Kandice Marchant began making cheese as a hobbyist, working her way through a beginner’s cheesemaking book. While she enjoyed the results – straightforward creations like ricotta, mozzarella and cottage cheese – she had loftier tastes and ambitions.
“What I really loved were the European-style soft, bloomy, washed-rind cheeses – and those were the ones I really wanted to try my hand at making,” she says.
Marchant combined her science background (she’s a trained pathologist and possesses a doctorate in polymer science) with practical training in Vermont to develop her skills and perfect her craft.
“It’s a lot about attention to detail and consistency, but also creativity and looking for something new and different,” she explains.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago, when she was connected with an Amish dairy that produces high-fat Guernsey milk, that her avocation became a vocation.
“That’s what launched my idea about what I wanted to do with this business,” Marchant states. “The most important thing is using the best possible ingredients that you possibly can; it makes a huge difference.”
Currently, Marchant produces her cheese onsite at the Stark County dairy and ages it in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room at Ohio City Provisions in Ohio City. Her rich, creamy and yellow-hued cheeses are sold at select retail outlets, restaurants like L’ Albatros and at farmers’ markets. But beginning today, they will also be available at Marchant Manor Cheese
(2211 Lee Rd.), Marchant’s brand new retail shop.
For the past year and a half, Marchant has been converting a former Ohio Savings Bank property on a bright corner on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. As a former customer of that bank, I can state with certainty that the transformation is remarkable. There are pale lemon walls, refrigerated space for cheeses, and a window that offers peeks into the spotless cheesemaking room.
Marchant is opening up the shop for just two days this week and next as “a quick soft opening to give people a taste of the shop,” she says. The socially-distanced soft opening begins today, December 23, at 11 a.m. and continues Thursday and again next week (December 30-31), or until the cheese runs out. Marchant will then take a month off to regroup and restock and reopen in early February.
Products like Beachy Head Goat, Lapworth Porcini, Henley and Elmstead Ash will be joined by cheeses from other domestic producers along with charcuterie, pickles, olives, jams, breads and crackers. Ancillary products like cheese boards, knives and cheesemaking supplies also will find their way to the shop. Down the road, Marchant hopes to secure a liquor license so that people on their way to or from the Cedar Lee Theatre might drop by for cheese and charcuterie board paired with a bottle of wine.
The next big step is to move the full production of her cheeses out of the country and into Cleveland Heights, where customers can watch the process and taste the results.
“That was always a dream of mine, to have a physical presence,” she explains. “From a culinary point of view, having people understand where the food comes from is so important. I really wanted to bring cheesemaking to the people. Our new tagline ‘Makers, Mongers and Mentors’ is my tripartite mission.”
The third part of that mission refers to a series of cheesemaking classes that Marchant intends to roll out at some point. And for her, there is no better place in town to do it all than her spot on Lee Road.
“The reason I liked this area particularly was that Lee Road is becoming a maker-culinary street,” she says. “You’ve got a wine maker, two breweries, a chocolate maker, bread maker and now you’ve got a cheese maker. To me it seemed like a really good synergy.”
Repurposed safety deposit box doors