CHENNAI: P Narayan knows his cheese. For someone who has been dealing with this dairy product for the past 10 years, he can identify the variety just by the look of it. “I was earlier working as a manager at a gourmet store. After quitting, I wanted to sell Karachi biscuits on every street as it was fast moving. Back then, cheese was coming into demand. Many restaurants were finding it difficult to source it from international markets since it was an expensive affair. I decided to open my own gourmet store with imported products, mainly cheese,” said Narayan, the founder of JK Cheese N More in Nungambakkam.
The older, the better
Depending on the longevity of maturity and moisture content, cheese is categorised into hard, soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, sliced, and liquid. “Milk is the base for any cheese. Europen countries like Italy, France, and Denmark are known for their variety because of the good quality of milk. These cheeses cannot be faked in the Indian market since our quality of milk is not great. The older it matures, the better. Cheese can take eight to 36 months for maturation,” he said while pointing at a 40 kg parmesan cheese wheel.
Beyond mozzarella and feta
Over the span, Narayan has collaborated with over 20 international and selective brands for cheese. He has 80 varieties of cheese stocked at his store. Some are stored in a chilled environment and the rest are frozen — depending on the make of the cheese. The longer the maturity, the harder they become. This is the reason why each cheese serves a different purpose when it comes to baking and cooking. “I have no professional course. I learned everything in the field. Collecting cheese is an art. After all these years, I can call myself a cheese connoisseur confidently.”
Some of the commonly purchased ones in our market are cheddar, parmesan, mascarpone, nachos, gouda, swiss, emmental, brie, ricotta, blue cheese, goat cheese, and halloumi. Mounds of cheese in all shapes and sizes are stored in respective temperature. Based on the type, they’re segregated for the purpose of use.
“Our people know of a few varieties and keep buying them. Some exotic ones are specifically in demand among foreigners and expats who visit star hotels. We also cater to them based on demand. Stock from any country roughly takes 45 days to be shipped by sea to ours. We place orders based on what sells in our market,” he added.
He recently visited cheese exhibitions in Singapore, Paris, and Dubai. Moved by the quality and flavours, Narayan picked a few from Paris. “We will be introducing vegan cheese in a week. The concept is in its nascent stage and will take time to reach the public. We will also open cheese bars so that people can select the desired quantity, get them sliced as per requirement and boxed. A cheese platter comprising slices of assorted cheese is another option we are introducing. It’s a good gifting option,” he shared.
Of syrups, berries, and meat
Alongside cheese, they have 30 variants of meat like chicken sausage, ham, and more. Blueberries, avocado, tender coconut, lemon and raspberries are latest additions based on the requirement. Various kinds of pasta, jelly, purees, and pickles are among the others.
“Our salmon comes from Norway, scallops from the US, and lamb from New York. We also sell butter and whipped cream. Chennai market is aware of international products. The recent increase in cheese pairing sessions is evidence,” he said.
JK Cheese N More has cheese products from Rs 100. For details, call: 42025934/9841131008