The new season of Bravo’s Top Chef has begun, taking place right here in the state of Wisconsin.

This week’s episode was a flavorful nod to Wisconsin agriculture, featuring Door County cherries as the signature ingredient in the Quickfire round, as well as several other statewide ingredients including ginseng.

However, the primary focus of the episode paid homage to what Wisconsin is, arguably, known best for: Wisconsin cheese. Chefs drew knives to cook with one of a variety of cheeses crafted across the state before setting to creating a dish highlighting it for the panel of judges and 100 guests at the first-ever Top Chef Cheese Festival.

We won’t spoil anything from the episode, but you, too, can be a Top Chef with Wisconsin Cheese with one of these five recipes highlighting cheese in all of its forms.

Appetizer: Cheese Balls

Picture this: a quintessential cheese ball, a cherished creation straight from the heart of dairy country! Imagine a luxurious blend of creamy cream cheese melding with tangy cheddar, perhaps with a hint of zesty garlic and aromatic herbs thrown in for good measure.

We lovingly shape this luscious mixture into a charming sphere before giving it a cozy coat of crunchy chopped nuts or crispy bacon, adding layers of flavor and texture. Served chilled, this cheese ball steals the show at any gathering, spreading its cheesy goodness on crackers or veggies with every delightful bite. It’s a true homage to all things cheesy and utterly irresistible!

Festive Party Cheese Balls
Explore a variety of different flavors with these three different spins on festive cheese balls. From a sweet and spicy to the zest of dill, these will be sure to please at your next gathering.
Get the Wisconsin Cheese recipe here.
Photo credit: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
A plate with three different and festive cheese balls on a white plate with crackers and vegetables.

Salad: Pesto-Caesar Salmon Salad with Bread Cheese Croutons

In the world of lettuce salads, cheeses are like loyal companions, enriching each leaf with their diverse flavors and textures.

Imagine the creamy tanginess of goat cheese crumbles, the sharpness of aged Parmesan, or the salty bite of feta, each enhancing the freshness of the greens in its unique way. Meanwhile, blue cheese adds a pungent complexity, while mozzarella offers a mild creaminess that pairs perfectly with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. From crumbled to shaved to melted, cheeses elevate lettuce salads into culinary delights, transforming every forkful into a flavorful adventure worth savoring.

Pesto-Caesar Salmon Salad with Bread Cheese Croutons
This refreshing salad plays into the delightful flavor and texture of juustoleipa cheese. This Finnish cheese doesn't melt, but is deliciously soft, buttery and creamy when warm.
Get the Wisconsin Cheese recipe here.
Photo credit: Dairy Farmers of WIsconsin
A bed of leafy green romaine lettuce topped with salmon fillets and cubed Car Valley Garlic Bread Cheese.

Main Course: Braised Pork with Gouda Consommé

Consommé is a type of clear soup that is typically made by clarifying stock, resulting in a flavorful and transparent liquid. To make consommé, a mixture of ground meat, typically beef or chicken, along with vegetables and egg whites, is added to stock. As the consommé cooks, the egg whites coagulate and trap impurities and solids, which are then skimmed off the surface. The consommé is then strained through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove any remaining particles, resulting in a clear and flavorful liquid. Consommé can be served as a starter or used as a base for other dishes.

Gouda cheese enhances consommé by adding richness and nuttiness to the broth, melting to provide creaminess and a hint of sweetness, and balancing flavors with its saltiness. It can be grated or melted directly into the consommé, elevating its taste profile and contributing to its overall depth and complexity.

Braised Pork with Gouda Consommé
In this recipe, explore this gouda cheese carefully cured for 6-9 months on imported Dutch pine planks in aging cellars. The gouda has a full flavor with a subtle bite and caramel notes.
Get the Wisconsin Cheese recipe here.
Photo credit: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
A bowl featuring a cut of pork shoulder roast topped with shaved gouda atop of a gouda consumme.

Side Dish: Crispy Smashed Potatoes

These smashed potatoes give you a similar flavor to twice baked potato – but crispy! These are fantastically simple as either a side or appetizer.

This recipe uses Top Hat™ Bandaged Cheddar cheese, a traditional English-style cheddar that’s cave-aged for at least six months, yielding a smooth, rich flavor. This aged cheddar won Best of Class at the 2018 World Championship Cheese and 2019 U.S. Championship Cheese Contests.

Outside of this recipe, enjoy it paired with cabernet sauvignon, Chianti or pinot noir, or try it with a bock, stout or pale ale beer.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes
A delightfully simple recipe that is a tasty, crispy spin on the twice-baked potato. The use of cheese aids in the crispiness and gives this side a savoury flavor.
Get the Wisconsin Cheese recipe here.
Photo credit: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
Six smashed potato skins topped with cheddar cheese on a baking tray.

Dessert: Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Merlot BellaVitano®

If you caught the most recent episode of Top Chef, you may recall Kaleena Bliss hyping up Sartori’s Merlot BellaVitano® cheese. And this author must agree with her assessment!

Sartori’s Merlot BellaVitano® is rich and flavorful because of its fruity notes of plum and berry. This recipe embraces that flavor by folding it into the batter of this lemon olive oil cake. This is the perfect way to not only enjoy a new cheese but incorporate it into a dish you wouldn’t normally expect.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Merlot BellaVitano®
Enjoy this refreshing lemon bundt cake that embraces the flavors of summer. This recipe features Sartori's signature BellaVitano® cheese is handcrafted with merlot wine.
Get the Wisconsin Cheese recipe here.
Photo credit: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
A round, yellow bundt cake on top of a white serving tray. Frosting is drizzled atop the cake, which has a slice taken out of it. There are slices of fresh fruit garnishing througout the image.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch it, new episodes of Top Chef air Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo or can be streamed next day on Peacock.