Craig page

5 craigCraig Hageman

From work as a chef in Chicago and Berkely, Craig brings to his role as Alemar’s cheesemaker an expertise in the science — and art — of flavor. Over the course of working in some amazing kitchens including Berkely’s two great sister restaurants, Rivoli and Corso, Craig developed a strong interest in fermented foods, particularly cheese.

Despite the rewarding kitchen experience, Berkely grew to be too fast and expensive for a couple eager to start a family.

“I loved the restaurants and people I worked for, but the restaurant lifestyle was getting to be too much for me,” Craig says. On the day he and his wife married, Craig was introduced by a Mankato uncle to Alemar founder Keith Adams. A year later, Craig and his wife moved to Mankato to begin making cheese.

A typical day for Craig begins by turning cheese in the ripening room and coolers, an important aspect of cheesemaking to ensure ripening and even development of the rind. Meetings with general manager Tracy Drash often involve discussions of orders for the week, shipping needs and new cheese development. Craig can often be seen promoting Alemar at special events, interacting with customers.
Craig, his wife and two children find themselves at home in Mankato, where Craig someday hopes to own and operate Alemar.

“It is amazing to be a part of such an incredible team and to be able to make a product every day that we can truly be proud of,” he says. “Alemar is very small company and I love being a part of every step in the process from the farm to finished product to working with our customers.”

He loves French-inspired, soft ripened cheeses that Alemar produces. Just don’t ask him to pick a favorite.

“I cannot,” he says. “It would be like picking favorites among your children.”