Chiswick Cheesemaker’s Grant: Aine Rubikaite

A Goat’s Cheese Love Story

Aine Rubikaite, a lifelong lover of cheese, has been making fresh cheese in her home kitchen for the past five years.   Still at hobby-stage, Aine is hoping the cheesemaker’s grant, funded by a collaboration between Chiswick Cheese Market and the Academy of Cheese, will allow her to start making her cheeses on a commercial basis.

When Covid hit, Aine, originally a technician for a London pharmaceuticals company, decided to leave her intense job and ditch the busy city lifestyle, to look for something more fulfilling.  Inspired by nearby Borough Market, she realised that she wanted to make something tangible, something delicious, something she could touch, taste and share with her friends and family.

Aine had enjoyed many a weekend travelling around the south of England, on the pursuit of food experiences, including breadmaking, charcuterie, even game butchery!  But it was the cheesemaking course in Sussex that her partner had given her which resonated. 

From Sour Cream to Goat’s Cheese

Her Lithuanian heritage, with its proclivity towards cultured milk products, provided a good starting point for her new hobby.  But she didn’t stop at soured cream, she was soon progressing onto mozzarella and a long summer of halloumi burgers!

It was her love for the soft, lactic, Geotrichum-rind goat’s milk cheeses, and the nostalgia from the trips to France with her partner from where she first discovered these wonderful cheeses, that drove her, however, to take the next step.  These small, gooey, wrinkly cheeses that got her most excited, drove her to start her web-based research, visiting cheesemaker forums and reading technical articles. 

Now she is unable to consume or give away all the cheese she makes, so Aine finds ways to incorporate them into dishes, confessing they go particularly well in pasta, pizzas and salad.

Limited only by the size of her kitchen hob, she makes small, 8 litre batches of goat’s cheese every couple of weeks.  Being predominantly self-taught, Aine acknowledges that she cannot source all the necessary information from online sources alone and is excited about meeting the experts through her grant mentorship.  She is positive that the Paxton & Whitfield’s Level One Certification, facilitated through the grant, will give her the structured education to fill the gaps in her cheesemaking knowledge needed to help get her first product to market. 

Dairy Design Dreams

Aine is also hopeful that the grant will help steer her in the right direction for setting up suitable premises and safe processes to make her cheese.   Dairy design and process-flow is covered in the Academy’s Level Three Regulation and Good Practice modules, so this is one of the courses Aine is hoping to complete with her grant money.  Ideally, she would like to convert her partner’s somewhat redundant workshop at the bottom of the garden, not only as a low-cost and convenient solution, but also so she can be close to her current goat’s milk supplier in the next village.

Whilst her love for goat’s cheese forsakes all others at the moment, she wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of working with cow’s milk in the future: her favourite cheeses are the deliciously rich and creamy St Felicien and St Marcellin, but for now, her love is safe with goats.

Rachel Holding | Academy of Cheese Writer

Rachel loves a good cheese and wine session. Her love of all cheeses, artisanal or otherwise, has grown from her early years of working on the cheese counter at Fortnum & Mason.  She has a personal mission to taste as many cheeses as possible and to encourage this passion in others.