A Taste of Home

Food Issue 115 May, 2011
Text by Pat Kauba / Photo: Pat Kauba

A Frenchman is instigating a different kind of revolution in Kathmandu. Planning his next move from atop the clouded hills of Kakani, he plans to capture one and all.

It had been a while since I last caught up with Francois Driard, creator of the ever-expanding Himalayan French Cheese empire and one of the main instigators behind Kathmandu’s food revolution. He has not rested on his laurels though. Since November, he has been busy constructing his new farm in Kakani on the Trishuli side—a new place for his cows and elegant cheese to call home. It is a chilly place for Aprill, but that’s what happens when you are in the clouds, and on the north side of a mountain. “Yes it’s colder here, but that’s better for the cows and the cheese, but maybe not for me”, jokes Francois as he oversees the roof being laid on his cheese-cave—bigger than his old one in Tokha.

Francois overseeing work on his hillside farm

It has been difficult he surmises, yet worthwhile. It took a long time to find the right land and enough of it for the expansion. Since Himalayan French Cheese came into life, its popularity and demand has soared, with even five star hotels from India wanting his product. He has also expanded the farm’s products to succulent French sausages and specialty hams. With this demand and potential, he has decided to take the leap, fully investing his future here.

Francois beams like a schoolboy as the farm takes shape. A long cow house, a big cheese making room, a double-chambered curing cave and pigpen are all nearing completion. There is also one smart addition - an underground manure tank for capturing cow waste and turning it into methane gas. This he hopes to bottle into at least seven cylinders of gas a month.

He has also been busy starting two new organic markets in the valley - at the 1905 restaurant in Kantipath on Saturday mornings and at Moksh, Pulchowk on Sundays.  This has helped bring Kathmandu’s specialized food producers together. It also seems the Frenchman’s knowledge about European fine food is in demand. Driard is also a consultant for the new food import outlet Sol, which recently set up in Babar Mahal. The outlet imports quality foods from France, Italy and Spain, such as Beaufort mature cheese, Roquefort blue cheese, Camembert and Brie cheese, various Italian salamis, divine Parma ham, foie gras, olives, chocolates and more. Sol also imports wines, mescals and tequilas. Plans are in the pipeline to expand both the selection and the business with a tapas bar.

The only thing that Francois feels regret about is that due to all the running around for finding land and building the farm, he has not been able to be as fully hands-on with the cheese making as he would like to be; until now. He smiles warmly, thinking about being able to give a hundred percent on it once again. This is after all the reason why he is here; not just for business but for the love of making quality, choice French foods.

Those of us with pride in local cheese can all breathe a sigh of excitement. Nepal’s status world wide, as a quality producer of gourmet cheese is about to grow. And, those of us with European tastes are about to get treated to even better treats.

Viva le Revolution! 

Pat Kauba is a freelance writer and photographer, with a love for heavenly tastes. He can be contacted at patkauba@gmail.com.