A Shelby Township, family-run business is sharing their ancestral take on feta
By Molly Abraham // Photographs by Jacob Lewkow
There’s yet another international thread being woven into Michigan’s colorful tapestry.
The Genadiev family originated in the Macedonian town of Tetovo in the shadow of the Shara Mountain. It’s a cheese-making center and the family was making feta as their ancestors had done.
But the United States beckoned, and in 2010, the extended family of eight immigrated to the United States, bringing with them the ancient recipes and skills of cheese making.
This spring, spokeswoman Gordana Genadieva says the family started making cheese like they did in the old country. (Editor’s note: Macedonian women often place an “a” at the end of their surname.)
“The principal cheese maker is Ljupco, who is my husband,” Genadieva says. “[But] he doesn’t want me to say this, pointing out that it is not something that can be made by a single person.”
That said, Genadieva’s husband knows a bit more than the others. “And his knowledge and skills are crucial parts in cheese-making,” she says.
The Genadievs are all involved in different ways. “It is a family business and each of us contributes,” Genadieva says. “Borislava is my mother-in-law; Sasho [is] my husband’s brother, and Julijana, my sister-in-law. Angel [and] Borko [are] our children; and Angela is Sasho’s and Julijana’s daughter.”
The Genadievs’ recipes are marketed as Oro Cheese (named after their street in Shelby Township). They are made from only milk, Genadieva says. “This cheese has a fermentation period of 45 days. During that time, it changes the taste. It becomes deeper so you can feel the natural taste of milk. Each [cheese] is specific.”
The family makes three styles: Greek-, Bulgarian-, and French-style fetas in brine out of a 3,500-square-foot facility in Shelby Township.
Although the cheese itself is hand-prepared, the milk (all from Michigan farms) is pasteurized with high-tech equipment.
In the short time they’ve been in business, the Genadiev family has been notably successful. The first store to take the Oro cheese was ATKO USA Supermarket in Shelby Township. Now, their cheeses are in nearly a dozen stores across Michigan, including Folgarelli’s Imported Food Market in Traverse City, Max’s Deli in Sterling Heights, and Babylon Ethnic Food in West Bloomfield.
“I tasted everything — three varieties,” says Barbara Shepard of Randazzo’s Fresh Market in Shelby Township, which hosted a tasting of the cheeses in mid-July. “They are all very good.”
Genadieva notes that Comerica Park and MGM Grand also are customers, as are the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms, Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, and Egypt Valley near Grand Rapids.