THE DAILY IBERIAN
“I want to be the king of the South Louisiana cheese world.” It’s a grandiose ambition, but Jay Florsheim of Peace, Love and Smoke ain’t scared. “I didn’t know how big this would get a year ago, so go big or go home, I say.” Of course, he’s already home, in his smoking headquarters, planning the day’s work.
“I don’t sleep, so I started a batch of cheese at about 2 a.m. this morning,” he said. That batch won’t get to market for about three weeks or a month, being vacuum-packed and stored in the refrigerator to allow flavors to develop. “Cheese right out of the smoker tastes way too smoky,” he said. “You can really taste the difference as it mellows.”
“When I first started Peace, Love and Smoke, I was smoking about 10 different cheeses at a time. I’m learning to narrow the inventory to the most popular, and it varies as to where I’m selling,” he said. He sells at the Teche Area Festival and Farmers Market, and it seems New Iberia loves spicy cheese.
Habanero Cheddar is a much-requested choice, as is Smoked Pepper Jack. And there is always the world-famous Hippie Havarti, havarti cheese marinated in wine, then smoked, by far the most popular of the Peace Love and Smoke’s offerings. The newest addition to the line is smoked shaved parmesan.”The parm is easy, since being thinly shaved, it can be ready to go in a day, instead of having to wait a month to mellow,” FLorsheim said.
“I’m expanding my customer base. I have several different markets I sell in — I’m pretty much a regular at Teche Area, I have had great success at the Delcambre market, and I sell at the Oil Center market in Lafayette,” he said. “I really enjoy being in a market with customers. That way, I can demo my products, get reactions, get ideas. This is not sexy like barbecue, but nobody else is doing it, and I’m amazed at the great response.”
Peace, Love and Smoke products can also be found at the Millside Market in New Iberia, and they are featured in “jar-cuteries” from the local company, For the Jars. “Those ladies hustle,” Florsheim said. “They’re selling at a new market, the Market at Tops in Lafayette starting this Thursday. I’m proud to be represented in their products.”
Florsheim has partnered with other local chefs and foodies as well. “I’m going to be part of a charcuterie presentation with Johnnie Gale, and later in the summer, I’m going to do one of Chef Dave Hulin’s Beyond the Glass presentations as guest chef; I’ve already put my smoked cheddar and smoked mozzarella in his past events.”
Where is all this smoking going? “I’ve got dreams,” he said. “I could see myself opening a cheese shop in downtown New Iberia. Plus I’d like to experiment with other things, like marinated cheese, goat cheese, smoked cream cheese.”
Even now, Peace Love and Smoke does not stop at cheese. Florsheim offers smoked nuts, and spices such as smoked paprika and soaked sea salt. “I don’t know where this is all headed, I know I’m going wherever it takes me,” he said. If it gets no bigger, I’m okay with it, I’m having fun!”
Speaking of fun, Jay recently hosted a graduation party for son Johnathan, which featured lots of Peace Love and Smoke, including the following recipe for Smokin’ Queso. The recipe can be doubled or tripled to accommodate demand, and is done all on the grill.
1 pound smoked cheddar
1 pound smoked pepper jack
1 diced jalapeno
1 can green chilies
16 ounces pico de gallo
8 ounces pork chorizo
Place all ingredients in an aluminum roasting pan and place on the grill, cook low and slow at approximately 225 degrees for 30 minutes. Check, stir and enjoy with your favorite dippers, like sturdy tortilla chips.