Hidden New York: The cheese caves

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Walking along Bleeker Street, you smell the aroma of cheese pouring out of Murray’s Cheese Shop.

The store is packed with so many different cheeses to choose from for your pleasure.

What you probably did not know, was that all the cheese on display, actually is prepared and packed up in a huge warehouse over in Long Island City.

Over 15,000 pounds of cheese sit and age in the facility known as the “cheese caves,” a delicate process that takes months of tender love and care for that perfect taste.

“This is a fine mist that creates and stabilizes the humidity levels,” describes Elizabeth Chubbuck, the SVP of sales and marketing for Murray’s.

“Cheeses need very specific conditions for the ripening process to happen as it should, and we have to carefully control the amount of moisture and drying that occur.

It is such a delicate process; the company employs a “cavemaster,” who is really a microbiologist.

“They call me the cavemaster, or caveman,” says Peter Jenkelunas.

His job is to really monitor the mold and bacteria levels, which are key factors in creating the perfect creation.

PJ says sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.

“We do a lot of experimenting,” says Jenkelunas. “Sometimes we come up with something great, sometimes it’s awful.”

But, with all his knowledge and expertise, it all comes down to good ol’ fashioned taste in the end.

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