Umberto Somma: A pioneer of Italian cheesemaking

The street to accomplishment was never straightforward for Sydney’s king of Italian cheesemaking, Umberto Somma. But the legacy of this male – who introduced standard Italian cheese to Australia – lives on with his two sons at Paesanella Cheese Brands in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west.

The story of Paesanella Cheese starts in 1956 when a young Umberto remaining his hometown of Pimonte, in the province of Napoli, and boarded a ship headed to Sydney. He arrived with no good friends, no household, no English and subsequent to no money, but with major goals of introducing Australia to reliable, Italian cheese.

Umberto arrived at a time when Australia was only starting to encounter broader global cuisines. He had felt that there ended up no possibilities for him in Italy so decided to deliver his 300-12 months household background of cheesemaking to Australia.

All through the very first couple decades, Umberto worked a selection of odd careers to preserve sufficient money to begin his individual cheese business enterprise. His to start with financial investment was in a lose on the banking institutions of the Hawkesbury River. At 7am every day, Umberto manufactured modest batches of mozzarella and ricotta by hand. He then caught a coach to Sydney and bought his cheese door-to-doorway to the area Italian migrant local community.

Joe Somma, Umberto’s youngest son, suggests this was not effortless. “He experienced a lot of knockbacks as [people] didn’t know what Italian cheese was. Again in the day, every person realized Kraft cheese and cheddar cheese and that was type of the only cheese all around.”

Enterprise took a turn in 1962 for disposing leftover whey from his cheese into the river and not owning a licence. Authorities fined him but the Italian consulate negotiated to revoke it and Umberto secured a licence. This was a blessing in disguise, due to the fact it was the force Umberto essential to purchase his very own factory.

Paesanella Cheese Companies is now a cheesemaking institution that operates from its unique Marrickville area. Umberto named his business enterprise Paesanella, which interprets to “country peasant lady” and aligns with the manufacturer’s intention to generate freshly manufactured country-type products the regular, Italian way.

Umberto handed absent in 1988, leaving his spouse Teresa, Max and Joe to operate a thriving company.

Teresa and Umberto experienced met every single other 20 a long time prior to that when she had frequented the Paesanella factory on an Australian getaway. “She arrived here for a vacation, but ended up keeping forever,” Joe states.

Umberto and Teresa married shortly after and labored collectively to convert Paesanella into 1 of the most recognised dairy models in Australia. The family’s cheeses have won several awards and are sought soon after by leading dining places and delicatessens throughout Sydney. Paesenella’s cheeses are also an integral component in lots of property kitchens.

“What tends to make it stand out is the fresh new milk flavour, in particular when it arrives to our ricotta and our mozzarella. We have perfected it more than so lots of several years.”

Joe laughs as he recollects paying out times with his brother at their father’s cheese manufacturing unit as children.

“On the weekends, we would be dragged out to Marrickville to support out at the factory,” Joe recollects. “[Then] numerous nights, we would actually go with father to destinations about the eastern suburbs delivering cheese”.

Umberto began instructing his sons how to make classic Italian cheese from the age of 6. Max was much more intrigued in mastering the tricks of the trade than Joe and is now the head cheesemaker at Paesanella. Joe valued the time he expended with his father and the lifestyle lessons he inherited, these kinds of as to normally respect clients.

Paesanella’s recipes are now 4 generations’ previous and element a signature ricotta, fior di latte, bocconcini, burrata, fresco cheese and mascarpone. The cheese is manufactured and bought refreshing every day.

“What makes it stand out is the new milk flavour, primarily when it will come to our ricotta and our mozzarella,” Joe claims. “We’ve perfected it in excess of so a lot of several years.”

Paesanella’s bestseller is its ricotta cheese, which is obtainable in 3 types: refreshing, buffalo or dry.

“We use purely milk to make our ricotta, whereas a large amount of other firms will use whey and add some milk to it,” Joe clarifies.

To fulfill escalating demand from customers, the Somma loved ones has expanded the company’s retail giving by opening an Italian cafe and café. Paesanella’s Pizza Bar, which capabilities Paesanella cheese, sits on the floor floor of their four-storey setting up and is a limited wander from their initial factory in Marrickville.

The cheese is also obtainable for buy at the Paesanella Food items Emporium, which is 1 of the handful of locations in the nation wherever you can purchase contemporary warm ricotta or buffalo mozzarella which is made everyday.

The Paesanella brand name is everything that Italian cheese should be. Max and Joe hope to pass on their father’s legacy and proceed serving the fresh new and genuine Neapolitan-design and style cheese that Australians adore.

Really like the tale? Comply with the writer Melissa Woodley right here: Instagram @sporkdiariesPhotographs provided by Joe Somma.

Theresa D. Begay

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