Tonda Corrente of La Femme du Fromage
The owner of La Femme du Fromage at East End Market dishes about her journey from cheese lover to entrepreneur.
What sparked your interest in cheese?
I have always been very passionate about food and wine, and ultimately finding the perfect pairings for the most amazing dining experiences. And then I found cheese. Cheese became the ultimate quest for understanding not only the most amazing pairings, but truly exploring countries, regions, and terroir in a different yet similar way to wine.
What inspired you to open your own cheese shop?
Passion leads to opportunities, and sometimes, you just need to follow your heart and take a chance on you. There was no one independent really doing cheese in this town, and no one who could teach me anything about it. So the more I tried to teach myself, the more I found that there was a need in the community. When I was approached to open my own store, I knew I had to go for it.
Who has been your greatest professional influence?
I have so many over the years, but [author] Max McCalman is probably my biggest influence in terms of cheese and pushing me along this journey.
What’s your favorite food memory?
Sitting on a mountaintop in the French Alps, watching hang gliders descend around me, and eating a tartiflete for the first time.
Describe your role at La Femme du Fromage.
I am her, La Femme—cheese buyer, visionary, fire-puter- outer, wearer of all hats, and totally dependent on my amazing staff to support my crazy, ever-changing mind.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Keeping the train running, learning how to run a business, and managing staff. I threw myself into this without any idea what I was doing. It’s been one giant learning curve. I’m not perfect, but we are definitely “the little cheese shop that could.”
What’s your favorite flavor to work with?
Cheese, duh! Oh, something else? OK, fine—truffles.
What’s the most creative dish you’ve ever made?
We had to create a dish of lamb testicles for a catered event out at Lake Meadows Farm. They were served with a garlic aioli and topped with a gremolata. They kind of tasted like mushrooms.
What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant right now?
Kabooki is always one of the top choices. I also really love Tori Tori, too. Funny—both are Japanese style and there is no cheese.
What’s the one thing that you want Orlandoans to know about your shop?
We are so honored to have been serving Orlando for the past eight years and are so grateful for the love and community support. We are committed to finding the most awesome cheeses and doing what we can to educate our clientele. I always try to source special requests. If you are looking for something specific, call us.
Any rules to live by?
Life is short, live it. If you want something, go after it. If you put your mind to it, you can absolutely do it. And when the going gets tough, remember, if it was easy, everyone would do it. Keep your eye on the prize. That has always been the best advice for me—that mantra rings in my ears daily.
Can you share any details on the status of the North Quarter location?
This project has been so difficult considering all that we have been through in the past two years. I am happy to report that we are working hard to finally complete the remaining tasks and support the contractors who are also stuck in the middle of their sub projects. Fingers crossed for early 2022.
La Femme du Fromage at East End Market
3201 Corrine Dr., Ste 106
Orlando, FL 32803
Chocolate or vanilla? Dark Chocolate
Coffee or tea? Coffee first thing in the day, tea for the remainder
Beer or wine? Wine
Pizza or pasta? That’s like asking me to choose between parents
Roasted or sous vide? Roasted
Beef or fish? Fish
Bagel or biscuit? Biscuit
Top Chef or Chopped? Top Chef
Street eats or sit-down? Sit-down
More time or more money? More time
Winter or summer? Summer