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Talking Fromage with Paris’ First Cheesemaker

Pierre Coulon

Paris is an epicenter of gastronomy. From 1183, when its first food market, Les Halles, opened within the city center, to today—when the city is home to nearly 100 Michelin-starred restaurants—food culture has permeated the French capital. The production of food has historically taken place in other regions of the country, though. Now, Pierre Coulon aims to change that: The cheesemaker is bringing cheese production to Paris!

Coulon, a goat breeder turned cheesemaker, made cheese in the Loire-Atlantique region for six years before arriving in the capital, and despite the fact that Paris is home to far more mongers than makers, the entrepreneur decided to bring his passion to his new home.

“Being able to reconnect the city to production a bit, and maybe offer a window into cheesemaking—that could work,” says Pierre Coulon

La Laiterie de Paris, that opened its doors today, December 15, 2017, is the first shop to produce and age cheese on-site within city limits.

Of course, Coulon won’t be milking animals. Instead, he’ll buy milk from trusted sources: Cow’s milk will be delivered twice a week from a small farm just over an hour away, in Normandy, and goat’s milk will be delivered once a week from Brittany. The former farmer is currently transitioning to organic, while the latter already holds the certification—a deciding factor for Coulon.

Pierre Coulon

“I absolutely wanted organic, but I couldn’t find anyone closer,” he says of his goat’s milk producer. So he’ll be teaming up with colleagues who are sourcing vegetables from the same region to do a joint delivery. That way, “we can be vigilant about our environmental impact,” Coulon says.

Coulon will transform the carefully-selected raw material into 30-40 different kinds of cheese, ranging from goat milk crottins to double- and triple-cream cow’s milk disks.

Of course, their names may be unfamiliar; seeing as Paris is not located in one of France’s AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) regions, which are heavily regulated by geographic boundaries, the words Brie, Saint-Marcellin, and Camembert are off-limits. Nevertheless, Coulon intends to make not only a Brie-style cheese but also a cross between a Reblochon and a Pont-l’Evêque whose rind will be washed with beer from the neighboring Brasserie la Goutte d’Or.

The adventure is just beginning. While at first, he’ll focus purely on production, Coulon is open to the possibility of someday allowing interested Parisians (or visitors to Paris) to try their hands at cheesemaking on-site. The recent vibrancy and interest in food in the capital has motivated the maker to dream big.

“I think there’s a great energy (in Paris) around food,” he says. “That’s why I said to myself, why not make cheese here?”

Images courtesy: La Laiterie de Paris

Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco has been living, writing, and eating cheese in Paris since 2007. In her own words, she likes making friends with folks who are passionate about what they love, whether that’s fantastic cheese, 17th century architecture, or obscure electro-pop.

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