Josh Kadrich’s cashew concoction has taken the RVA non-dairy cheese world by storm.

Photo courtesy of UnMoo

“I love cheese, I love dairy, but it doesn’t love me back,” says Josh Kadrich, owner and creator of UnMoo, a new sustainable food startup in Richmond that has created a cultured cashew-based “cheese.” Kadrich, a lactose-intolerant cheese lover, spent most of his life in a constant battle with dairy. “I always had to make sacrifices,” he says. “I was either sabotaging my body or my cravings.”

It wasn’t until summer 2017 when he finally realized that there may be hope for those who love foods associated with dairy, but have dietary restrictions that keep them from enjoying them. Kadrich’s partner was buying some of his favorite goat cheese at a farmers’ market and an idea began to grow. “He bought so much that I finally challenged him that I could make the same thing without the dairy,” says Kadrich.

With a degree in microbiology and a background of working in the food science and production industries, Kadrich started playing around with making cheese from cashews. “The first few experiments were awful, foul-smelling,” says Kadrich. “But nothing makes me more fired up and inclined to keep trying than failure.”

Combined with the knowledge from his degree, he did extensive research online and performed his own experiments with what he learned from peer-reviewed journals on food science. Finally, in March 2018, he hit the holy grail and finally created a product that was rich, buttery, and delicious. Handing his friend a bit of his experimental food project, Kadrich expected to get a typical disgusted reaction. Instead, his friend fell in love. “He was completely blown away,” says Kadrich. The product was wildly delicious, creamy, and aromatic, just like real cheese.

According to Kadrich, culturing is an age-old technique and can be applied to making cheese with cashews. Kadrich combines bacteria from vegan sources with blended fair-trade organic cashews, which––after about a week-long process that includes time for aging––creates a finished product that melts, and tastes, similar to cheese.

With great reactions from his first attempts, Kadrich began planning to take his DIY cashew cheese to the next level. After working with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Science to establish regulations to follow for a new kind of “cheesemaking,” Kadrich sold his first product, Notz, a mozzarella-esque cashew-based cheese, at the Williamsburg Farmers’ Market in August 2018. Now, UnMoo has expanded to selling its products in more than 12 restaurants and retail stores in the central Virginia area, primarily in Richmond. And the number is growing.

“Learning how to scale production from 6 wheels of cheese to about 70 per batch was a learning curve,” says Kadrich. He continued selling his Notz, eventually introducing another product into the ring. Nutter, a cashew and coconut plant-based butter, melts easily into baked pastries––Idle Hands Bread Company in Richmond uses it in their pastries––and is spreadable on fresh bread.

Currently, UnMoo offers the original Notz, Peppercorn Notz, Herbed Notz, and its newest concoction, Habby Jak Notz, a habanero flavor. With plans to expand production into Charlottesville and northern Virginia markets, Kadrich’s DIY food experiment has turned into a business with a cult following of local vegans and people with food allergies craving a decent, sustainable, and ethically sourced non-dairy cheese. Kadrich plans to introduce more products as UnMoo grows, like vegan cream cheese and a Stilton-style blue cheese that is currently in the early testing stage.

“I just laugh sometimes, because behind our cute little smiley face logo is an insane amount of food science,” says Kadrich. “If people knew the extent of it, they would be blown away.”

Where to Find UnMoo

Photo courtesy of UnMoo

Birdhouse Farmers’ Market, Richmond

Carmela’s, Richmond

Ellwood Thompson’s, Richmond

Good Foods Grocery, Richmond

Hang Space, North Chesterfield

Heritage, Richmond

The Hop Craft Pizza & Beer, Richmond

Idle Hands Bread Company, Richmond

Lamplighter Coffee Roasters, Richmond

Pupatella, Richmond

Seasonal Roots Online Farmers’ Market

South of the James Market, Richmond

Union Market, Richmond

Zorch Pizza, Richmond

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