May 21, 2024


Food never sleeps.

Umberto Somma: A pioneer of Italian cheesemaking

4 min read

The street to achievements was never effortless for Sydney’s king of Italian cheesemaking, Umberto Somma. But the legacy of this guy – who introduced common Italian cheese to Australia – lives on with his two sons at Paesanella Cheese Companies in Marrickville in Sydney’s internal west.

The story of Paesanella Cheese starts in 1956 when a youthful Umberto still left his hometown of Pimonte, in the province of Napoli, and boarded a ship headed to Sydney. He came with no pals, no family members, no English and next to no money, but with large desires of introducing Australia to authentic, Italian cheese.

Umberto arrived at a time when Australia was only beginning to experience broader global cuisines. He had felt that there had been no possibilities for him in Italy so made a decision to deliver his 300-year spouse and children record of cheesemaking to Australia.

All through the first few years, Umberto labored a range of odd employment to help save more than enough income to get started his have cheese business. His 1st investment was in a lose on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. At 7am each day, Umberto designed little batches of mozzarella and ricotta by hand. He then caught a practice to Sydney and offered his cheese doorway-to-door to the nearby Italian migrant group.

Joe Somma, Umberto’s youngest son, suggests this was not straightforward. “He had a whole lot of knockbacks as [people] didn’t know what Italian cheese was. Back in the day, everyone realized Kraft cheese and cheddar cheese and that was variety of the only cheese close to.”

Business enterprise took a turn in 1962 for disposing leftover whey from his cheese into the river and not possessing a licence. Authorities fined him but the Italian consulate negotiated to revoke it and Umberto secured a licence. This was a blessing in disguise, because it was the press Umberto needed to invest in his have manufacturing facility.

Paesanella Cheese Makers is now a cheesemaking institution that operates from its unique Marrickville site. Umberto named his small business Paesanella, which interprets to “state peasant woman” and aligns with the manufacturer’s objective to deliver freshly built country-design and style products the standard, Italian way.

Umberto handed away in 1988, leaving his spouse Teresa, Max and Joe to operate a flourishing business enterprise.

Teresa and Umberto experienced met each and every other 20 years just before that when she had visited the Paesanella manufacturing unit on an Australian family vacation. “She arrived here for a holiday break, but finished up keeping forever,” Joe suggests.

Umberto and Teresa married soon following and labored alongside one another to convert Paesanella into one particular of the most recognised dairy makes in Australia. The family’s cheeses have won multiple awards and are sought after by leading dining establishments and delicatessens across Sydney. Paesenella’s cheeses are also an integral component in lots of property kitchens.

“What tends to make it stand out is the new milk flavour, especially when it arrives to our ricotta and our mozzarella. We’ve perfected it above so numerous several years.”

Joe laughs as he recalls expending days with his brother at their father’s cheese factory as children.

“On the weekends, we’d be dragged out to Marrickville to assistance out at the factory,” Joe recalls. “[Then] a lot of nights, we would essentially go with father to sites all over the japanese suburbs delivering cheese”.

Umberto began instructing his sons how to make conventional Italian cheese from the age of six. Max was additional interested in mastering the methods of the trade than Joe and is now the head cheesemaker at Paesanella. Joe valued the time he used with his father and the daily life classes he inherited, these as to always regard clients.

Paesanella’s recipes are now four generations’ old and attribute a signature ricotta, fior di latte, bocconcini, burrata, fresco cheese and mascarpone. The cheese is manufactured and sold refreshing day by day.

“What would make it stand out is the clean milk flavour, particularly when it comes to our ricotta and our mozzarella,” Joe states. “We have perfected it more than so quite a few many years.”

Paesanella’s bestseller is its ricotta cheese, which is obtainable in three types: fresh new, buffalo or dry.

“We use purely milk to make our ricotta, while a great deal of other companies will use whey and insert some milk to it,” Joe points out.

To fulfill increasing need, the Somma relatives has expanded the company’s retail giving by opening an Italian restaurant and café. Paesanella’s Pizza Bar, which attributes Paesanella cheese, sits on the ground floor of their four-storey developing and is a brief walk from their first factory in Marrickville.

The cheese is also obtainable for acquire at the Paesanella Food items Emporium, which is 1 of the couple of locations in the nation where you can obtain new warm ricotta or buffalo mozzarella that’s manufactured everyday.

The Paesanella model is all the things that Italian cheese ought to be. Max and Joe hope to go on their father’s legacy and continue on serving the contemporary and genuine Neapolitan-design and style cheese that Australians adore.

Adore the story? Abide by the creator Melissa Woodley here: Instagram @sporkdiariesPictures equipped by Joe Somma.