Meet Brent Delman, Westchester’s “Cheese Guy” by Westchester Magazine

Yonkers wholesale affineur Brent Delman is bringing the cheese course back to the kosher table.

Sawmill River Pecorino

Sawmill River Pecorino

The Cheese Guy, Brent Delman, fuses his cheese-making trifecta—Eastern European Jewish heritage, Italian upbringing outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and proximity to Amish farms—to create mouthwatering artisanal, kosher cheeses from his Yonkers home cheese cave. With more than 20 years of experience in the food specialty industry, his return to a traditional Jewish lifestyle, and an MBA from George Washington University, Delman saw the growing need to provide kosher aged cheeses to kosher, vegetarian, and gluten-free consumers. “Having grown up in a non-kosher home, I knew what we were missing and I don’t think food should be an obstacle in anyone’s spiritual path or that anyone should be deprived,” says Delman.

Brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, his Pepato Pecorino is aged for almost year, allowing the scattering of black peppercorns to permeate the entire wheel—a result that could not be achieved without aging. A silent nod to Yonkers is his aptly named Saw Mill River Pecorino. Made from sheep’s milk and imported, young and mild from Sardinia, it is then aged two years in Delman’s cheese cellar resulting in a smoky, nutty, and smooth cheese.

According to Delman, “to make a cheese kosher the milk used must come from a kosher animal, the rennet must be vegetarian, and the processing facility must be cleansed, sanitized, heat treated and inspected to ensure there are no non-kosher ingredients in the production process.”

 As one of the few artisanal kosher cheese producers in the country, Delman’s cheeses are carried at fine luxury hotels worldwide, like the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, for their Passover vacation packages. The Cheese Guy’s creations are available locally at specialty stores like FairwayMint, Adams Fairacre Farms (in Dutchess County), and at the Riverdale Farmers Market Sundays from May to November. Delman says, “There is a real art to aging cheese and my goal as a local affineur, is to take an ordinary block of cheese and derive its greatness.”

(718) 698-5154; www.thecheeseguy.com

Negev-based Boutique Cheese Maker Offers Travelers a Tasty Shavuot

Posted on April 29, 2014  and filed under ShavuotSpecial Sections.

By Maayan Jaffe/JNS.org

Originally posted  on  JNS.org

An assortment of cheeses pictured at the Kornmehl farm in the Negev. The Kornmehls consider themselves cheese artisans. They make specialty cheeses ranging from brie to camembert at their farm. Credit: Provided photo.

 

Standing alone against the desert landscape, Kornmehl Goat Cheese Farm & Restaurant is modest, lacking artsy adornments and embellishments that tourists often favor. But situated about 30 miles south of Sde Boker, the home of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, the farm is a striking example of how the once vast desert region that most tourists simply ignored is blooming today.

Owners Anat and Daniel Kornmehl are considered by many chefs to be the finest makers of goat cheese in Israel. People flock from across the Negev, as well as other parts of Israel, to taste the farm’s camembert, Tommes de Pyrenees, Edna, and their hard Alpine-like cheese called Adi, named after one of their goats.

Come Shavuot, when families focus on dairy at their festive meals, the establishment becomes even more popular.

The Kornmehls, both agronomists trained at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, started the farm in 1997, five years after they acquired their first herd of goats. Anat Kornmehl said after she and her husband graduated, they went to Australia and New Zealand to find an idea for something to do in the agriculture arena. When they returned, she started working at the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture guiding farmers on how to raise goats and sheep.

Goats at Kornmehl farm in the Negev. Forty goats live at the farm, providing the milk for its gourmet cheese. Credit: Provided photo.
 

“We started to get more and more into it,” Anat Kornmehl recalled. “We started raising our own goats and milking them and then processing the milk into cheese and selling the cheese.”

That was 20 years ago in Jerusalem. But the red tape, Anat explained, was frustrating. With limited land, they struggled to let their goats graze naturally. The Kornmehls believe that the health of their goats affects the quality of their cheese. The goats are antibiotic and hormone free and the Kornmehls give constant attention to the goats’ living conditions and food. The move to the Negev made their organic dreams possible.

The Kornmehl’s land is leased from the government. The couple manages waste carefully to protect the fragile environment and minimalize damage to the land caused by the herd.

Daniel and Anat emphasize traditional values of cheese making, while adapting them to the local environment. They create cheeses that are personal interpretations of famous French varieties. Anat Kornmehl said the Negev, with its low humidity, is conducive to raising goats.

The Kornmehl far, pictured, is located in southern Israel with magical views of the desert hills. The farm faces the remnants of terraces belonging to an ancient farm from the Middle Bronze period (3000 to 4000 BC). Credit: Provided photo.
 

It has also been conducive to raising children. A mother of three kids aged 17, 13, and 10, Anat Kornmehl said the youths help out on the farm and enjoy the animals. They also get extra time with their parents that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

“They have the quiet and the family things we do together. Because we work on the farm, we are available for the kids all the time,” she said. “Some parents, they take their kids to school, go to work, come back at night. It is not that we work less; we work a lot. But we can stop at any time of day to be with the kids, assist them.”

The couple’s son, Michael, described his life as “nice and sweet,” and said the biggest challenge is transportation. No public transit passes the Kornmehl farm and it can be hard to visit friends or participate in weekend activities. But he has gotten used to his role with the dairy.

“Sometimes I walk with them [the goats]. I take them up to the milking shed, close the gate and help feed them,” Michael said, noting he also works in the restaurant, usually selling the cheeses or washing dishes.

Does he play with the goats?

“There is not much to play with them,” he said with a laugh. “Goats are stubborn.”

At one time, the Kornmehls had more than 100 goats. But last year, they took a sabbatical to Australia and cut their herd to only 47. Each of the 40 female goats that is of age to bear kids produces roughly 700 liters (185 gallons) of milk per 9 to 10-month season. One liter of milk is equivalent to 1 liter of yogurt; 6 liters of milk makes about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of brie or other milky cheeses; and eight to 10 liters of milk makes about 1 kilogram of hard cheese.

 At its restaurant, the Negev-based Kornmehl farm offers a cheese pizza slathered in its famous mozzarella cheese, among other dishes like those pictured here. Credit: Provided photo.
 

 The Kornmehls allow their baby goats to nurse directly from their mothers in the first two months. Then they wean them, and the rest of the milk is for the farm. People who visit the restaurant can see the milking process in action. Anat said children visitors love the roaming goats and learn—often for the first time—that milk does not grow on a grocery store shelf.

The restaurant—famous for its pizza, filo dough filled with two types of goat cheese and fresh red pepper, and knafeh made of Kadaif noodles, cheese, and pistachios—uses only local produce and wine. While not kosher certified, all of the Kornmehl farm products are kosher and they do not operate on Shabbat.

Brent Delman of Yonkers, NY, who is known as the “Cheese Guy,” said several factors can affect the taste of cheese, from the type and breed of the animal to the land on which they graze and even the air they breathe. He explained that sheep and goats tend to have more fat in their milk and that it is higher in protein.

“It lends itself to a different taste, usually stronger, tangier, maybe even gamey,” Delman said.

In the U.S., cow cheese tends to be the most popular, produced predominantly in Wisconsin, California, Vermont and New York. Cheddar is the most popular American cheese, said Delman, though more mozzarella (because of pizza) is consumed more than any other type.

For years, salty cheeses such as feta and spreadable cheeses modeled after German quark were available in Israel. But Delman, who visits Israel regularly and has a son in the Israeli army, said Israel is trending now toward specialty cheeses and boutique cheeses, like those produced by the Kornmehls.

He said as more kosher artisanal and specialty cheese makers, like the Kornmehls and him, enter the marketplace, observant Jews will have the opportunity to add new flavor to their meals. On Shavuot, Delman recommends combining honey or date spreads with cheese, recalling the biblical reference to Israel as a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Kornmehls offered a special Passover menu last month and will likely provide specialty dishes for Shavuot, too. They will not, however, be shipping their cheeses to the States. If you want to taste their delicacies, you’ll have to take a trip to southern Israel.

Maayan Jaffe is a freelance writer in Overland Park, Kan. Reach Maayan at maayanjaffe@icloud.com or follow her on Twitter, @MaayanJaffe.

Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.

Wine And — Sigh — Cheese? (The Jewish Week)

05/20/14  Lauren Rothman,  Food and Wine Editor
Article is from  TheJewishWeek.com 
View PDF print version TheJewishWeek May2014.

Wine And — Sigh — Cheese?

Kosher cheese lags behind libations in quality, but passionate artisans are catching up.

Nothing goes better with a fine glass of wine than a nice hunk of aged cheese. But when you’re cracking open a lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon whose grapes were harvested from the mineral-rich hills of the Promised Land, a shrink-wrapped package of Muenster cheese slices just won’t do.

Especially during Shavuot, when we Jews celebrate all things dairy, a question emerges: Why, in an age when kosher vintners produce some of the finest and most varied bottles available, is the state of kosher cheeses so far behind? Why is it so hard to find a decent Parmesan to grate over our pasta, or a tangy fresh goat cheese to spread over our baguette? Sure, our local kosher market overflows with pre-sliced squares of bright-orange cheddar, and big bags of grated mozzarella — but why does it remain hard to find something a little more special?

To look for answers, we turned to some kosher cheese experts: Brent Delman, a wholesale food distributor who founded The Cheese Guy, his own line of high-end kosher cheeses that he ages in his Yonkers cheese cave; Brigitte Mizrahi, owner of the New Jersey-based kosher cheese company Anderson International Foods; Mark Bodzin, a former marketing manager who successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to produce a limited-run aged kosher cheddar in Vermont; Yoram Behiri, president and CEO of Tnuva USA, a billion-dollar food conglomerate specializing in kosher dairy; and Rabbi Zushe Blech, a kosher consultant formerly of the OU and the author of “Kosher Food Production.”

Delman’s spacious Yonkers home has all the trappings of a middle-class life: a large backyard where the kids can play and a friendly, romping yellow lab puppy. Yet there’s something a little different about the house, which is revealed when Delman opens the door to the basement stairs: there’s something funky in the air. That funk emanates from wheel upon wheel of aged, European-style cheeses that sit on plastic racks in Delman’s custom-built, temperature- and humidity-controlled cheese cave. Nutty, crumbly Parmesan; tangy veined blue; cheddar that’s actually sharp: it’s all here.

“It’s all about the rennet,” Delman said of the secret to his kosher cheeses, referring to the naturally occurring enzyme used in cheesemaking to coagulate milk, separating it into curds and whey. Because this enzyme is produced in a calf’s stomach — the animals need it to digest the milk they drink from their mothers — it is unsuitable for making kosher cheese. So, for decades, kosher cheese producers have focused on creating the wonderful soft “cheeses” — cream cheese, cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese — that make up such a huge part of the Jewish diet: these spreads are not technically cheeses and require only vinegar or lemon juice, not rennet, to be made. Cheeses requiring rennet — especially European-style aged cheeses — were neglected in favor of these dairy choices.

But over the past 20 years, the availability and affordability of microbial rennet, which is produced by certain fungi, has revolutionized the kosher cheese world: This rennet can be used in the same way as its traditional counterpart to create the flavors in cheese that connoisseurs like Delman seek out.

There’s another issue at play, Delman says: cheese is seen, somehow, as less central to a special meal than is meat.

“In the kosher world, cheese has been the neglected younger sibling to meat,” he said. “At a celebratory meal, you can have meat, or you can have cheese. Diners typically choose meat, and cheese has gotten the short shrift.”

Mark Bodzin, whose Kickstarter campaign to fund two days of kosher cheddar production at a mainstream Vermont cheese factory exceeded its $16,000 goal in March, agreed.

“People need to have exposure to this in order to know that they want it,” he said. “Slowly but surely, we’re going to begin to demand a bit more of our cheeses.”

Rabbi Blech sees another obstacle to widespread enjoyment of kosher cheeses: cost. He notes that while the quality of most factory-made kosher foods can be monitored by systems, not people, kosher cheeses specifically require the presence of a mashgiach — and when companies have to pay for a mashgiach, the overall cost of producing the cheese goes way up.

“For rennet-set cheeses, the mashgiach has to be there to add the rennet,” Blech said, “or he has to watch as someone else puts it in. These productions are labor-intensive, and the cost of the cheese can be prohibitive.”

The expense of kashrut is a competitive advantage for larger companies that can more easily absorb the costs.

Tnuva, a cooperative Israeli farms founded in 1926 to provide drinking milk to the nascent state, is now the country’s biggest dairy manufacturer. It has invested in a collaboration between its kosher supervisors and its research and development department in order to increase the number and quality of kosher cheeses it can produce.

“The production of kosher ‘chalav Israel’ cheeses is more complex than the production of kosher wines,” said Behiri of Tnuva USA, referring to dairy products that require the supervision of an observant Jew.

Many factories in the United States, for example, produce mostly non-kosher cheese, which means that they must pay to kasher the entire factory. That expense in turn means they must make mostly cheeses that appeal to a broad market and not those that are more challenging to the palate.

Most of the experts we consulted estimated that the world of kosher cheese lags about 10 to 15 years behind that of kosher wine. Yet they were optimistic that a new breed of kosher cheesemakers is beginning to close that gap.

One of them is Brigitte Mizrahi of Anderson International Foods, which produces both European-style kosher cheeses such as brie and American-style flavored kosher cheeses like Colby and Jack. She said that the young, foodie generation of kosher consumers has developed a taste for the wonderful cheeses they may have sampled during trips abroad.

“That age group of 25-35 is exploring different types of world cuisine in their travels — and that includes cheese,” Mizrahi said, noting that Israel, for example, has had a long tradition of excellent kosher cheeses. “These are the kinds of people who buy our product.”

She noted that companies like hers and Delman’s are flooding the market with more and more choices—and that cheese eaters love them.

“You’re starting to see a lot more variety — in terms of country of origin, in terms of milk — not just from cows but also from goats and sheep, and also a lot more interest,” she said. “I see it when we go to any industry event and sample out our cheese; people are trying it more and more.”

Mizrahi said she was confident that in a few years, the selection of kosher cheeses will be nearly indistinguishable from that of conventional cheeses.

In about a decade, Behiri said, virtually every cheese on the market will be available to kosher customers.

The smart money seems to see the potential in kosher cheese. According to the Israeli business publication Globes, a controlling interest in Tnuva is about to be sold to a Chinese company, Bright Food Group, for about 8.5 billion to 9 billion shekels (about $2.5 billion).

“We’re still a few years behind the explosion that’s happened in kosher wine, but we’re getting there,” Mizrahi said.

Helen Chernikoff contributed to this article.

 

Shaved Raw Asparagus Salad with Parmesan Reggianito

asparagus salad

Shaved Raw Asparagus Salad with Parmesan Reggianito

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
• 1 pound medium to thick asparagus, trimmed
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper to taste
• The Cheese Guy’s Parmesan Reggianito shaved, about 1/4 cup (can use a peeler)

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into long, thin strips and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over asparagus and toss gently. Sprinkle salt and pepper and top with Parmesan shavings.

Corn Edam Cheese Sticks

“The Cheese Guy” Edam Cheese Recipe

Edam Cheese Recipe

Edam Cheese Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Makes about 40 sticks

Ingredients:
• 2 cups water
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
• 4 ounces The Cheese Guy’s Edam cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
• 5 oz. defrosted frozen spinach (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 400 F. 

Combine the water and salt in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cornmeal. Return to medium heat, and cook stirring constantly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat, and stir in the Edam cheese and spinach until well blended.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the cornmeal mixture into balls. Then roll the balls into small fat sticks about 3 inches long. Lay sticks out on a large baking sheet coated with oil.
Place in preheated oven and baked for 20 minutes, flip the sticks over and bake for another 20 minutes. 

Serve as is or with ketchup or other tomato based dip.

The Cheese Guy Is Coming To You Spring 2014

Spring is in the air and The Cheese Guy will be participating in a lot of great events this season, where you’ll be able to preview and purchase over 30 different artisan, vegetarian, Kosher cheeses.

On Thursday, May 8, The Cheese Guy will be participating in an art exhibit in Soho, hosted by Laura Faller at the Ward-Nasse Gallery. 178 Prince Street, NY.  The owner of the company, Brent Delman, will personally be showing off his fine selection of cheeses. At the venue, you’ll be able to preview and purchase one of Delman’s favorite cheeses, Edam from Argentina. The cheese is made from cow’s milk and is creamy and full of flavor. RSVP HERE.
If goat cheese doesn’t do it for you, then you’ll have the chance to preview and purchase The Cheese Guy’s wide range of cheddar cheeses. There is everything from chipotle cheddar to New Zealand organic medium cheddar!

This Sunday, May 11, The Cheese Guy will be at the official opening of the the Riverdale Y Festival (Farmer’s Market), which will run until mid-November. There you’ll get the chance to preview or purchase some of The Cheese Guy’s specialties, including goat cheese. Now how good does that sound? The rich, tangy and smooth taste/texture can be spread on appetizers, crumbled on salads, or even pizzas: You’re going to want to try this one. The Riverdale Y Festival (Farmer’s market) is at its usual spot at MS-HS141 on Independence Avenue and 236th Street Bronx NY.

The Cheese Guy, will also be participating every Sunday, at the Astoria Flea and Food at the Kaufman Studios, 35-23 35th Avenue Astoria, NY.

Stay tuned, you will be hearing a lot about The Cheese Guy in the coming weeks.

Why Do We Eat Dairy On Shavuos?

When the Israelites received the Torah on Mt. Sinai 3,330 years ago, little did they know their ancestors would be celebrating Shavuot with a piece of cheesecake.

The custom of eating dairy during this holiday can be attributed to the newly received laws, which included how to slaughter animals and prepare the meat. But, because the revelation occurred on Shabbat, the Israelites did not have enough time to properly “kosher” their cooking pots or slaughter the animals, so the alternative was to eat dairy, which does not need advanced preparation. 

On the other hand, some people say that the custom of eating dairy during Shavuot derives directly from scripture. The dairy symbolizes the “land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8) promised to the Israelites, or that “milk and honey are under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). 

This Shavuot enhance your experience by selecting from over 30 different artisanal Kosher cheeses from The Cheese Guy. 

If you are looking for some great cheese ideas this year, then you have to try The Cheese Guy’s fresh spicy braided mozzarella log, which is marinated in spicy red peppers and extra virgin olive oil. Serve it over toasted bread, use it as a pizza topping or simply as part of a cheese platter.