After dabbling in cheesemaking as a hobby, Kandice Marchant fell in love—to the point that she splits her time between serving as medical director of hemostasis and thrombosis at the Cleveland Clinic and running Marchant Manor Cheese.
Marchant first became interested in cheese after traveling Europe with her late husband. Her interest became an obsession after she took a cheesemaking class that her husband bought for her upon their return and she began experimenting with the art.
By 2018 Marchant's passion for cheesemaking had evolved into a second profession when she launched Marchant Manor with the encouragement of Trevor Clatterbuck of Ohio City Provisions, where her cheese is sold.
Marchant Manor Cheese founder and very own Cheese Doctor, Dr Kandice Marchant.Now, Marchant is on the brink of opening her own 3,300-square-foot shop at 2211 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. She secured the former U.S. Bank building about a year ago, and has been readying her shop while simultaneously selling her cheeses are the Shaker Square North Union Farmers Market every Saturday.
She says she hopes to have the shop open in time for the upcoming holiday season.
Like many passion projects, Marchant Manor Cheese is driven by Marchant’s philosophy about her product.
“My concept for cheesemaking is what I would call akin to the wine industry’s terroir concept,” she says. “I mean, you could grow merlot grapes in Santa Barbara, you could grow them in Napa and in Oregon and they’d taste completely different.” Just as the different climates and soils give the grapes different flavors, Marchant alters the flavors of her cheeses with different regional milks.
For instance, many of her signature cheeses are made with special Guernsey milk from Paint Valley Farms in Millersburg, Ohio, where Marchant currently makes her cheese. But she says she plans to source from other local farmers as well.
“Besides Paint Valley, I’m already in discussion with some other farmers that have some unique herds,” says Marchant, who says she specializes in soft, triple cream cheeses made with added butterfat that warrant the company’s tagline— triple cream heaven.
Marchant says her most popular variety is the Elmstead Ash (named after Elmstead Avenue in Birmingham, England), a French Normandy style bloomy rind cheese with a layer of vegetable ash.
“It goes great with a baguette and apricot jam,” she says, “and it’s a great foil for dark chocolate.” Other varieties include Henley (a triple cream barrel-shaped cheese), Lapworth (with porcini mushrooms or peppercorns), Beachy Head (an Ohio Valencay-style goat cheese), and Hathaway cottage cheese—all named for places in England to honor her late husband, who was English.
Marchant says she enjoys the challenge of starting a small business and loves wearing many hats in this new role of shop owner.
“You are HR, you are finance, you are regulatory, you are production, you are marketing, you are advertising,” Marchant explains excitedly. “It’s so different, I find it fascinating. I’ve learned so much.”
Marchant has been busy lately preparing the Lee Road shop for customers. The walls will be a subtle yellow, reminiscent of her products, and the ceiling will feature milk bottle light fixtures. There is even a horse trough over the counter.
Marchant says the original plan was to have a production facility built in the shop before opening, but she has chosen to postpone this phase until the economy stabilizes. Eventually, Marchant will teach classes in-house to spread her cheese gospel more effectively. Instead of “cheese earrings and swag and stuff like that,” she says, she will sell books, cheesemaking kits, and edible accompaniments.
The pandemic will prevent a grand opening this season. “But that’s not [my] style anyway,” says Marchant, adding that, as a doctor, she wants to operate the shop as safely as possible. She has already been offering online ordering with pickup at the Shaker Square Market on Saturdays and home delivery within Cleveland Heights on Fridays. Marchant says she also plans to have curbside pickup after she opens. She is planning for a staggered, invite-only opening.
The Marchant Manor Cheese Shop under construction.She has reason to be optimistic about the opening. Marchant’s loyal customers have told her how glad they are that she is still making cheese throughout these adverse times. “I think people like knowing their food is local during a pandemic,” she speculates.
At the same time, Marchant is deeply aware she’s embarked on a challenging business endeavor.
“Cheese is tough, you know,” says Marchant. “The upfront costs are a lot, it’s a hands-on business, the shelf life of cheese is very short, and it’s susceptible to contaminations—so it’s a very, very hands-on product and it’s really hard to make a lot of money on cheese.”
But Marchant says she’s isn’t launching the shop to get rich. “I’m doing it because I love it and I love it when people enjoy the cheese,” she says. “When somebody says, ‘gee I was at somebody’s house for dinner and they brought out one of your cheeses and everybody went crazy for it,’ that’s what keeps me going.”