You may or may not recognize the name Quality Cheese, but there’s a very good chance you’ve tasted their incredible products.
The Vaughan, Ont.-based company is home to the Albert’s Leap and Bella Casara brands, and supplies both the retail and food service sectors—including private label brands for major wholesalers such as Costco and various supermarket chains. They’re a true Canadian food industry success story.
A history of innovation
But this is about more than awards and rapid growth (although those are important details, too!). This is the story of a second-generation Italian-Canadian family whose hard work and passion for their culinary craft transformed a small company into an internationally-renowned manufacturer, distributor and retailer of Italian specialty cheese and cheese snack products that employs more than 100 people.
Quality Cheese’s attention to detail and obsession over quality—not to mention unrivalled selection, considering they make more than 100 different varieties of cheese—has made us fans for a very long time. Maybe we were destined to work together, seeing as how my husband Carmine worked for Quality as a teenager. In other words, they’re a supplier we love and one whose products we proudly feature in our catered creations. Case in point: in October, we used their award-winning mozzarella for a cheese-pull contest and our fried cheese slider at the Toronto Catering Showcase. Both were huge (and decadent) hits!
So, what makes Quality Cheese so unique?
“It’s all about innovation,” explains Albert Borgo, who runs the business alongside brothers Joseph and William. “If you look at our burrata cheese as an example, we’re the only one doing it in Canada, and it’s given us tremendous success. When we started making it 10 years ago, no one knew what it was and today it’s massive for us.”
We must say, their mozzarella-based burrata—a pliable cheese filled with a rich and creamy spreadable centre, whose name means ‘buttered’ in Italian—is probably the best we’ve ever tasted. You’d be hard-pressed to find better, even in the old country.
Specializing to stand out
Quality Cheese also leads the way in the production of smoked cheeses and the development of other specialty products—the specialization strategy was initially implemented to help the company gain access to additional milk supply in Canada’s tightly-regulated and quota-driven dairy market—that’s led the brothers to create new favourites such as their acclaimed wood-oven pizza mozzarella, specially designed to maintain its pliability at high temperatures (which is also perfect for cheese-pull contests!). They also began producing a fantastic Taleggio Locale that was new to the market at the time and extremely popular among discerning foodies.
“It’s about doing different things outside the norm,” Borgo says, adding that quality still trumps all when you’re competing with the very finest cheese products from around the world. “If it’s not good, no one’s going to buy it.”
While consumers have long given Quality’s recipes and craftsmanship the thumbs up, so, too, have some of the most prominent chefs on Toronto’s red-hot food scene who, along with television personalities on foodie-friendly channels such as the Food Network, have featured the company’s products in their most creative dishes.
Of course, that ongoing commitment to production excellence is no accident.
An Old World focus on quality
The Quality Cheese story dates back 50 years, when the company’s founder Almerigo Borgo emigrated to Canada from a small mountain town in Italy’s famed Asiago cheese-making region, with little more than his father’s recipes and cheese production techniques in his back pocket. The elder Borgo worked tirelessly to grow the company, blending the best of the Old World and New, before selling the original business and purchasing Quality Cheese in 1988. In 2000, the Borgos opened their state-of-the-art production facility in Vaughan and began producing soft-ripened cheeses. They opened an additional facility in Orangeville, Ont., in 2016, specifically to produce brie.
It was a wise investment.
Not only did the factories allow the Borgos to produce highly-specialized cheeses, they provided an opportunity to experiment with new recipes and perfect an increasingly sophisticated selection of succulent products. The industry was quick to take note, showering the company with numerous awards over the years. In 2015, for example, Quality’s Bella Casara Ricotta was the first Ontario cheese to earn the coveted Grand Champion title, beating out renowned cheeses from other, more established, regions.
Prior to that, their Bella Casara Mascarpone won for best Ontario Cheese, Best Fresh Cheese and Best Cow’s Milk Cheese. And those are only two of the company’s many, many accolades.
While we’re in love with all of Quality’s glorious products, we’re especially big fans of their Albert’s Leap Belle Marie Brie, Bella Casara Sfoglia, any of their buffalo mozzarella products and, of course, their Mont de Chimay—a cheese that comes with its own unique story.
Drawing inspiration from around the world
Wanting to try something completely different and unique, the Borgos reached out to Trappist monks in Belgium, requesting permission to produce their signature Mont de Chimay cheese in Canada using traditional techniques—but with Canadian ingredients.
“It was the first time the monks had ever licensed a foreign processor to market and produce their cheese outside of Belgium,” Borgo recalls.
The result is a mild-tasting, creamy cheese that’s become one of Quality’s most sought-after products.
The innovation didn’t end there. The brothers also set out to produce an indescribably good fondue brie—a bloomy rind bake-in-the-box cheese that combines finely cut herbs to produce a ripe butter and wild mushroom flavour. Best of all: it comes in an oven-ready wood crate that, when baked, turns the creamy deliciousness inside into an herby dip. And like all of Quality’s products, it’s made from 100 per cent Canadian milk.
But after all these years of success, new generations of Borgos passing through the family business and countless meals made better by their lovingly-crafted products, the one thing that hasn’t changed is an unrelenting focus on providing great service.
When you visit their retail shop it’s like being transported back to the small town in Italy where the seeds of the current family business were sown. Their staff are always willing to take you on a tasting tour of their products, making you feel like one of their own and working to ensure you leave with a smile (and a bag full of their mouthwatering cheeses). At a time when fast service and quick sales make most food-buying experiences completely transactional, their warm, high-touch approach stands out.
It’s clear that for the Borgo family, quality is more than just a name—it’s a way of doing business that stands the test of time. With shared values and a mutual commitment to putting clients first, it’s the reason why Quality is our cheese supplier of choice.
And did I mention that we just can’t get enough of their heavenly cheeses?
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