planning, managing finances and monitoring trends. He also enjoys daily cheese tasting, which has become the morning tea break!
He really enjoys this variety in his job and finds he can plan most days to suit his lifestyle. If he is tired of one job, he can take a break and do something else.
The best thing about my job is the variety. I play a number of roles in the business, so I can plan most days as I like and to suit my lifestyle. If I’m tired of one job, I can take a break and do something else.
Miel first learnt to make cheese as a child from his father. His mother and father started Meyer Gouda Cheese in the 1980s, and Miel and his siblings helped out in the factory throughout their school years. Once he left for university, however, Miel didn’t expect to be back at the cheese factory.
Miel enjoyed maths and science at school. This led him on to study biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Waikato. He continued with further study at Auckland University in forensic science before taking up a position as a research associate at AgResearch, specialising in microbiology and genetics.
When the recession came and there were cutbacks at AgResearch, Miel took voluntary redundancy, knowing he had the safety net of the family business to fall back on. He found that returning to work at the cheese factory was a good lifestyle choice for him and his family. Within a couple of years, he was able to take over as Cheesemaker and then as General Manager.
Miel found that the subjects he studied at the University of Waikato gave him great breadth of knowledge, enabling him to choose from a variety of jobs. This knowledge also became very useful when he began working with cheese again. He finds the concepts and processes in cheesemaking are much easier to understand because of the knowledge he has developed through his study.
Cheesemaking is steeped in tradition, and it can take a lifetime to perfect. Miel knows how important his father’s experience is for the business.
He is fortunate to have his father living close by and he regularly calls on him for a second opinion. He credits this wealth of experience with the company’s ability to produce consistently good cheese.
Miel won Cheesemaker of the Year 2011 at the Cuisine Champion of Cheese Awards, the youngest cheesemaker in the history of the competition to win this. He is particularly proud of this achievement, which came after just one full season making cheese.
In the 2012 New Zealand Champion of Cheese Awards, Meyer’s cheeses won the Yealands Estate Champion of Champions Award for their vintage Gouda and the AsureQuality Champion Flavoured Cheese Award for their garlic and chives Gouda, as well as five gold and two silver medals. Meyer cheeses have continued to win multiple awards over the years.
Miel is very interested in computer games and, with some friends, started New Zealand’s first PC Gaming Association.
Miel also loves the outdoors. He plays touch rugby and indoor football. He enjoys gardening, fishing, kayaking and tramping and is keen to give anything a go! Miel spends most of his leisure time with his 3 young children, and this usually involves doing outdoor things with them.
Find out more about the science of cheesemaking.
This article is based on information current in 2012 and 2018.