Jeff Jirik '79
Jeff grew up on his family's 3rd generation dairy farm near Lonsdale, MN. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Biology from St. John's University in December, 1979 Jeff went to work as a Quality Assurance Technician with Treasure Cave Cheese in Faribault. He later moved to Wausau, WI with the same company, gaining experience with American natural cheeses. In 1986 he returned to Faribault where he worked on the project team to increase blue cheese production at the plant. When Con Agra closed the Faribault plant in 1993, Jeff became the Plant Manager at IFP, Inc. an innovative dairy ingredients processor and packager. Jeff was on the leadership team that proposed designed and constructed a new state-of-the-art pharmaceutical grade manufacturing and packaging facility in Faribault's in 1994. In 1996, Jeff joined ABC Companies, Inc. as Vice President of National Operations, coordinating operations at six regional locations at this transportation specialist company. In 2001 he and his wife Brenda purchased the cheese caves where he once worked. On May 21st, 2001 Jeff incorporated Faribault Dairy Company, Inc. with a former coworker. The vision was to once again produce a "world class" blue cheese in the historic sandstone cheese caves of Faribault, MN. Today, Jeff is Chief Cheese maker and President for Faribault Dairy. Faribault Dairy employs 26 people full time and several other people part time. Their handmade artisan cheeses have won national and international awards including being named one of the "100 Great Cheeses of the World" by Wine Spectator magazine. Jeff is also a Certified Organic Farmer, producing corn, milling oats and food grade soybeans on the family farm. He is a member of the Sustainable Farming Association of MN and Slow Foods. He is active in the American Cheese Society and a Director of the North Central Cheese Industry Association. Still a licensed Wisconsin cheese maker, he also belongs to the WI Specialty Cheese makers Association and the WI Cheese makers Association.