Manousos Tsitsiridis, Sfakia, Crete
In 1994, having just graduated from the Dairy School of Ioannina, 35-year-old Manousos Tsitsiridis took over the family cheese business in Askifou, Sfakia. Using an old family recipe, he started to make cheese daily from November through to July, a total of 60 tons of cheese a year, exclusively with local milk, supplied by 35 farmers in the region. The west of Crete, and the area of Sfakia in particular, are remote and wild, with plenty of pasture for the sheep to graze on, from the low plains by the sea in winter, to the high montains in summer. The exceptionally diverse flora of the cretan landscape enrich the flavour of the milk and Manousos uses some of the herbs directly in his cheesmaking, with his smoked thyme graviera. He produces a full range of traditional Cretan cheeses, from galomzyithra, a set cream cheese used in both sweet and savoury pastries, a light whey anthotiro, which is like fresh ricotta, and different ages of PDO Crete Graviera.