What do a microbiologist and a former local record store owner have in common? Would you believe it if I told you “nut cheese”? Punk Rawk Labs (PRL) makes healthy, vegan nut cheeses right in the heart of Corcoran and this is their story.
About 2 ½ years ago, Alissa was recovering from an accident and teaching raw food classes at a local co-op. Reliant on a walker, she needed some help at class and enlisted a co-worker. They quickly found common ground: both had health issues or allergies where diet played a major role in feeling well on a daily basis and both had known that feeling of being the odd-person out with a restrictive diet at social functions. Recently trained as a raw food chef, Alissa saw nut cheeses as a fun project and had started a Kickstarter fund. She imagined selling small amounts locally, but by the end of her campaign she had prospective clients nationally and needed help with the quickly growing business. Coincidentally, Julie was looking for her next new venture and that is how Punk Rawk Labs was born.
The PRL storefront in Corcoran is a perfect location since Julie lives in the neighborhood and they were able to build it to suit their needs. Originally, the idea was to have a café and serve nutritious fare, but the demand has been so great with their wholesale distribution it puts a retail location on the back burner.
PRL nut cheeses are great options for vegans, those with food allergies or auto-immune disorders, or anyone who loves cheese. The product is not just cheese substitute. It is an actual cheese, made from cashew milk and fermented in a process similar to dairy cheese. This is where the microbiology comes in! Recipes may need to be modified if the nuts are more or less oily or meaty and a lot of science goes into making sure each batch turns out just right. Their approach must be working as they have had many customers tell them this is as close as it gets to a real dairy cheese.
You can get your PRL nut cheese at most local co-ops in the refrigerated section and they come in Original, Nacho, Smoked or Herbed. Serve them with chips or crackers or even on a salad. The cheeses melt some, similar to a goat cheese, and can be used on pizzas and any other way you use regular dairy cheese.
I think the moral of this story is that sometimes accidents happen and the end result isn’t always something bad. In this case, it’s a new beginning and a new career for the owners and a healthy new product that is in high demand for many people with restrictive diets I will be watching in hopes that café finds a way into their story in the near future.
Punk Rawk Labs (PRL)
2224 East 35th Street
Kelly Savage is a resident of Corcoran Neighborhood, and a volunteer reporter with Corcoran News to spotlight local businesses. If you know of a business in neighborhood that should be spotlighted, please contact <[email protected]>.