Julie Piatt is a renowned chef, artist, author, musician, and healer who, about three years ago, aspired to break the mold of the plant-based cheese industry. She did just that with her brand SriMu, an artisanal NOT cheese that is completely paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free: a completely new-world take on traditional European cheeses.
The California-based company is in the process of moving its production to Memphis, with a mid-April opening date.
Although Julie primarily grew up eating game meat in Alaska, she was inspired to adopt a vegan lifestyle when her husband, renowned ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, became vegan in his forties while training for a Double IRONMAN.
Once Julie realized just how extraordinary of a feat Rich was training for, she was consumed with a passion to feed him the best plant-based food. All her experimentation turned into three plant-based cookbooks, including “This Cheese Is Nuts!: Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home,” published in June 2017. This particular cookbook was the moment that SriMu was born.
“I was so inspired by the cheese-like taste I was able to create using just nuts,” she explains. “SriMu is proof that there are many ways to create things in life if we can be open and available with the wonder of a child.”
Before Julie officially launched SriMu, she knew she had cracked the code to the perfect vegan cheese alternative that would truly rival dairy cheese. She had served it to people at many events and was blown away by the reactions. Even her European friends, obsessed with traditional cheese, were raving over SriMu.
Julie describes SriMu as a kinder choice for animals and our planet. “It’s about connection and community,” she says. “SriMu is an invitation- however you’re eating, you’re invited in to enjoy it.”
Julie’s passion for fostering connection and community is why SriMu is moving production from California to Crosstown Concourse in Memphis.
Tom Lawrence, founder and CEO of Memphis-based Benefit Recovery Group and one of the lead investors in SriMu in the seed round, recommended that Julie visit Memphis. She came and toured Crosstown Concourse and was immediately inspired.
“Crosstown is an epicenter of art, music, community – everything I’m passionate about,” Julie explains.
Because SriMu is a largely subscription-based company, most of the space in the new Crosstown location will be dedicated to production. However, a portion of the space will be devoted to Julie’s first SriMu wine and cheese cafe, where patrons can come in and enjoy organic wine and artisanal cheese or grab a ready-made cheese board to go.
Julie is thrilled to bring SriMu to the Memphis community.
“Memphis has welcomed us with open arms already, and it’s truly such a special place,” she remarks.
By Lucy Modzelewski