It all started
with passion, vision and opportunity...
a young Umberto Somma arrived in Australia with no
more than a few shillings in his pocket, a 90 litre
copper pan and a dream. The young man from a small
Italian village of Pimonte in Napoli, set about to
introduce Australia to his traditional Italian fresh
specialty cheeses. Although Umberto succeeded in giving
Australia traditional Italian culinary cheese delights,
the road to success was never easy.
was in the late 1950s only beginning to experience
broader international cuisine. Alone, with no family
or friends in Sydney, next to no money and unable
to speak English, Umberto was determined to succeed.
worked other jobs to save up enough money to buy milk
and rent a shed next to Hawkesbury River near Windsor
in New South Wales. He would start at 7.00 am in the
morning making Mozzarella and Ricotta shaping them
by hand and floating them in fresh water in milk cans
which a local farmer would help him deliver to the
train station. They would travel to Sydneys
Surry Hills where Umberto would wait for the local
migrant working population to come home from work
so he could sell door to door until 11.00 pm at night.
Unfortunately, many doors often slammed fast in his
face during this time. After returning back to Windsor
by train at night, Umberto slept for five hours and
was up again at 7.00 am making his cheeses.
his business, the Department of Agriculture caught
up with Umberto Somma and closed his operation down
due to the primitive conditions under
which he worked. Regrettably, he often dumped the
excess whey into the river to avoid being fined and
he often used a 44 gallon drum and his trusty 90 litre
copper pot to boil the milk for his cheese making.
Umberto recognised the need to change his practices.
He had to have a proper premises and Umberto had to
be registered as a Cheesemaker. The process to correct
his operation and abide by the Department of Agriculture
guidelines took a frustratingly long time but he never
gave up on what he truly believed in and loved doing
he saved up enough money, sorting out his legal issues
and bought the modest factory in Marrickville, New
South Wales and officially began trading as Paesanella
Cheese Manufacturers. From this factory, Umberto produced
his wonderful fresh cheeses like Mascarpone, Ricotta,
Bocconcini, Stracchino, Malca and Mozzarella cheeses
that all leading Sydney delicatessens and restaurants
were clamouring for.
Umberto married Teresa who worked alongside him to
produce the wonderfully fresh Neapolitan style cheeses.
With Teresa a new generation would emerge to learn
the ways of cheese making that had been passed down
to Umberto four generations before him.
Umberto died in 1988. Umbertos is a rags
to riches story. He died a wealthy man. But
it was not for the money he worked. I love my
work, he once said. I love making my cheeses.
It was said with his inimitable gusto. In the end
it was the passion that killed him. (Sheridan
traditional Italian cheese making processes are the
legacy that he has passed onto his two sons Joseph
and Max, who now lead the Paesanella Cheese Manufacturers
organisation. Their commitment to never compromise
the quality, formula and vision of their product is
testament to the true Italian cheese making way.
vision is now a reality. Although he had to deal with
many hard times in starting and growing his business,
he pioneered Australian culinary tastes and indirectly
brokered acceptance of the Italian community in the
Australian way of life.
Cheese Manufacturers is now a brand that is recognised
widely in the Australian dairy industry as an award
winning, high quality product as witnessed in various
to awards section of website) and is a symbol
of what fresh Italian cheese should be.