Savannah native Solomon Cohen was learning the craft of cooking at culinary school in Austin, Texas when he bit into something revolutionary.
It was Cassava, a Brazilian-style cheese roll popular among rural farmers and busy street vendors throughout the South American country.
A light went off in Cohen’s head – this tasty, cheesy morsel would become his passion. Cohen returned to Georgia and launched his homegrown business, Papa Mountain Artisan Cheese Bread.
The company began by selling the crispy and creamy breads at local farmer’s markets and Saturday affairs, expanding their reach through word of mouth and social media.
Three years later, Cohen’s naturally gluten-free take on the traditional cheese rolls are gaining traction, now being sold at markets and health food stores throughout the state.
“It’s delicious, it’s allergen free and gluten free and has a great texture for people who like bread in general,” Cohen shared. “It’s very addicting.”
The cheese breads resemble a small, round roll, with a crispy crunch on the outside and doughy, cheesy interior inside. They come in four flavors – classic cheese bread, garlic and herb, chili and lime, and sweet potato.
Papa Mountain is truly a mom-and-pop shop, with Cohen and his wife building the business from the ground up and filling orders as they expect their second child.
The couple have a small food-processing outfit, with a handful of part-time employees who help the business mix, bake, prepare and ship their breads across Georgia.
Like many businesses throughout the peach state, Papa Mountain has experienced a downturn during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We've been affected - like any other food business. All of our markets and events have been shut down and we’ve pushed everything to online ordering,” he said.
While the tasty treats are available the few stores which are able to remain open, business has shifted online, with the company shipping their unique twist on a Brazilian favorite straight to customer’s doors.
“We're hoping to be able to get some of this economic relief and we’re staying hopeful that things rebound soon,” Cohen shared.
Looking ahead, Cohen plans to expand the business as life returns to a new normal. They hope to add Papa Mountain products to more stores and markets throughout the state.
In them meantime, they maintain connection with their loyal customers through active Facebook and Instagram pages, showing how the bread that first inspired him on the streets of Texas is now made with care in Georgia.
“It’s local people that really make up the bulk of our business – local stores, local markets,” Cohen said. “We really appreciate all of our customers who have continued to support us.”
Papa Mountain cheese breads are available throughout Georgia in select restaurants and health food stores. In Savannah, they can be found at Brighter Day Natural Foods and Fox & Fig Café.