1. The House That Cheese Built by Miguel Leal hollischapmanshow 33:00

MIGUEL LEAL  is widely regarded as the “Godfather of Mexican Cheese” in the United States, Miguel Leal’s story humbly began at a cheese factory in his native Mexico as a teenager. When he was invited to travel to the United States as an apprentice, he jumped at the chance. One of six children raised in poverty after the tragic death of his father in an earthquake, Leal arrived in Wisconsin without money and speaking little English. As an illegal immigrant, he had no choice but to make a cardboard bed on the factory’s boiler room floor.  

Despite these challenges—through grit, persistence, and hard work—Leal observed and learned every step of cheesemaking, from cleaning the equipment to cutting and packaging cheese for sale. He was among the first to recognize that the growing number of Latinx immigrants in the U.S. meant there would be a market for specialty Mexican cheeses, and eventually partnered with a master cheesemaker from Wisconsin to work with the Amish in Ohio to produce and hand-sell 60-pound wheels of cotija cheese in the Chicago metro area.