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The other Greek cheese taking off in NZ

Published: 3:22PM Wednesday May 16, 2012 Source: ONE News

Halloumi could soon be the new feta, according to an artisan cheese-maker in Lower Hutt.

Michael Matsis and his sister Meropi have been in the cheese business for 12 years and supply their Zany Zeus halloumi to restaurants across New Zealand.

The duo, of Greek heritage, told TV ONE's Breakfast they think the squeaky cheese still has scope to become more popular.

"It's like feta was when it started out, and now feta is a staple product. I'm not saying halloumi will be a staple product, but I think a lot of people will know what it is in a further 5-10 years", he said.

Michael, who runs the artisan cheese shop with his sister, said he uses a recipe that has been in the family for years.

"When (mum) was younger she would go to the farmer's gate with her aluminium can, pick up the 20 litres of milk, take it home and make cheese for the family," he said.

After his family moved to New Zealand, Michael turned his mother's method of cheese-making into a recipe for success.

He launched Zany Zeus in 2000 with his mother Lefki after several years researching and experimenting with cheese-making, and opened the first store in late March.

Meropi said it all started in her kitchen.

"We were living in together as flatmates. Coming home from a business trip one day, the floor was just covered with empty milk bottles with big pots on the stove," she said.

Michael said he soon started taking his cheese to local restaurants.

"I remember jumping into my car with little chilly bins of halloumi and going around and showing the chefs and cafes, saying 'hey this is halloumi and this is what you can do with it.'"

While Michael expects more growth in his business, he still mainly makes the cheese by hand.

"You're cooking the cheese, folding the cheese - you can't really automate those sorts of products."

Meropi told Breakfast people come from all over Wellington just to learn about the product.

Aside from its specialty halloumi, Zany Zeus also makes 14 flavours of icecream, yoghurt and a range of smoked cheeses.