Interview with our supplier: Silvana Cugusi from Caseificio Cugusi
What’s your name and your role in the company?
Silvana Cugusi. Owner.
How would you briefly describe Caseificio Cugusi to our customers?
Our company is based on attention to details and cure. I live it so so deep within me and everything I do is made it with passion. True passion. I work in this company since almost 40 years. At the beginning, when the company was managed by her parents, she was supporting them with the sales of the cheese.
Her mother was deeply passionate about their work and she passed it to Silvana. Silvana remembers that even after dinner her mum would come down and check if everything was alright.
Everything is inside Silvana and that is the engine that moves her. Almost 100% of their milk comes from their family. Their family focuses also on sheeps grazing.
Sheep is a country animal and, during spring, they also eat sweet herbs. Their sheeps are from Sardinia and they can also eat blackberry bush. No chemical stuff are used to cultivate. Only the stool from the sheeps and this makes the land very healthy. During winter, they eat hay. Silvana follows the whole supply chain.
When her parents started the business, they produced only 3 types of cheese and in smaller scale of course. Then the company evolved with her and her sister and the company - and also the type of cheeses - grew.
They took back some old aging methods. Pecorino was initially prepared by families for their own needs and they use to keep it under ashes, hay or walnut leaves to better preserve it and to protect it from insects.
They also added the picnic area and the B&B.
How does Cugusi contribute to the development of the territory and the local economy?
All their work involves their families and all employees come from the local area. Her brothers provide with the milk because they own the sheeps and others do the same with hay. Since 60 years, when the caseificio was born, they decided to work only with milk coming from their area, Val d'Orcia. Even if its price was and is more expensive, Silvana always wanted to choose for it and to support the local shepherds ( and their families).
This industry is suffering a big crisis also because the new generation does not want to invest in it. She prefers to pay more for the local milk. Until there will be shepherds coming from this area, there'll be the Pecorino di Pienza.
What makes your product special?
Milk, small scale quantities, traditional methods used. With rennet and milk you can make up to 3000 cheese types. But the how and the technique makes the difference. And the attention to every single detail.
Their aging process is also quite unique. For example their award winning Gran Riserva is manually pressed and they are the only ones who still do it. Their passion and commitment is amazing.
Moreover, dairymen and other employees mainly work with them since very long time. Silvana loves to involve everyone and also to hold them accountable for what they do. She trusts them as part of the family.
She loves also the women working there: they have a special power and they drive 'their machine' with passion!
How do you select your raw material?
All their sheeps are from Sardinian race. Silvana has Sardinian roots. All dairymen families in Val d'Orcia are from Sardinia. All of them. In the 50-60' the Val d'Orcia countryside area has been abandoned. Everyone just wanted to have a 'secure' job and work in factories. All the lands became cheaper because no one wanted to work them. But that part of Italy was perfect for grazing.
Silvana's father - in Sardinia - was studying agriculture during the evening. He had 9 kids to take care of. His teacher told him about this possibility in val D'Orcia. So his father decided to take family and sheeps and head to Tuscany.
Sardinian sheeps were perfect for milk while the ones in Tuscany were famous for their meat.The Sardinian one is a mix with goat so that's why his milk is so special.
Sardinian sheeps and dairymen, Tuscany grazing: this is the secret for the Pecorino di Pienza.
How do you think Chiara’s Food matches with what Cugusi does?
Because we both love good products and we love to work with passion. And we let passion drive us. We have this inclination. We both work with high quality products and producers. From good people to good people.
Do you have any comment for me?
No, I just trust you.