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Melbourne’s Best Cheesemonger – Anthony Femia

Melbourne’s best cheesemonger, Anthony Femia talks a bit about his stall, his passion, and how it all began.

Melbourne’s best cheesemonger transcript:

Maker & Monger, the name, it’s an interesting name, it comes from the combination of a cheese maker and a cheesemonger so when our brand new shop opens up, that’s what it will encompass. It’s our mission statement; making cheese and mongering cheese and maturing cheese.

That name is a very broad name that encapsulates everything about cheese that we want to offer to Melbourne and Australia.

My love affair of cheese began pretty much when I was a young kid, taking sandwiches to school with blue castello and tomato, mortadello and brie, so while the kids would laugh at me, I’d have a beautiful sandwich.

Cheese for me, I guess, the seriousness or the passion for it began when I left school.   I went to University and studied Applied Finance at Macquarie Uni and got a part time job with my mum at a local food stall, up in Sydney.

I got put in charge of the cheese council one day and haven’t looked back. I fell in love with the stories, the history, the flavour and I wanted to educate people on what I experience.

I wanted to pick something traditional with cheese so I chose Raclette to start with at Maker & Monger.   Maker & Monger is not just a grilled cheese bar, it’s essentially a world cheese bar.

With the weather the way it was in Melbourne, being quite cold, Raclette or fondue would be perfect selections, so we ran with with Raclette.  For spring and summer we’ve brought on the ruben, and will be bringing on a Mediteranean/Moroccan influence for the heart of summer.

My favourite cheese, it’s a question we get asked every day. Most people respond with “oh, they’re all my children, how do you pick one?” But for me it’s the Swiss Alpine cheeses.

My career highlights? Wow. There’s two career highlights. The first one was winning a Churchill fellowship to go study the maturation of cheese- that was amazing- to be one of I think, 100 every year! It was the 50th year anniversary of the Churchill fellowship – so that was a real honour to be able to change the industry for the better.

My second career highlight, probably also from that trip working for Neil’s Yard Dairy in London that’s always been for me, the holy grail of cheese done in its purest way. So to be able to spend three weeks with the guys and learn for the best, that was awesome- that was the signature moment of my career.

Look out for Maker & Monger next year for a brand new cheese shop with a maturation facility and a little bit of making of fresh cheeses. We’re excited to be in Harvest Hall and cannot wait to start next year.

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