“Until I discovered Di Stefano, I had never been able to find burrata with the rich, creamy flavor like that I first tasted and fell in love with in Italy.”

– Nancy Silverton

A conversation with the ever lively and dynamic Mimmo Bruno, the man who introduced Burrata to America.

Di Stefano, a family owned cheese company in Southern California has a lifetime of experience, tradition and passion for making cheese. Di Stefano’s boutique-style cheese company is dedicated to making fresh burrata, mozzarella, mascarpone, ricotta, Samorza and Caciocavallo and known for being the most authentic, award-winning fresh cheeses available in the US.

Mimmo Bruno, Owner and Founder of DiStefano Cheese

What was it about cheesemaking with your father in Puglia that got you so interested in the artisan craft as a young boy?

The science behind it. The way the milk could be transformed into cheese.

Did you choose to start your business in California due to its similarity to your homeland of beautiful Puglia in Southern Italy?

I actually moved to LA in the early ’90s with no intention of starting a cheese company. However, when I tasted the fresh mozzarella that was being sold at that time I couldn’t believe how bad the quality was.
I visited a gentleman from Sicily who was making fresh mozzarella and I asked him why the cheese tasted so different from back home in Italy. He said it was because the milk is not the same. I thought to myself, ‘milk is milk!’ So I challenged myself to prove him wrong. I went home and made my own fresh mozzarella using local milk and it tasted delicious just like I used to make with my father. 

The Di Stefano Burrata Nancy Silverton Connection?

Burrata originated from a small area of Apulia region not far from where I was born. It a very regional type of cheese. There are still places in Italy that do not know what Burrata is believe it or not. I began introducing chefs in California to our Burrata in the early 1990s and no one was interested (because it wasn’t a known product!) Except for one, the now globally renown chef, restauranteur, and purveyor Nancy Silverton. ‘I will never forget (the day I met Nancy at her La Brea kitchen. It was 4:20 pm in the afternoon. She was making bread for her restaurant Campanile at the time. She tasted my Burrata and fell in love with it. She was the first chef to put Burrata on her menu. We have been friends and business associates ever since. She is a wonderful person, very down to earth, very artistic and
communicative. It took this creative and ambitious American girl to show the world how it is done!

Mimmo Bruno and longtime friend and Di Stefano advocate Nancy Silverton.

Di Stefano’s secret to great Burrata? 

It’s got to be fresh and the milk should be local. And never ever be packed in water!  Just like you can’t have wine sit in water, or truffles sit in water, or rinsed with chlorine, you can’t have these practices for authentic fresh Italian cheeses! It kills the flavor. You would be surprised how many cheese companies do this to save money.

Originally, Burrata was packed in an Asphodel leaf, a leaf native to my homeland of Puglia Italy. This leaf was used to indicate the freshness of the cheese. When fresh, the blade would be green, after a few days, the leaf would dry up, indicating the burrata was no longer fresh.  

Thanks to modern pasteurizing and our fresh ingredients, Di Stefano burrata lasts much longer.  Our oldest son Stefano went to Israel to bring to life his invention of 2-ounce portion control cups, Burrata molds (similar to a yogurt cup but shaped to fit the fresh cheese perfectly) that keep the cheese integrity without storing it in water. 

Your beautiful immediate family work for Di Stefano cheeses. What is your secret to running a successful and dynamic family business? 

It is a challenge having a family business sometimes. The secret is for everyone to have their own responsibilities so that we don’t step on each other’s toes.

The DiStefano Family: Mimmo, Mimma, Raffi, Danielle, Alessandro and Stefano Bruno.

What sets Di Stefano apart from its competitors?

Our cheeses are still made by hand. We source milk from our from our own cows and work directly with our own farmers. We never cut corners. Our cheeses are made just how I was taught in Puglia by my father. I learned the hard way as a kid. If I didn’t get it right I’d get a punch in the face! Or a kick to the head. No kidding! The only way to get it right is to do it by the book!