Skip to main content
Mausam Jotwani making cheese

For alumna Mausam Jotwani (MSc HRM, 2011),  travels in Europe – including a year at Birmingham Business School - kicked off an obsession with cheese that lead to a flourishing new businesses.

Eleftheria Cheese, Mausam’s Mubai-based micro creamery has already been mentioned in the pages of Vogue: India, bringing her ever closer to fulfilling her ambition of putting India on the world artisan cheese map. Your e-Network finds out more.

How did your passion for cheese develop, and at what point did you consider making it a career?

In the nineties, artisan cheese was not so easily available in India. We grew up thinking processed cheese was the only kind of cheese there was. I remember trying real cheese for the first time as a teenager in Germany, while doing a summer course at a university, and I absolutely loved it. 

Over the years I developed a strong liking for it and would buy and eat copious amounts of cheese during my travels to Europe. While in Birmingham, my uni fridge was always stocked with extra sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella and a good blue. I'd travel to London every other weekend to visit my friends and would buy my favourite clothbound cheddar on the way back. 

After my MSc, I joined Capgemini in Mumbai, working as an HR consultant during the week and making cheese as a hobby over the weekend. I tried my hand at cheesemaking primarily as I missed eating and cooking with good cheese. That hobby slowly turned into an obsession and my home kitchen turned into a mini creamery over the weekends. The joy of creating something from scratch and seeing my friends and family enjoy my dairy experimentations was unparalleled. I always wanted to start something of my own and I think after about two years and countless hours of home cheesemaking, I decided to pursue it as a career. 

How did you get started?

I pretty much taught myself how to do it by reading a lot of cheesemaking and cheese science books and working with imported cheese cultures, rennet and moulds (which were not readily available in smaller quantities for a hobbyist in India). I eventually got in touch with my Mentor, who is one of the first few artisan cheesemakers of India. I was fortunate that he agreed to help me throughout the process of honing my skills and starting my micro creamery. 

Is artisan cheese now common in India, or are you helping to spearhead a new movement there?

India is one of the largest producers of milk in the world and we do eat a lot of milk products like yogurt, milk based desserts, paneer and ice creams on a regular basis, but artisan cheese is not a part of an average Indian's diet.

It is gaining popularity in the metro cities but is still not common or easily available across the country. I am one of the few female artisan cheesemakers in my country and one of the four artisan cheesemakers that my city Mumbai has at the moment. 

Could you talk us through what a typical day looks like? What do you spend your time doing?

My day at the creamery begins at 7 am when we clean and sterilize our cheese vat and other equipment. Then we start cheese production for the day; ripening and setting the milk, cutting the cheese curds, draining, stretching and moulding, all done by hand. All of this usually takes around eight or nine hours.

eleftheria-cheese-advert

Around noon, I pop into my office to answer my emails and finish my admin work and also grab a quick bite. The freshly made cheese is packed and ready for dispatch at around 5-5.30 pm and then we begin an hour long cleaning process. Yes, cheesemaking is 60% cleaning and scrubbing!

Have you used the skills you learnt while at Birmingham Business School in the set up and running of your own company?

A year at the Birmingham Business School was instrumental in teaching me a lot of skills that helped me in setting up my company, like hiring and managing my staff, negotiating with new vendors, building a clientele and above all managing my time efficiently. 

What are your plans for the future?

We make European inspired cheeses at the moment, but in the near future I want to make an Indian inspired cheese that truly reflects our character.  It’s my dream to make cheese that would contribute towards putting India on the world artisan cheese map.