I’m wary of describing my own taste as superior.
Stefan Kranebitter (a trained cheese sommelier) is known as almost always having a smile on his face, and has been offering one of the largest selections of cheese from all over the Tyrol in the Markthalle Innsbruck since 2013. At the age of only 23, he opened his cheese delicatessen in the Markthalle; now his shop is well-known far and wide.
Deciding to branch out on your own at age 23 is a huge step – it’s an even greater one when you consider that you actually had a whole other career planned out before you opened your shop.
Well, I wasn’t completely new to the game. Before opening the Käse-Kulinarium, I had worked as a forwarder, but I had also learned quite a bit about cheese from my father. He is a cheese merchant and has supplied the Tyrolean gastronomy industry with cheese for quite a while. He took me with him on the odd delivery round when I was a little kid so it wasn’t such a huge turnaround for me to open a cheese shop.
You’re already well-known outside the Tyrol for your top-class selection.
That’s down to the fact that I’ve already dabbled in online trade parallel to my stand here in the Markthalle. Although sales via the internet do well, too, the opening of my cheese shop in the Markthalle was a very good decision. I love dealing with people on a daily basis, being able to advise my customers directly and of course allowing them to sample the products.
Although Austria offers some wonderful cheeses, the general choice of different varieties is somewhat limited. So you also have a lot of European varieties in your range in addition to the domestic Graukäse and Bergkäse.
You can’t have a serious business and ignore France, Italy, England and Spain. Austria’s cheeses are fantastic and include some typical varieties that you can’t find in any other country. But of course I also offer many other sorts such as Parmesan, Manchego, Stilton and Brie.
What is your absolute favourite?
Oh, it’s virtually impossible for me to answer that question. One sort of cheese from one Alpine pasture can be very different depending on the year of production. The weather plays a major role, as does who made the cheese and what sort of a mood the animals were in. laughs But, as a Tyrolean native, I am of course a big fan of Bergkäse, although I am also partial to a good Langres from Champagne. But I wouldn’t make a very good cheese merchant if I only liked one particular sort.
It’s no longer a secret that enjoying cheese involves more than just the cheese itself. You offer some wonderful ideas that can be perfectly combined with your great passion.
A selection of mustards, mustard sauces, chutneys and fruit vinegars make perfect sense and can complement the flavour of the cheese wonderfully. I’m particularly happy about the “Saurer Stoff” that I’ve been offering in the shop recently. This is the name given to Vorarlberg balsamico variations, which I can highly recommend and which are available in many exciting flavours.
What is the best combination, in your opinion?
I’m wary of describing my own taste as superior. I’m very against “laws” that say which cheese goes with which mustard and what sorts you must never combine. Everybody has their own taste, and I encourage every customer to discover their own favourite combination.