In the pursuit for love and happiness, and in this case, cheese, Dexter Lim quits his 12-year old career as a property investor and delves into the art of cheesemaking.
Founder of D’ Artisan Handmade Cheese, 40-year old Lim produces cheese out of his double-storey Desa Park City home studio. On a regular basis, Lim makes 49 types of cheeses – from Gorgonzola, Gouda, Mozzarella, Feta and more (some that we don’t even know how to pronounce)
These wheel of cheeses have different types of textures, colours and sizes, all of which Lim made from scratch by hand. Like a true Malaysian, all of the cheeses are wrapped delicately in banana leaves.
He said that before setting up his business, the cheeses made were for his personal consumption. He realised that commercial cheeses found in supermarkets had around 15 to 20 ingredients, like additives and preservatives for a longer shelf-life.
“I have a five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, so that’s not something I want my family to be consuming,” he told FMT in an interview.
Lim uses natural starter cultures instead of commercial ones made by laboratories and sticks to original recipes like organic cow’s milk, Himalayan salt, vegetable rennet and vinegar.
“It’s pretty much like how cheese was made 10,000 years ago and by making it at home, I know exactly what goes into it,” Lim says.
Lim admits that he underestimated just how difficult cheesemaking was. The toughest cheese that took many rounds of trial and error was burrata, and his first attempt at making mozzarella turned into a mess that resembled ricotta.
For the love of cheese, he kept going and his fresh mozzarella is now in high-demand, with one Italian customer giving it a two thumbs up.
“He said the mozzarella I made was as good as his mother’s. Imagine that, an Italian comparing my fresh mozzarella cheese to what his mother made,” said Lim.
Apart from the familiar cheeses most of us know, Lim also sells cashew-based vegan cheeses, as well as a crazier cheese made from jengkol, or jering, a stinky vegetable that’s more pungent than petai!
“We are currently thinking on how to expand and we are hoping to get a place, like a production facility after the pandemic situation stabilises,” says Natalie, who handles the marketing and social media for the business. She also adds that for now, they’re focusing on educating consumers on the different types of cheeses available.
If you’re looking to experience a new realm of cheesiness, D’ Artisan Handmade Cheese has its own cheese-of-the-month club. How it works is that Lim handpicks four to six of his finest quality, perfectly-aged, unique and rare artisanal cheeses as highlights of the month.