Meet the cheese enthusiast Bruno Cabral, who launched mestrequeijeiro.com.br to sell a curated selection of Brazilian artisanal cheese.
How did Mestre Queijeiro start?
In 2010, I was living in Barcelona and decided to come back to Brazil to learn about artisanal cheeses. Cheese is my true passion. I travelled 6,000 km through Minas Gerais, visiting farms, talking to producers, recording production methods and studying laws regarding the sale of unpasteurised-milk cheese.
That was when I decided to create Mestre Queijeiro. I noticed that the law was hindering the sale of traditional and artisanal Brazilian cheeses and, worse still, Brazilians knew a lot about imported cheeses, but nothing about Brazilian cheese. I had to do something to change that.
What are you hoping to achieve with Mestre Queijeiro?
The most important job for me is to advocate for the artisanal producer. They’re the keepers of a secular tradition; they’re part of Brazil’s history. I want to urge them to keep believing in themselves and their product. Getting the consumers interested in, and talking about, these cheeses, and thereby making sure that markets sell them, is also important. And I want to try to and change the obsolete, antiquated 1952 law that governs products of animal origin, which places no value on culture and tradition.
Which cheeses do you sell?
I only sell Brazilian artisanal cheese, from Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Ceará, and sometimes from Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. The most famous one is the artisanal cheese from the Serra da Canastra, in Minas Gerais. These days, Mineiro cheese is the best-known and most consumed cheese in Brazil. There are 30,000 families living off the cheese produced there, and the state represents one fifth of milk produced in Brazil.
Do you promote rarer cheeses?
Across the country we have more than ten kinds of traditional cheeses being produced for more than a century. I am currently gathering forces to defend the queijo colonial from the west of Santa Catarina and Paraná. This cheese was traditionally produced by immigrants from Italy or Germany who brought the recipes with them. In 1985, there were 41,404 producers and in 2006, there were 3,389. These numbers are alarming. We have to defend this cheese. If not, it will be history before too long.
- Order on mestrequeijeiro.com.br, via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 96411 6196. Delivery charges vary.
When Bruno Cabral is not hunting down cheeses, he’s the chef at the Basque tapas bar Donostia, where he also hosts cheese tastings for R$70-$80 per tasting (doesn’t include drinks). Please contact the restaurant for dates and prices via 3034 0996 or email@example.com.
The next date is on 21 August 2013, with three local cheeses – an ash-coated goat’s cheese, a Mineiro raclette and a São Paulo blue goat’s cheese – as well as Spanish cheeses and hams.