Interview with Imber from Vtopian Artisan Cheeses
Written by Leigh-Chantelle
Created Friday, 29 August 2014
There's a new vegan cheese on the scene - and it's Vtopian Artisan Cheeses - hand-crafted, cultured cashew cheeses from Eugene, Oregon, in North America.
My good friend (since MySpace days!) Imber took some time out to answer some of my questions recently.
Why did you decide to create a new vegan cheese?
I was on the search for delicious cheeses for a vegan cheese platter and there weren't many around, so I decided to make some for a potluck I was having. The owner of vegan cafe, Cornbread Cafe (where I worked) was at the potluck, enjoyed the cheeses, and asked me to make them for the cafe. The customers enjoyed the cheeses and encouraged me to start selling them! Since then I have been developing a wide range of vegan cheeses.
What different types do you sell?
Aged White Cheddar, Spicy Cheddar, Raspberry Brie, Cranberry Brie, Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brie, Peppercorn Brie, Sundried Tomato Brie, Mediterranean Feta, Mapled Seitan Cheeseball, Creamy Basil Borealis and Roasted Red Pepper Surrise. We also have four new wedges coming out soon: Caramelized Onion Camembert, Camembert, Chive and Dill and Reserve Sharp Cheddar.
How long did the process take from conception to selling and can you explain your process?
It took around 6 weeks to get labels, logos and license, etc. It is quite a process working out how we wanted the labels and logos to look. We also had to work with the Department of Agriculture on legal compliance. We were very lucky that we had help from an awesome graphic artist, Lloyd Kern, who has been doing all of the logos and labels.
Would you encourage other people to have a vegan business and why?
Definitely! The world needs more vegan businesses. Every new vegan business helps the animals.
What do you hope to achieve with the release of your cheese?
I hope to show people that vegan cheese can be delicious.
What has the response been like so far?
The response has been amazing, country-wide. We recently launched our Kickstarter and were funded 150%. We estimate that locally, 80% of our customers are not vegan.
Where can people purchase your cheese?
Our cheeses are available from our website plus the following online and retail stores:
- Cappella Market
- Food Fight! Grocery
- Food Front Cooperative Grocery
- The Kiva Grocery
- People's Food Co-op
- Portobello Restaurant
- Republic of V
- Sundance Natural Foods
- Vegan Essentials
- Vegan Haven
Vegan husband-and-wife team: Mark who is the newly-appointed General Manager, with cheesemaker Imber:
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