Sometimes the Best Ideas Start With a Problem

Preya Had a Problem… and Found a Great Solution!

Written by Gayle

Preya+Patel, Elli+Quark
photo courtesy of Preya Patel Bhakta
Preya Patel Bhakta grew up in Bakersfield, and even went to college there.  She earned a degree in Advertising, and life was good.  About three years ago she had just married, and she and her husband Sachin considered themselves Foodies.  They loved to cook and enjoy great food.  But they started gaining weight!  So they consulted a nutritionist, who laid out a plan for them.  He included a lot of cottage cheese and yogurt for protein, but soon they tired of those protein sources.  They were high in sodium and fat, and Greek yogurt was too tart--or had too much sugar.  

Preya had grown up with her mom's homemade Indian-style yogurt, so she was familiar with the process of making yogurts and cheeses.  She started experimenting making her own smooth high-protein, low-sodium, better tasting product.  She came up with a yogurt-like cheese that she really liked, but it was taking so much time and effort.  She researched online and found a cheese very much like what she had been making herself.  It is called Quark, and it is common in Europe, especially Germany.  

Elli+Quark
photo courtesy of Preya Patel Bhakta
So Preya and Sachin threw caution (and their honeymoon fund) to the wind and flew to Germany.  They went to the markets and came back to their hotel with sample after sample of Quark.  They found the flavors and qualities that they liked the best, and then learned how it was made by touring manufacturing facilities and talking to lots of producers.  They learned more about this versatile cheese.  Quark originated centuries ago, and takes 4-5 times longer to make than yogurt.  It is a sensitive product--a single degree temperature change will make a big difference in the finished product.  The machinery is very specific and not readily available in the United States.  Quark is not cooked.  It develops naturally and slowly. 

On the flight home they came up with a business plan, and Elli Quark was born.

Elli+Quark
photo courtesy of Preya Patel Bhakta
Quark has a very mild flavor--not salty or bland, not sweet or tart.  It can be used like yogurt or cottage cheese, but doesn't overwhelm other flavors.  Because it is not as tart as Greek yogurt, it takes very little sweetener.  It is high in protein, is non-fat, but tastes creamy.  It is a fresh cheese, not a yogurt, so it is denser.  Quark has natural probiotics, which remain active since there is no added sugar, even in the flavored varieties.  (Preya uses a Stevia blend, which is not overwhelming.)

Elli+Quark
photo courtesy of Preya Patel Bhakta
You can use plain Quark as you would sour cream or ricotta (as in lasagne or dips or dressings).  You can use Quark instead of cream cheese on a bagel or with vegetables.  The flavored varieties are great by themselves (we love the lemon flavor at my house!), with granola or fruit (or both!)  

But Elli Quark didn't just magically appear on the store shelves.  Preya has worked hard and overcome lots of obstacles in bringing Quark to America.  Getting the equipment was one of the big challenges that they had to overcome.  But they had some great help from the German Engineers that they met.  

Elli+Quark
photo courtesy of Preya Patel Bhakta
Elli Quark is now sold in 44 states, and Preya hopes to keep expanding the reach of this healthy and nutritious product.  She is developing several new flavors that will be on the shelves this summer.  

Elli+Quark
photo courtesy of Preya Patel Bhakta
Elli Quark is now a staple at our house.  We love the flavor and the solid nutrition of this delicious German Style Quark!  

Thanks, Preya, for bringing a taste of Germany to our shelves!

Love,

Lassen's