History & Mission

Anne Saxelby & Benoit Breal

Our Story

Anne Saxelby opened Saxelby Cheesemongers in 2006 in the historic Essex Street Market on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Saxelby studied fine art at NYU before discovering her love for the art of transforming milk into cheese. Saxelby's goal was (and is) to bridge the gap between local cheesemakers and cheese lovers, creating a company where the relationships with cheesemakers and with cheese-loving customers are paramount. In 2007, Saxelby was joined by Benoit Breal, a Frenchman with a passion for good cheese and a background in business and artisanal production by way of his family's textile business. Together, Saxelby and Breal have grown Saxelby Cheesemongers from a tiny stall in the Essex Street Market to include a booming wholesale and distribution business serving restaurants and retailers in New York City and across the country.

Essex Street Market

The Essex Street Market, New York City's most historic and authentic market, is a destination near and dear to Saxelby Cheesemongers. The community of small businesses, all owner-operated, is what inspired us to open a shop at the market, and what makes the market so unique. In a city where big real estate interests and corporate chains are ever encroaching, Essex Street Market is a throwback to another era when people developed relationships with their neighborhood shopkeepers and shopped every day for their food. It may sound old-fashioned, but those are the ties that have kept Saxelby Cheesemongers going strong in the market for over 10 years.

Saxelby Cheesemongers founder and co-owner Anne Saxelby is also the chair of the Essex Street Market Vendor Association, a merchant's association formed in 2013 to advocate for the market's vendors, and to provide support for marketing, promotion, programs, and community outreach at Essex.

History

Essex Street Market is New York City’s most authentic and historic public market. The market was built in 1940 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in an effort to ‘relocate’ (i.e. eradicate) the pushcart vendors that clogged the streets of the Lower East Side. The pushcarts symbolized the neighborhood in all of its melting pot glory - you could get just about anything (from groceries to socks) from the pushcarts, and the variety of food for sale was dizzying in it's array.

At its height, the market was home to 475 vendors in four buildings that spanned Essex Street from Broome Street to Stanton Street, making it the food focal point for one of the city’s most commercial neighborhoods. In the early years, most of the merchants in the market were Jewish and Italian. As the demographics of the Lower East Side began to change in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the merchant base shifted to Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants.

Essex Market is one of four remaining WPA-era public markets in New York City (La Marqueta in Harlem, the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the Bronx, and The Moore Street Market in Bushwick Brooklyn). In its 75 years of operation, the market has been witness to an ever-changing Lower East Side, all the while providing fresh food in a bare bones, authentic way that hearkens to Old World marketplaces. The Essex Street Market will be moving to a new home (just across Delancey Street!) in 2018, but will be open for business continuously throughout the transition.

We encourage you to make a trip over to the market to see what’s new (and enjoy what’s old!) at New York's original market!

Photo Credits: Anne Saxelby & Benoit Breal by C. Bay Milin.