Old Europe Cheese – Our Story

Nestled between the pristine waters of Lake Michigan and the rolling hills of the Michigan wine country, Old Europe Cheese’s esteemed cheese makers have been handcrafting artisan specialty cheeses under the Reny Picot brand since 1987.

Francois Capt

Helping to guide this endeavor since its inception is the skilled and talented General Manager of Old Europe Cheese and award winning cheese maker: Francois Capt.

Francois arrived from France one fateful day in Benton Harbor, Michigan with just a small suitcase and a head full of infinite cheese making wisdom. Being the 4th generation family cheese maker, Francois possessed the skills and talents diligently passed along from his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. In addition to family heritage, Francois also brought with him considerable professional knowledge of cheese making, having earned his degree in Dairy Science from Mamirolle University in France.

The plant location in Benton Harbor, Michigan had been carefully selected for several reasons.

First, the Old Europe Cheese facility was previously a milk processing plant so the rudimentary infrastructure was in place. What had to be added were cheese making vats, molding equipment, brining tanks, curing cellars, and packaging equipment. All the pieces to the puzzle to outfit the plant were carefully selected by Francois based on functionality and design.

Special open cheese making vats were imported from France, which allowed for the tried and true method of hand cutting the cheese curd. German and French molding equipment arrived featuring gent curd forming applications to prevent damage to the delicate cheeses. Spanish tradesmen installed state-of-the-art brining systems that incorporated old world processes with modern technology. French technicians arrived to build curing cellars that allowed for the perfect environment to age the cheeses. And lastly, cutting and packaging equipment was carefully pieced together utilizing the best from Holland, France, Spain and the United States to ensure the perfect wrap on the perfect cheeses.

Of course, the finest cheeses in the world are only as good as the raw materials and ingredients that go into the finished product.

The milk source selected was from the Michigan Milk Producers Association, which ensured Old Europe Cheese a constant supply of fresh wholesome USDA grade milk from family farm members. The family farmers of MMPA made a commitment to produce pristine milk free of all harmful additives, chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics. With only the freshest, purest milk utilized, Old Europe Cheese would have the perfect medium to begin cheese making. Just as a skilled winemaker does not start with bad grapes, nor does an artisan cheese maker begin handcrafting cheese with low class milk.

Another unique feature that Francois and Old Europe Cheese impart on the cheese making process is to integrate the use of proprietary cheese cultures incubated right on site. Just like San Francisco sour dough bread uses mother starter yeasts for all the bread, the cheese makers at Old Europe Cheese harvest exclusive starter cultures from carefully nurtured vats right at the plant.

Each piece of Reny Picot Old Europe Cheese the world enjoys has been carefully handcrafted by all the partners in one form or another. So, on behalf of all the partners at Old Europe Cheese, we thank you for your patronage of the Reny Picot brand of handcrafted award-winning cheeses.