Eat, Pray, Love!
The pandemic has affected a lot of businesses and some even closed shop.
But father Michael and his team at Vallamborsa cheese shop put on their thinking caps and came up with alternative ways to sustain the business. While they still make a lot less than before, they are managing to stay afloat. Their business has dropped from 100 kilos a day to 10-15 kilos a day.
They were operating under the B2B model and have now included B2C. Some of their long standing clients are Taj group of hotels, Oberoi and Olive Beach. They make 11 varieties of cheese and have dropped one of their popular cheeses "goat cheese". Karnataka focuses on goat meat and not milk hence, they depend on Kerala for their supply. Kerala also believes in the medicinal value of goat milk which ensures quality. However, this dependency on Kerala affected when the borders closed because of which they had to drop the production of Goat cheese and now plan to start their own goat farm on a land they own near Hosur . They use Buffalo milk for all their other varieties of cheese.
Prashant Puttaswamy - Executive chef at Cantan and Fatty Bao and ex Sous Chef at Olive Beach said - "Vallambrosa is the 1st cheese maker in Bengaluru and we have been ordering from them for 15 years now. I cannot think of ordering from anyone else. His quality is not only premium but also consistent. Buratta, the one-time consumption cheese is one of my personal favourites because of the molten centre. A lot of home cooks have been approaching me during this pandemic for recomendations on buffalo milk cheese and I have been directing them to Vallambrosa".
To make 100 kilos of cheese, they require appromiately 400-500 liters of milk. It has not only been difficult to procure Buffalo milk during this pandemic but the quality has also been inconsistent. "What you feed them is very important as the taste and aroma depend on it." Hence, they plan to open their own Buffalo farm to be self reliant and maintain the quality.
The cheese business was started by Father Michael who travelled to Italy to learn the craft of cheese making. It's important to understand the character of each variety of cheese and treat it accordingly. He started this business to help take care of the students who study there and to meet the needs of the monastery.
They make some premium quality cheese and have some very loyal customers one such customer is Tanmoy Savardekar a Chef Consultant. He says - "Having worked abroad on international cruises and having experienced an array of authentic Italian cheeses, father Michael's cheeses are as authentic as it can get in terms of flavour and texture, and his quality is consistent. This has made me their loyal customer since 2005". He also says that the cheese is transported in whey which can be used in making dal, chapatti dough etc as it has milk solids that enhances flavour. Thus ensuring no wastage. My favourite is his Boccacini because it's not only cute but very flavorful which I use in my starters "