‘We do culture and age everything just like dairy cheese is made,’ said Green Goddess founder Morgan Mitchell
It’s whey different from other cheese stores in Guelph.
Located at 447 Elizabeth St., Green Goddess Fromagerie has curdled a reputation for offering creative flavours of artisan vegan cheese, which are made using the same processes as dairy cheese.
“When you go to a cheese boutique, and you see beautiful dairy cheese, we’re trying to replicate that experience,” said Morgan Mitchell, founder of Green Goddess.
All the vegan cheeses made at Green Goddess are cashew-based. In the backroom of their storefront, thousands of pounds of cashews sit in cardboard boxes, waiting to turn into the next batch of dairy-free cheese, cheese balls, dips and cheesecake.
“To come in and be like, ‘I can eat anything in here,’ that’s amazing, and it’s nice when your dairy-free alternative is just as good as the thing you remember,” said Mitchell.
Opening their storefront in 2019, the business has welcomed many residents and customers across Canada and the United States.
“We have a lot of really loyal customers who come at the same time every week, so supportive,” said manager Daniella Gemin, Mitchell’s cousin.
With 23 different flavours of vegan cheese, Mitchell said the Irish cheddar remains a best-seller, which tastes similar to an apple cheddar. Both also list other popular products, including the herb and peppercorn no-goat, vegan halloumi and a vegan cheese called ménage à trois.
“It’s a triple-layered cheese, so it looks really beautiful, so there’s an orange layer that’s like a sharp orange, and then there’s a smokey white flavour and there’s a caramelized onion layer,” Mitchell said about ménage à trois.
Gemin also adds they try to make their cheeses palatable for everyone.
“Whatever we put out, it just seems to go,” said Gemin.
Mitchell began experimenting in creating vegan cheese after a health scare which resulted in her cutting out animal products, specifically dairy. She adds her children also happen to be lactose intolerant.
“As I came out of that decision, I was able to open myself up to the more compassionate reasons that people chose to leave animal products off their plate, and the environmental reason, and hence, this was born,” Mitchell said about the Green Goddess.
With a background in pharmaceuticals, Mitchell began developing dairy-free cheeses for her family.
“It was a lot of fun, but my kids would tell you that my early creations were pretty gross,” said Mitchell, “but I think once we nailed the culturing process, we could do anything.”
After moving to Guelph in 2017, Mitchell launched a side business selling prepared plant-based meals, which included some dairy-free cheese she had made.
“As I added some of the cheese to the meals, that part really took off, and through conventions in the plant-based community, we started selling to plant-based restaurants,” said Mitchell, noting pre-pandemic restaurants were their biggest customers.
Gemin said she began helping Mitchell with her business while still working as a teacher and left the profession to join Mitchell in the business. Mitchell said Gemin is very creative when coming up with new recipes for vegan cheeses and keeps the storefront organized.
“We make such an excellent pair,” Mitchell said about her and Gemin.
When the pandemic hit, the Green Goddess decided to start individually packaging and sell its cheeses for retailers, which is when the business took off, tripling their sales in one year.
“The plant-based sector of the food market is the only one that continues to grow year over year,” said Mitchell, adding the Green Goddess gets customers from Montreal, B.C. and the United States. “That will continue to grow, we’re very confident in that.”
To meet the demand, the Green Goddess has secured new distribution to help manage their provincial orders. The business is also looking at expanding into other provinces, like Quebec and the Maritimes.
“It’s been a natural, organic evolution of something we love,” said Mitchell.
Green Goddess products can be found in 92 retailers in 36 other cities in Ontario and at greengoddessfromagerie.com.