Meet the New 'Big Cheese' of Lake Erie Creamery

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Since early January, Lake Erie Creamery has been under the new management of Brian Moran. The award-winning Cleveland-based artisinal creamery was started in 2006 by the husband and wife team of Jerry Onken and Mariann Janosko, who will stay on in advisory roles, says Moran.

Moran, a fine gardener by trade, was a fixture for many years at the West Side Market's City Roast Coffee, where he worked each winter. To learn the cheese biz, Moran worked alongside Lake Erie's founders. Also, long-time staffers are staying on.

"I was a gardener for a long time, and I always enjoyed the challenges of working with living organisms," explains Moran. "But I'm not getting any younger and the job was getting a little old. What I liked about this business is that I can still be creative. And like plants, cheese is alive and constantly evolving."

In addition to award-winning fresh goat cheeses like chevre, feta and Blomma, Lake Erie has recently begun making hard goat- and cow-milk cheeses called Caerphilly and Tomme. Most of the cheese is sold wholesale to markets and restaurants, but retail customers can purchase it locally at The Cheese Shop at the West Side Market.

Moran says that while it's status quo for now, he does have plans to evolve the business.

"I think it's really important to continue what Mariann and Jerry started, but at the same time be able to put my own stamp on it," he says. "In five years I hope to be in a bigger facility. I don't plan on ever becoming a huge company. But I would really like to put Lake Erie Creamery on the map. And from what I've been told, to do that as a small artisan cheesemaker, you've got to be able to make at least one great hard cheese."

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