Chennai-based entrepreneurs’ artisanal cheese studio employs differently-abled girls
Started in 2016, Kase Cheese studio has over 30 different cheese flavors, monthly workshops and events. For the founders Anuradha Krishnamoorthy and Namrata Sundaresan, everything started as a passion rather than a business.
With a background in social entrepreneurship and a master’s in social work, it was Anuradha’s idea to recruit differently-abled girls. As a way to provoke financial independence, the founders have been training the girls to learn the art of making artisanal cheese.
Contradictorily, the entrepreneurs grasped the level of independence and confidence the girls radiated upon working in the studio. While working together, the girls have bonded while finding relevance.
The co-founder Namrata Sundaresan says, “We developed a module where apart from training the girls with cheese-making, we also train them with packaging, accounting, inventory management, billing, and invoice tracking which help them to run a small business”.
The studio has about 45 different products, however, fresh cheeses like mozzarella, feta, and ricotta are the products that the girls learn to make. Under the studio supervisor’s guidance, the girls are trained for over a period of 4 weeks.
While the studio started as passion, it took a good year for the founders to mould it into a business. Cheese as a product existed centuries back but always came with a misconception of being unhealthy. Namrata says, “Processed cheese with copious amounts of preservatives are typically unhealthy but natural cheese that we make is a pure milk based product with no added preservatives, additives, emulsifiers, and stabilisers”.
“Ode to Chennai” is Kase’s famous cheese style that incorporates the local flavour of “Milagai Podi” with cheddar. But, the idea of mixing cheese with flavours loved by the people of the city was actually unplanned. “There was another Chennai-based artisan brand that sent us flaxseed based Milagai Podi and with a sober thought we mixed cheddar and Milagai Podi”. Later when the two thought about giving something back to the city that supported them, the Milagai Podi and cheddar mashup hit their mind.
While constantly innovating new flavours, it is vital for the founders to use clean diary. “We use ethically sourced diary where we only work with farmers who do not inject animals with antibiotics”. Cheese production at Kase follows western traditional methods that were adapted to the Chennai weather conditions. “Our methods strive to retain authentic texture and taste of traditional artisan cheese and guarantees the natural balance of vitamins, proteins and fat which gives cheese its unique characteristics. However, weather conditions and the raw milk lends our cheese its own unique characteristics”, says Namrata.