Clara Diez opened the doors of her shop Formaje to us. Meeting with an artisanal cheese activist.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
My name is Clara and I am 29 years old. I usually introduce myself (joking) as a cheese activist, because since I was 21 and I got to discover the world of artisan cheese, I have dedicated all my professional activity to highlighting its value and promoting its culture, consumption and appreciation. During all these years, I have been working hand in hand with artisan producers, I have internalized their discourse, understood their needs and known the raw material, its nuances, and the cultural richness of the resulting product: cheese. At university I studied Audiovisual Communication, nothing related to food, therefore my encounter with cheese happened by pure chance, but I understood that behind the product was an absolutely rich universe in discourse, philosophy, and defense of territories, raw material and food crafts.
Can you tell us about your cheese shop Formaje? How did this project get started?
FORMAJE was founded by me and Adrián (my husband) to promote the excellence of artisan cheese and foster its appreciation through the creation of spaces that enable people to discover the exciting cultural value of artisan cheese-making and facilitate access to its consumption. After having worked in the industry of artisanal cheese for a while, we felt that we needed to create a new platform that will be more focused on talking about excellence as the only way to ensure the survival of the artisan industry. We work to bring together a selection of excellent cheeses that champion good practice in artisan cheese-making, understanding excellence to mean the constant improvement in the factors that directly impact the final result: the quality of the cheese, the livestock feeding methods, the handling and care in the production processes and the commitment to generate a positive impact on the production environment. Finally, the defence of raw milk as the main source of adding value and character in the cheese. “Cheese as a bond”. FORMAJE's aim is to create a community around cheese where people seek answers to universal concerns and share experiences, creating a space where, beyond the experience of consumption, an environment of conversation and well-being is encouraged, where your interests as a consumer and as a human being can be satisfied.
What were your main inspirations and motivations?
My main motivation is to see the artisan cheese sector evolve and grow and to feel part of that change. Inspiration comes from everything that surrounds me; I learn from my team, from the artisans I work with, but also I learn from other projects, from how other people try to make grow their own projects. I see Formaje as the result of my personal learning process, constantly changing and evolving, and adapting.
What part of the project interested you most?
The product itself: find new producers, understand their stories and their backgrounds. Discover excellent cheeses to present to my community in Formaje.
Can you describe what a typical day is like for you (your habits, etc.)?
I wake up, I drink coffee (coffee is very important to me), I sit in the living room and I open my computer: I check my google calendar and I think about how my day is going to be. I usually spend a little time in Formaje (at the shop) every day and then I usually have many meetings, both with my team and with people from other projects: collaborators, customers...
What cheese platter would you recommend for this summer?
A platter filled with fresh, acid cheeses! the best for summer: mozzarellas, burrata, butter, lactic ones... nothing too fatty.
Can you tell us about your meeting with Sessùn?
Always warm! Sessun feels like family so they are always welcome at home! It’s a brand with the ability to become part of your day by day, to blend with your aspirations, and I really like that.
If Sessùn were a cheese, which one would it be?
A French one, for sure !! Maybe Beaufort: a seasonal cheese, respectful with the natural processes of animals and nature. Sweet, soft, melty.
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