Pokhara Cheese: A Look at Western Influence in Nepal
One example of a deep artisan expression and western influence in Kathmandu is several farmer’s markets that pop up on the weekends.
One of these is held in Lazimpat at La Sherpa restaurant. In it, there are all kinds of goods you can buy. It is a traditional farmer’s market in every sense of the word with traditional vegetable and fruit stands. There you can buy all kinds of produce. However, on top of produce, there are offerings of homemade cheeses, New York style bagels, and pastries you would find on the streets of France.
One such person is Tilak Subedi, owner of Pokhara cheese. Tilak makes all sorts of cheeses, from smoked gouda to Stilton Blue. One would not think you would find such goods in the middle of the Himalayas.
When asked how Tilak ended up where he is today, he said, “I learned from an Australian woman when my friend and I were running a restaurant in Pokhara 7 years ago.”
I then asked him why he chose to get in the cheese business. He went on to say, “I found cheese more interesting than the restaurant world, I had more freedom to be creative and try all different types of cheeses from around the world, it is really fascinating.
I then asked him what his vision was for his business. He told me, “I want to make a sustainable business that I can make a living off of. Right now I have a couple cows and I make the cheese in my house. I was born in a farming village outside of Pokhara growing things like rice and wheat but now with this business, I want to teach my future kids how to make cheese and make a living off of it.”
In closing with Tilak, I asked him what some of his greatest challenges are in growing his business. He went on to tell me that a over half of his customer base are foreigners but there are a growing customer base of Nepalis that buy his goods. The main challenge is educating them in the different types of cheeses around the world outside of traditional Nepali cheese.
There are many young entrepreneurs like Tilak utilizing western influence in Nepal to make good business and income. As globalization continues to grow, little niche artisan markets for goods like Pokhara Cheese will continue to grow. Instead of denying influence of other countries, Nepal has taken it in and used it to their benefit.
Reported by Cameron Custance