Mozzarella in South Africa

The story of Davide, Fabio and Cosimo, resourceful Apulians with a dream come true

04-07-2013
Mozzarella, burrata, nodini and sfoglie di moz

Mozzarella, burrata, nodini and sfoglie di mozzarella. This is Davide Ostuni and Fabio Fatelli’s core business. They are Puglia Cheese’s managers, a small dairy laboratory in Cape Town’s industrial area, info@pugliacheese.co.za and +27.(0)21.9005900. In just a few years they managed to collect lots of awards in South Africa

For once we’re not talking about restaurants but about an artisanal product, namely mozzarella. Two men from Apulia moved to Cape Town three and a half years ago and opened a dairy laboratory. In fact, a mozzarella and burrata laboratory. The have both worked in the restaurant scene: Davide, is a larger than life character who ran various restaurants in London while Fabio, who started off as a labour consultant, owned a restaurant in Brindisi for many years. Then came the desire to change, and it brought them here.

Making mozzarella in South Africa is quite a challenge. These two resourceful “young” men in their fifties even imported a master cheese maker from Apulia, Cosimo, who was essential in the creation of these products. Not that there weren’t any firms, over here, producing Italian style cheese, including mozzarella, but the quality was much different. Therefore they filled a market niche for which South Africa had space. Things were not easy at first. Even though in this country there are huge pastures and thus one would think the situation would be similar to the Italian hill country, in fact the quality and the yield of milk are much different because of the different forage produced in this land.

Davide, Cosimo and Fabio (foto www.foodwithastory.co.za)

Davide, Cosimo and Fabio (foto www.foodwithastory.co.za)

Puglia Cheese initially opened a little workshop in an industrial area near Cape Town. It took them a while to fine-tune their main products: mozzarella, burrata, nodini and sfoglia di mozzarella. Today the quality is very similar to a good Italian mozzarella. Meanwhile, as the turnover grew, the firm moved to a real dairy factory inside a wine estate. Here is where other types of dairy experiments began: provola, ricotta, aged ricotta with pepper, just to name a few. Even these experiments are developing with success, with a little finalizing here and there.

Since 2011 the firm has won awards for their excellent products and in 2012 they received an illustrious prize, namely the South African Champions . Puglia Cheese is now the largest supplier of mozzarella and burrata in Cape Town and beyond. On top of very many Italian and other restaurants, it supplies quite a few supermarkets. The distribution chain is spreading day by day and the same goes for their project of growing further, though without ever losing the artisanal character of their products.

Davide and Fabio have worked incredibly hard to create this business, which not only has contributed a lot to improving the South African dairy sector, but is also given credit to the skills of Italians all over the world. In a moment such as this, when in Italy people are discussing whether our food is good or not, I believe a story such as that of Puglia Cheese demonstrates that we are good indeed and that we need to support our projects and our skills with a positive and productive attitude, in our own country as well as in the world. Just like France has taught us to do. When will we finally learn to give ourselves the value we deserve?


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The food world in and near Cape Town told by Giovanna Sartor