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Valerie was born and raised in Miami, Fla. In 1980 Valerie spent six months living in Madrid with her aunt and uncle. While living in Madrid Valerie developed a love for the daily market experience each morning she visited her local cheesemonger, baker, meat purveyor and the various fruit and vegetable stands. After this trip, Valerie moved to the Boston area to pursue a college education and decided that she wanted to create a European style shopping market back in Miami after she finished college. Instead, while attending Boston College, she discovered Formaggio Kitchen and met her future husband, Ihsan. To hone her skills in the kitchen, Valerie worked at the well-known Chez Nous in Cambridge and for the catering company Currier and Chives before returning to Formaggio Kitchen. Since then Ihsan and Valerie have worked together to share the "market experience" that inspired their mutual love of food with neighborhoods and communities surrounding their stores.

Reporting from Bra, Italy: 2013, The Year of American Cheese


A picture perfect moment: new world cheese in very much an old world setting. When Ihsan and I first visited Bra, the show was very much for Italian and European cheeses. How times have changed! We are so proud to see our friends from the United States showing off how far we have come as […]

Reporting from Bra, Italy: Marcel Petite Comte


The first time that we visited the Fort Saint Antoine and tasted Comte was in 1999. Jason Hinds introduced Ihsan and I to Claude and Phillipe- who we have worked with since, via another friend Pascal Trotte from Paris. Tasting with Claude and Phillipe was a very intimidating first experience, and we certainly had to […]

Reporting from Bra, Italy: Looking Forward, Looking Back


Every 2 years, Slow Food organizes “Cheese,” a festival dedicated to and named in honor of the preserved preserved milk product. Tucked away in mountains of Piedmont, Bra is a small medieval town that is transformed into a sea of white tents with cheesemongers, cheese-lovers, cheese makers, farmers, food tourists, townspeople all jostling to taste, […]