Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese has aged well

Posted on Jun 11, 2013
For years, Kenny Mattingly was the only farmer in Kentucky making cheese from milk produced by his cows. Others are doing that now, but have a long way to go to match the success of Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese.

Kenny and Beverly Mattingly at their market in Barren County.
Kenny and Beverly Mattingly at their market in Barren County.

The high quality of his farm-made cheese, coupled with his marketing successes, has made Kenny Mattingly a household name in Kentucky agriculture circles. To get an idea of how good his cheese is, all you need to know is that it is served at several of the finest restaurants in Kentucky, including the Oak Room at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, the Boone Tavern in Berea and the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg. Those are among dozens of restaurants throughout the state that serve Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese.

One or more of the 31 varieties also can be found at various wineries, farm markets, liquor stores and supermarkets. A list of these locations and outlets in 12 other states can be found at the company website, www.kennyscountrycheese.com.

Kenny says he is “amazed” at how his business has grown since he decided in 1998 to use some of the milk from the family farm to make Gouda cheese using Old World handmade techniques. He got the idea during a trip to Europe to observe farming practices.

The Mattingly family has operated a dairy farm for many years in a remote section of Barren County, near the tiny community of Austin. Kenny’s son, Jared, now manages the farm and the milking herd of some 140 head. About half of their milk is used to produce about 110,000 pounds of cheese per year. Back in his first year (1998), Kenny made around 4,000 pounds at a small parlor in his market center. He now has a spanking new 5,000-square-foot facility at the rear of the market for processing and packaging. He has 10 employees in the cheese business and three farmworkers to help Jared with the crops and the dairy cows.

The company has marketing reps in Louisville and Nashville.

“The Nashville market has really grown,” said Kenny. As for Kentucky, he has a hard time keeping up with all the locales. “We’re probably in a lot of restaurants that we’re not aware of because we have a distributor that handles that,” he added.

Kenny and his wife, Beverly, are very proud of what they’ve accomplished at their modest 200-acre farm and farm market. They have won numerous awards and received a good deal of attention from the media and the agricultural community. They’re also a participant in KFB’s Certified Roadside Farm Market program.

The key, says Kenny, “is we strive for that artisan, hand-crafted niche.”

The result is a premium product which sells at premium pricing.

The most popular cheeses are white cheddar, gouda, swiss and asiago. Among the “flavored” varieties, garlic paprika and tomato basil cheddar are most popular. The list of 31 products also has cheddar horseradish, Colby chipotle, havarte garden herb, smoked gouda. monterrey jack jalapeno and monterrey chive onion.

There’s an exciting new development for the Mattinglys: Jared and his wife, Ashton, have established a vineyard and plan to open a farm winery later this year. There will be a tasting room at the farm market and eventually, a picnic area for patrons to enjoy wine and cheese.

“That’s obviously a perfect match,” Kenny said.

Tagged Post Topics Include: Ashton Mattingly, Barron County, Beaumont Inn, Beverly Mattingly, Boone Tavern, Jared Mattingly, Kenny Mattingly, Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese, KFB Certified Roadside Market Program, Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, Nashville