Kelowna’s newest vegan shop is ready to open next month.
Maple & Manchester, located at 438 Lawrence Avenue, is a one-of-a-kind shop: owners Natasha Davis and Damian Chalmers call their store a ‘fauxmagerie’, a play on the French word fromagerie meaning cheese shop.
But, don’t let the name deceive you because it doesn’t sell fake cheese.
Davis and Chalmers use organic cashews, culturing and fermenting it just like dairy to make their vegan cheeses. So how do they do it?
Davis and Chalmers soak the cashews first, then crush them, in essence making cashew milk. Then they use a vegan lab culture to start the culturing and ageing process.
“Cashews can be cultured in a very similar way to how you would culture a dairy cheese,” Davis said.
“So we use a vegan lab culture and it’s just a fermentation process (after that). We let it sit in the culture, give a little bit of heat and then at that point, we’ll put it into a mould, add flavouring and let it culture longer.”
The result is a cheese wheel not unlike charcuterie cheeses available in grocery stores, they said. The process takes about two to three days but they said the cheese can be left to age for much longer if you want a sharper quality to it.
Currently, the flavours available include the Manchester sharp cheddar, balsamic glaze, black truffle, caramelized onion camembert, pepper jelly brie and bleu cheese.
Before they got to making cheese, the duo actually had the idea to start up a vegan food truck well before the pandemic hit. Chalmers said with the number of vegans living in Kelowna, as well as people with dietary restrictions, he and Davis always wanted to offer up plant-based food for them. The food truck idea didn’t quite make it, but one time, Davis decided to bring vegan cheese she made to a family dinner. Everyone loved it and it seemed like a sign.
Then, Davis said, she had another sign.
“On Boxing Day last December, I had a dream that we opened a vegan cheese shop called Maple & Manchester. I told Damian about it and he said it was a great idea,” she said.
“The name is a little bit of him and a little bit of me. Damian is from Manchester (England) and I’m Canadian so it works out.”
After months of setbacks as the approval process through the City of Kelowna and Interior Health were slowed down by the pandemic, then renovations and a heatwave, Maple & Manchester is finally ready to serve customers on Sept. 1.
The shop will offer vegan cheeses, cakes, pasta and pizza sauces, as well as other plant-based food items.
Davis and Chalmers said they want everyone who walks in through their doors to feel warm and welcomed.
“We want people to walk out the door thinking ‘you know what? Vegan cheese isn’t that bad,” he said.
“We want people to walk in through the door and be able to grab everything they need for a plant-based charcuterie board,” Davis said.