Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive April 2017 Show 1718 Lovera’s Cheeses

Lovera’s Cheeses

Since 1907, Lovera’s has brought its distinct Italian flavors from the mountains of Piemonte to the plains of Oklahoma.
Lovera’s Cheeses

Lovera’s Cheeses

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Lovera’s Handcrafted Foods

Pontotoc Technology Center


Show Details

Show 1718: Lovera’s Cheeses
Air Date: April 30, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, while the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska prides itself on having a little bit of everything, Lovera’s Handcrafted Foods in Krebs, Oklahoma, has taken a different approach of doing just a few things, but doing them very well. Austin Moore explains.

Austin Moore: For those travelers in search of the best cuisine, Italy is likely at the top of the list. The country is famous for wine, pasta and especially for cheese. But if Italy is out of reach, Krebs, Oklahoma, will take you on its own tasty journey.

Sam Lovera: If you go to Rome, you are not going to get a meal like you would in Krebs. Or vice versa. It has kind of evolved. It is Italian style but it has evolved from like a Depression era Italian.

Austin: Sam Lovera is the owner of Lovera’s Italian Grocery, known not just as a destination store for Italian ingredients, but also for the sausage they produce and for the cheese.

Lovera: We make world-class cheese. Right here in Oklahoma.

Austin: A claim his cheesemaker -- and son-in-law -- Shawn Duffy can back up.

Shawn Duffy: Our Caciocavera cheese, our traditional, was voted the best mild provolone in the world in 2012 in England. Our smoked cheese, our hickory smoked cheese, just two years ago in Sacramento, California, was voted the best smoked cheese in the country.

Austin: Of course, the story is not really about the cheese. Not really. It is about the jobs.

Duffy: Artisan cheese is very much in and of itself a labor-intensive process. And so just innate in its nature is the opportunity to develop jobs and those things because it is very hands on.

Austin: So when Lovera’s wanted to expand their line, the small facility on-site was not enough. Enter Pontotoc Technology Center and their small business incubator, which normally helps startups grow.

Hershel Williams: Anywhere from IT, from computer programs that they use on their books, their record keeping. We help train their employees. If they need soft skills, we do that right here at Pontotoc Technology Center.

Austin: Hershel Williams works with agriculture business management at Pontotoc.

Williams: Normally, our companies stay here three years. We help them get established and get them on their feet, and then they move on. The cheese plant people, they will be here. The only time they will leave here is if they outgrow the facility and build a bigger facility for them to move to.

Duffy: This facility opens up all sorts of opportunities for us to expand, hire on new people, bring on new dairies and that sort of thing.

Austin: With the installation of a new food-grade floor thanks to the Ada Jobs Foundation, the school board here saw an opportunity to create new jobs for Ada with Lovera’s hiring a local crew and to shore up some of the region’s oldest industry.

Williams: We had a need for farmers and ranchers here in this southeast Oklahoma to have a place to produce their goat milk. And this is an opportunity for a small-time family to come in and put a hundred goats in and make a profit at it. And that is the key point, you know, no need to do it for practice. So we need to do it for a profit.

Austin: Cross Broom Farms supplies goat milk to Lovera’s. Owner Becky Wise.

Wise: He had wheels of goat milk cheese. And I was just like, “Is that ours?” and he said, “Yeah. That come from your goats.” And I was like, golly, that is just awesome. It is awesome. That is my milk. That is my milk. And I helped make that product.

Lovera: It makes us feel so great to be able to keep them in business, and you are able to keep their business going by what we are doing.

Rob: Now, if you would like to taste Lovera’s cheese it is showing up at a number of retailers and can also be found online.