A Slice of Cheese Heaven in the Heart of Leominster


The newly opened Fromagerie Madeline cheese shop is located at 43 Main Street in Leominster. Photo courtesy of Jordan Costa.

-Jordan Costa

There is a new love for cheese circulating the Leominster community as artisan tradition creamery and shop, Fromagerie Madeline, has opened their doors to share their worldly knowledge on all things cheese. 

Small business owners, Ryan and Bonnie Randell share a passion and love for cheese and artisan cooking. Bonnie grew up in Leominster and met Ryan while living in New York after college. They moved to Massachusetts in 2012 and Ryan left behind a successful graphic design career for a cheesemaking job that sparked a newfound interest in cheese. Ryan’s wife Bonnie says she was supportive and ready to take on this new journey with her husband.

“Ryan has always had a passion for artisan cooking and brewing his own beer, so when an opportunity came along for a cheesemaking job that was willing to train him, he was immediately interested and quickly became deeply passionate about cheese and dove headfirst into the art and science of cheesemaking.” says owner Bonnie Randell. 

Over the last decade, Ryan has worked for several creameries between Massachusetts and Upstate New York. He has won over 40 medals in cheese competitions, received the Certified Cheese Professional status here in the US, received training all over the world, and has cultivated relationships with cheesemakers all over the country and the world to learn how to make the best cheeses.

Fromagerie Madeline opened their doors in November of 2020 after spending nine months renovating the space in the heart of Leominster. Bonnie Randell, a Leominster native knew that after ten years of living elsewhere that this is where she wanted to plant her roots. Bonnie says that ultimately when planning Fromagerie Madeline and the location, it was a perfect fit for Leominster and for the Randell family. 

“There are very few cheese shops in Massachusetts and even fewer creameries, and we think everyone should have access to the best cheeses!”

Fromagerie Madeline is the namesake for Bonnie and Ryan’s daughter Madeline who is six years old and currently attends Johnny Appleseed Elementary School in Leominster. This is Bonnie and Ryan’s first shop they have opened. 

“We felt that a creamery would be a great fit for both Ryan’s talent and the community, so we spent the last two years learning and preparing to open one. When the space in downtown Leominster became available, we knew it would make a great location for a cheese shop also, so we immediately said yes!”

Ryan first learned how to make cheese from his cheesemaking job at Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon, but he learned the art and science of cheesemaking from courses through the University of Vermont, Westminster Artisan, and at Cornell University. Ryan is well versed in the art of cheesemaking and has learned directly from a number of cheese experts based here in New England, and around the world. In 2016, Ryan completed an immersive course at Academie Mons in Lyon, France to study affinage known as, the aging of cheese. 

The process of making cheese is not a simple one. Fromagerie Madeline receives fresh milk each week from the dairy farmer, which is delivered straight to the two 30 gallon cheese vats. Cultures are added and the milk is heated to start the process. There is special equipment that pasteurizes the mix and keeps track of the time and temperature. When the cheese curds are developed, the excess whey is drained and the curds either are filled into a wheel of cheese to be aged, or the curds will be mixed with salts and seasoning to make the popular farmer’s cheese. When finished, wheels of cheese are produced in the aging facility under their store.

An assortment of cheeses on display at the Fromagerie Madeline cheese counter. Photo courest of the Fromagerie Madeline Facebook page.

Ryan and Bonnie currently work with a young local dairy farmer just over the border in New Hampshire that is growing his herd of Jersey cows. The Randells take great pride in supporting other local businesses in the surrounding area by pairing their cheeses with other local products as well in their shop.

“As we grow, we hope to be able to continue to support even more local food producers. If there are any other local food producers that would like to work with us, we would love to hear from them!”

There are a variety of different products that the Randells produce and put into their cheese counter. The farmer’s cheese spreads come in a variety of flavors such as Wasabi, Italian Herb, Sriracha Hot Pepper, Everything Bagel, and the most popular: Plain Creamy. Other products are also available in the store including nuts, jams, honey, crackers, olives, cutting boards, and more! Everything you could possibly need for a delicious charcuterie board!

While cheese does not age perfectly just overnight, the shop also brings in both local and imported cheeses to share. These selections are different each week and descriptions are sent out in a weekly newsletter including pictures and recommendations. 

“Depending on how fast and well they mature, they could be available in a few months, up to a year or more. In order to offer more hard cheeses on our counter in the meantime, we bring in a rotating selection of amazing cheeses. Some are made locally, and some are produced halfway around the world.” says Bonnie Randell. 

Due to COVID-19, the shop is unable to do a sampling of their products which has certainly been a challenge. For now, they have stuck to the basics. They have played around with different flavors every few weeks with the farmer’s cheese, some of their newer flavors including wasabi and garlic, testing if the community enjoys it. At the end of the day, they say that they wouldn’t put out anything they would not enjoy themselves. Once restrictions are lifted and taste sampling is allowed, Bonnie shares that creating new and exciting flavors will be in the works! For now, their most popular product is the fresh farmer’s cheese spread.

“Once we can sample cheese again, we expect to be able to test out a whole new range of flavors and funkier cheeses.

The Randells express their gratitude for the Leominster community. While opening up a new shop in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is not ideal, their love and passion for cheese have certainly rubbed off on the community.  

“The response from the surrounding community has been nothing short of incredible. We get a lot of cheese love from our customers, and it’s been so fun to get to talk with so many people about their favorite cheeses.”

The shop has been extremely successful and Bonnie says it has exceeded all of their expectations. The first few weeks that the shop was open, they kept running out of cheese because of the unexpectedly high demand.

Fromagerie Madeline has big plans in the works. Not only do they have plans for new cheese flavors and sampling once COVID restrictions allow them to do so, but they are working on more interactive events as well. 

“We have so many exciting plans for the future! Once it’s safe to do so, we will be working on offering small plates and artisan grilled cheeses in store, as well as interactive events, such as cheese pairings, cheesemaking classes, and even international cheese group tours.”

The shop is part of the ever-changing downtown Leominster area and hopes that within the next few years there will be more attraction to the area. There are already many new restaurants including Brady’s and Logan’s Table and so many more exciting new changes happening around Main Street.

“In the meantime, we’re doing everything we can to convince the community that there is a great reason to come and spend time downtown.”

Fromagerie Madeline is located at 43 Main Street in Leominster. The shop is open Friday and Saturday from 10a.m. to 6p.m. and Sundays from 12p.m. to 4p.m.