I found out about Big Mozz’s mozzarella-making classes when I first spoke to founder Matt Gallira a few weeks ago. While he usually hosts the classes at his Chelsea Market cheese bar, Gallira had to rethink his business when the pandemic hit. Originally, one of his main objectives in conducting his classes over Zoom was to help keep his dairy supplier, Caputo Brothers Creamery, in operation, but before long, Gallira’s online mozzarella-making classes were a smash hit.
Usually, Gallira hosts the classes six times a week, and they’re often fully booked up to two months in advance. One of the advantages of hosting classes online, however, is there isn’t really an upper limit on how many people can attend. Case in point: Gallira mentioned to me that he hosted a private class with more than 150 people. The base cost of the class is $65.
Another perk of hosting classes online is the accessibility the class now offers.
“If you live in New York and you tried our class, you can now do it with your parents in Missouri and your friends in L.A.,” Gallira said. “You can all be in the same room, same class.”
Gallira also talked about how interested the class attendees were in the science behind cheesemaking, dairy production, and how the mozzarella Big Mozz makes is lactose-free.
“People ask really amazing questions,” Gallira said. “You’ll get these interesting questions about cheese science, dairy farming, farming practices and fermentation. We have had to become students of all these topics.”
A Pound of Curds
Frankly, I was a little skeptical when Gallira told me they shipped mozzarella curds to class attendees around the country from their dairy supplier in Pennsylvania. But my curiosity got the better of me and before I knew it, I was signed up for a class.
Big Mozz sends all their attendees a pound of mozzarella curds to make into fresh mozzarella. At first, I thought a full pound sounded a bit excessive, but Gallira assured me that most of his attendees ended up eating most of the first pound of mozzarella during the class. Many of his attendees actually ordered two pounds of curds, and Gallira recommended doing so, as it doesn’t cost much more to buy two pounds of curds from the dairy farm than one. (The cost of the extra pound is $30.)
Caputo Brothers Creamery sent me one pound of mozzarella curds wrapped up in an ice pack, a small bag of sea salt and a few packets of information about the dairy farm and the steps required to make mozzarella. The only things I needed were a few large bowls, a spoon, hot water and a computer.
The class started with a quick introduction from Gallira and his colleagues. They gave an overview on how mozzarella is made, then dove straight into a presentation on the steps we’d be taking to make our own mozzarella.
Then, we tried it for ourselves. While the Big Mozz team made it look easy, it was quite difficult to get the hang of - not to mention that I burned my hand a few times trying pick up the ball of mozzarella out of a bowl of near-boiling water.
Finally, after a few tries, I had a few roundish mozzarella pearls. After eating a few, I dipped the rest in balsamic vinegar and olive oil; though to be honest, they tasted better by themselves.
As expected, the mozzarella I made was delicious. What I didn’t expect was how hard I had to work to stretch the mozzarella - I broke a sweat trying to repeatedly lift and shape each ball as I followed along with the Big Mozz team. But at the end of the class, I felt a real sense of accomplishment as I had successfully made cheese by myself in my own kitchen.
Experience a mozzarella-making class with Big Mozz at bigmozz.com/zoom.
“People ask really amazing questions. You’ll get these interesting questions about cheese science, dairy farming, farming practices and fermentation. We have had to become students of all these topics.” Matt Gallira of Big Mozz