Meet the cheesemaking monks in Bengaluru

After 15 years of constructing cheese, the monks of Vallombrosa Bendictine Congregation have been decided to maintain going, regardless of by the challenges of the pandemic.

Sold underneath the model title Vallombrosa Cheese, named after the order’s monastery in Tuscany, Italy, the enterprise produces 10 sorts of artisanal cheese. Although many eating places and motels, their principal prospects, downed shutters, word-of-mouth publicity for his or her model ensured that there have been consumers proper at residence in Bengaluru.

“About 60 apartment complexes in Bengaluru buy from us directly, a service that we began during the lockdown. We have our own delivery staff and that kept us going during the lockdown, helping us pay the wages of our workers and preventing any layoffs,” says Father Jins, current head of the Vallombrosa Bendictine Congregation at KR Puram in Bengaluru.

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Reducing the manufacturing of soppy cheese like mozzarella and ricotta, a few of their bestsellers, they elevated manufacturing of laborious cheese corresponding to Parmesan and Pecorino which retains higher and tastes higher with age.

In the meantime, the congregation additionally began a goat farm in Hosur to obtain milk for goat cheese. Prior to the lockdown, goat milk was provided from their centre in Kottayam. “It stopped during the lockdown. That is when we began the farm to ensure continuous supply of 40 to 50 litres of goat milk,” says Fr Jins.

Post lockdown, the small unit should ramp up their manufacturing as main prospects and premium lodge chains have resumed shopping for cheese from them. “At present, we make cheese from about 700 to 800 litres. Our quality is our best publicity.”

How it began

In 2004, Father KL Michael, who hails from Kottayam, Kerala, recreated the Italian cheese-making course of in Bengaluru. During his eight-year keep in Vallombrosa, close to Florence in Italy, headquarters of the Vallombrosan Bendictine monks, Fr Michael visited cheese-making centres in and round Tuscany and Naples.

“Naples is famous for buffalo mozzarella while North Italy is well-known for hard cheese. In 2000, I returned to India and took charge of Gualbert Bhavan in Bengaluru. Each house of ours is supposed to be financially sustainable. Our motto is ‘pray and work’. Hence, I tried to think of a way to be financially independent that also involved manual work,” recollects the 48-year-old.

An Italian buddy of his, a businessman, advised that Fr Michael may make cheese, pretty much as good Italian cheese was laborious to return by in India. So, he returned to Italy and in a month’s time was educated to make cheese in Naples. “It is not easy to train in these places as they are not keen on sharing trade secrets. With the help of our monastery, they permitted me to learn from them,” he says.

Armed with the coaching and notes, he returned to Gaulbert House. Through trial and error, he started cheese making with buffalo milk procured from farms in the neighborhood. “In 2004, we exported second hand machinery from Italy and began on a small scale. The vegetarian culture to curdle the milk is also bought from Italy although we were able to buy it from North India during the lockdown.”

Vallombrosa Cheese now makes the much-in-demand Burrata, mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, ricotto, bocconcini, mascarpone, cheddar and Caciotta.

‘A foothold in the market’

Once the cheese making began, they started to search for consumers. Fr Jins remembers that they have been capable of get a foothold in the market solely in 2006 when Chef Manjit Singh, presently the President of the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations and an influential chef at ITC Hotels, helped them with the first massive order and unfold the phrase round about the high quality of their cheese. Soon, massive lodge chains corresponding to the Taj, Oberoi and Mariott grew to become common prospects.

“It was during the lockdown that we started directly selling to customers,” says Fr Jins. Their top-seller, he says, is Burrata, a creamy cheese which has prospects in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Kochi asking for extra.

At current, there are 4 monks and 10 staffers making cheese. Fr Jins says that what makes the cheese particular is that they add no preservatives, and likewise the proven fact that the style has not modified over the final 15 years.

Vallombrosa Benedictine Congregation, Sacred Heart Road, Ok. R. Puram, Bengaluru, could be reached at 09845449064.

2021-10-28 16:16:41

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