Follow Your Goat Cheese Dreams: Tasia Malakasis
This is not your regular feta story from your father’s azure isle. This is the story of a dynamic Hellenic entreprenuer, Tasia Malakasis, a Greek American girl, who has hit it big with goat cheese. President and head of Belle Chevre, a cheese creamery located in her home state of Alabama, Tasia chased her dreams of running a successful business and making a fine goat cheese as well. She is a personification of following your bliss while eating your goat cheese too.
Always a foodie on the lookout for new tastes, Tasia was walking through the cheese aisles of Dean and Deluca in Tribeca, when she met her destiny–goat cheese, not Greek goat cheese but the French kind. Perhaps it was the Greek in her goading her to the goat, but after tasting that cheese she was stunned to learn that the producer, Belle Chevre, was located in her home state, Alabama. In fact, it was produced just a short way up from where she had grown up. After more than a decade on the professional fast track, Malakasis switched gears by enrolling at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Then, she contacted then owner and founder of the cheese company, Liz Parnell, and asked her to teach her the art of fine cheese making. She returned to Alabama to follow her true passion for food to become an apprentice cheesemaker and, acquired Belle Chevre six months later in 2007.
Tasia Malakasis is now owner and president of Belle Chevre, the award-winning cheese producer located in Elkmont, Alabama. Before acquiring Belle Chevre, Malakasis served as vice president of global product management and marketing for high-tech software startup PointRoll, where she was responsible for developing new products and marketing them globally. Malakasis now provides the strategic vision, leadership, and creativity required to ensure the 20-year-old company continues to evolve as one of the country’s most acclaimed artisan creameries.
Although making goat cheese may seem worlds away from the fast-paced life of marketing high-tech software, the similarity is in Malakasis’ passion for
what she does. Belle Chevre embodies her love of handcrafted, artisan food and the Southern region where it is produced. Since taking the lead at Belle Chevre in 2007, Malakasis has developed several new product lines and revamped the brand with a new graphic identity and marketing program.The company is purposefully small, and each chevre is hand made by its passionate cheese makers. The result is an artisan cheese with a mild and distinct taste and texture that reflects the care with which it was made.
Belle Chevre has, to date, garnered over 50 national awards from American Cheese Society and other famed institutions and has landed Belle Chevre cheeses in some of the finest cheese retailers in the country including The Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills and Dean & Deluca in New York City.
Steven Jenkins, one of the world’s foremost authorities on cheeses of the world says “Alabama’s FBC cheeses and fromage blanc taste as fine as the best of the Loire Valley, Perigord and Provence, and that’s a mouthful.” He also has declared Belle Chevre an “American Treasure” ! Belle Chèvre also has be
en featured in many top culinary books and magazines and acclaimed by chefs and cheese lovers the world over. As stated on her webiste, tasiastable.com, Organic Gardening magazine calls Tasia “the goat cheese guru.” She provides the strategic vision, leadership, and creativity required to ensure that the 20-year-old company continues to evolve as one of the country’s most acclaimed artisan creameries.
Tasia Malakasis credits the summers she spent in sunny Greece with her father for her passion for food. She has recently published a cookbook called Tasia’s
Table that includes recipes that mix her Southern and Greek heritage.
As she states in her website:
“Tasia continues her work as a cheesemaker while teaching cooking classes and leading culinary journeys to Greece. Her first cookbook, Tasia’s Table, out in September 2012, celebrates her favorite cheese, Southern recipes and Greek cuisine. Heralded by Southern Living, it marks the culmination of the meals she enjoyed with her Southern grandmother, her Greek family, and hundreds of Sunday Suppers spent around a big table with great food and even better friends.”
Here’s Tasia teaching us about the benefits of goat cheese: