Speciality Spotlight with I AM NUT OK Vegan Cheese & Third Culture Deli

Tell us a bit about I AM NUT OK and how it started.

I AM NUT OK was born in 2017. The company was founded by Angela Chou and Nivi Jasa, a couple living in London. Angela was already vegan when they met, and hailing from Los Angeles, she knew exactly how good vegan food could be. Instantly hooked by the positive impact on health, the environment and animal welfare that this lifestyle offered, Nivi agreed to go vegan too.

However, being Italian, he knew he would really struggle without cheese. At that time, the vegan cheese available on the market was pretty dire. So, Angela started making some for Nivi in their home kitchen. They both immediately realised that it was something special, so they started selling it at a local farmers market.

Inspired by the feedback and the customers who returned week after week for their cheeses, they gradually scaled the company up. Both Angela and Nivi come from design backgrounds. So, the products have always looked as ravishing as they taste. As a result, within a year I AM NUT OK had secured a listing with Fortnum & Mason (who assumed this was a long-established brand), and that was all before they’d even had a chance to launch their own online shop. It has been onwards and upwards ever since, but the same recipes that Angela developed in her kitchen all those years ago are still in use.


What does a typical day at I AM NUT OK and/or Third Culture Deli involve?

Nivi says “I AM NUT OK is a big baby, we are at year 6 and we’ve seen the business evolving quite a lot from when we first started. As we’ve been able to build a team of great people, we are now split between production (we need to make cheese everyday as the demand is really high), shipping (fulfilling online orders, retail, and restaurants), and all the behind-the-scenes that’s necessary to grow the business, from sales to social media, R&D and releasing new products, it’s almost impossible to take a break!

On the other hand, Third Culture Deli is a different baby, more needy as it’s only 1.5 years old, but also more diverse and unpredictable, which is both challenging and fascinating, as we learn something new every day. From how the weather can affect your sales, to the music that you play, the way you display your products, posters and marketing materials, everything has an impact on the business, and we just love the day to day challenges. This month we released a few specials for Lunar New Year and the reaction has been amazing, selling out everyday on all our specials!”


What makes I AM NUT OK produce different?

Angela says “We create our products by fermenting cashew nuts with dairy-free cheese cultures. In this culturing process, the plant proteins are transformed into cheesy goodness full of good lactic bacteria, which gives it that authentic tang. Our aged cheeses are blended with high quality herbs and spices and matured in our cellars to develop deep and complex flavours. This artisanal process is a labour of love, and it results in the most incredible tasting plant-based cheeses.

Many of the vegan cheeses on the market are made from oils, starches and unusual ingredients with long names that seem to need a chemistry degree to decipher. The recipes for I AM NUT OK’s cheeses were developed in a home kitchen, so the ingredients are clean and understandable, with either cashew nuts or soya milk making up the lion’s share.

We focus on big flavours rather than simply mimicking conventional cheeses, which is why so many dairy lovers have fallen head over heels for our cheeses too. They contain no cholesterol, making them a healthier choice. Around 65% of the world’s population experiences some form of lactose intolerance, with the highest numbers among people of colour, which makes plant-based cheeses a far more inclusive option. We conducted a Life Cycle Assessment Report on one of our cashew-based cheeses, which concluded that the greenhouse gas emissions were 72% lower than that of a dairy-based equivalent. So, switching from dairy to vegan is a great decision for the environmentally conscious. And finally, it goes without saying that our cheeses are a compassionate choice when it comes to animal welfare.”


At Peter’s Yard, our ethos is all about taking time for the simple pleasures in life – tell us, what are your favourite pastimes?

We love eating food, cooking it, but also researching it and getting inspired, whether from a packaging perspective or from a flavour profile, we just love looking around and trying new things, as that’s definitely one of our main sources of inspiration!


How do you enjoy Peter’s Yard?

The best way has always been this: grab 3 of your favourite cheeses, usually Minerthreat, Nerominded, and one of the butters (let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes) and just spread them on the crackers while pairing them with pickles and ferments. As we are not big drinkers, we usually pair them with kombucha, the tarter the better!


What do you love about Peter’s Yard products?

The big range of flavour is what caught our attention initially, and that’s also why we stock them on our online shop (iamnutok.com) and deli (Third Culture). Plus, the branding is on point, quality of the products excellent, and also the price point really reflects in a positive way all of the above mentioned qualities, an easy sell!


Finally, what’s planned for this year at I AM NUT OK and Third Culture Deli?

For I AM NUT OK we are definitely going to focus more on expanding our food service channels, as we want to see our mozzarella on every single pizza in the UK, as we believe that plant-based and dairy intolerant customers deserve a good melty vegan cheese on their pizza, and we are here for that!

Angela and Nivi from I AM NUT OKAY and Third Culture Deli talking about Peter's Yard