Hello! If you’ve been looking for cheese and landed here, The Cheese Ark is essentially a result of a decade’s worth of travelling and experiences that I, Ai Ming Syu, have had.
The short of it is, life led me to old school, authentic European cheeses and that led me to you.
In the early 2000s, l followed, I suppose, what could be called a buried compass, and started working on small holding farms in Italy, making real and traditional cheeses.
When I tasted the handmade cheeses that came out of these farms, I discovered a completely new taste spectrum to cheese. On taste alone, it made absolutely clear what real cheese was supposed to be like. It also instantaneously declassified everything else that was labelled ‘cheese’ in the stores.
Since then, I’ve worked in many more similar farms and hunted down many more cheeses, for no good reason other than the pleasure of eating real, authentic cheeses. Except that every time I was blown away by what I was eating, it felt like a real shame for me to be the only one enjoying it. I thought everyone should have access to it, everyone should know what real cheese is about, and no one should have to settle for anything less than real.
So here we are, bringing in all the great cheeses I’ve hunted down for myself all these years, telling you about the actual cheesemakers who make them, the farms they live in, and why all these lead to the cheese being great.
WHY ‘THE CHEESE ARK’
The reason why I’ve spent a lot of time travelling and hunting down cheeses early on is because traditional cheesemakers with tiny cheese farms (think a husband and wife team, added by one or two extra help to cut grass or build sheds whenever needed) are a dying trade.
Factories are churning out more and more commercial cheeses marketed cleverly with all the artisanal visual cues – meadows, happy cows, complete with log cabin on a field. Together with lower prices and a wider distribution network, these are all things which small farmstead cheesemakers are unable to compete with. Also, as the world moves ahead with packaged consistency and longer shelf life, it creates less of a place for these variable handmade crafts.
Each year, many of these old guards are forced to close and their cheeses disappear along with it. Now is the time to eat these cheeses. No one can be sure of their existence in the near or far future.
We’re called The Cheese Ark because we gather these cheeses as much as we can, whilst we can. By eating them, we will all contribute to their dying economy and prolong their existence. Business-wise, this seemed the most appropriate name for us. But really, if you are eating cheeses from us, you are as much a part of The Cheese Ark as we are.