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Published February 06, 2009, 12:00 AM

Artisan cheesecake springs from cherished recipe

For Montana native Chris Lemmon, the youngest of 14 children, cooking was his family chore. As a child, he sampled a cheesecake made by his cousin’s grandmother who had worked at a café in New York. “I fell in love with it.”

For Montana native Chris Lemmon, the youngest of 14 children, cooking was a necessity.

“Everybody had a job to do, and I grew up cooking,” said Lemmon.

As a child, he sampled a cheesecake made by his cousin’s grandmother who had worked at a café in New York. “I fell in love with it.” For years Lemmon asked for the recipe but being young he wasn’t deemed worthy.

“Somehow the recipe ended up in my mother’s recipe box years later,” said Lemmon. “Through the years I have refined it and made it my own, and the sky is the limit as far as what can be done with it.”

While attending college in Bozeman, Lemmon met his wife, Farrah, daughter of Steve and Rita McDonald of Hudson.

“She drove me out of the mountains,” said Lemmon. The couple relocated to the Midwest in 2000 and to their present Hudson location in 2008, spending some time living in Rochester, Minn.

Farrah is an architect at Frisbie Architects in River Falls, and they have three children, Adison, Bayen and Bridger.

After years of encouragement from friends and family members, Lemmon took a leap of faith last fall, going into business making his favorite dessert. He and Farrah built a commercial kitchen in their home and founded Cheesecake 15, LLC. Lemmon, a biologist with an emphasis in aquatics, is a now a stay-at-home parent while pursuing his first love, cheesecake.

“Every three months there will be a new menu,” said Lemmon. “The Midwest New Yorker is our signature cheesecake.” The Spring-ish 15 menu includes White Chocolate Cloud, Toodis the Turtle (so far, a customer favorite), The White Russian, Irish Cream Dream and Berry-n-Cherry Black Forest.

Lemmon talks about his cheesecakes like someone might describe the nuances of wine. He makes everything from scratch, even his own almond cream.

“I make the cheesecakes according to when people want them,” said Lemmon, who bakes to order and cautions it takes two days between order and pick-up. The cheesecakes are not frozen and, to preserve taste, quality and presentation, they are not cut.

However, Lemmon offered these tips for slicing his creations: Use a long, thin knife and rinse it in hot water between slices; or use sterilized fishing line or dental floss.

“I like them to have their own characteristics and personality like people,” said Lemmon of his creations. As a result they each may weigh a little more or less and they may be taller or shorter depending on the variety.

“It is a lot of trial and error to come up with the new varieties. My daughter Adison is my taste tester. If she doesn’t like it, it goes back to the chopping block to get refined.” Ironically, Lemmon’s wife doesn’t like cheesecake but based on the initial response a lot of other people do.

He’s created exclusive varieties available only at the Nova, a Pear Riesling and a Chocolate Port.

“It is all based on the cheesecake — the flavors are subtle and blend well,” said Lemmon.

Cheesecake 15 offers two sizes, 6 inches in diameter (serves 6 to 8) and a 9-inch one (serves 12 to 16).

To order a cheesecake, peruse the complete menu or read the descriptions of all 15 cakes, visit www.cheesecake15.com. Hours for ordering, pick-up and delivery (locally for a small charge) are also listed online. You can also order by calling (715) 338-8889.

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