LYNDHURST, N.J. — Most people don’t associate “mozzarella” with “insurance" — but for Vincent Morelli of Lyndhurst, the two go hand in hand.
Morelli is a regional coordinator for Aflac Insurance and has embarked on a culinary journey creating award-winning fresh mozzarella.
“Vinnie’s Mootz,” as he affectionately calls his gastric delight, is made by hand and sold at Corrado’s Market in North Arlington.
“I love helping people with their insurance needs through my position at Aflac, but I gotta tell you that I get a real kick out of when people stop me and express how much they love my mootz," said Morelli.
Morelli's fresh mozzarella was chosen as the top homemade recipe in the January 2016 Hoboken Mutzfest.
He says he got it from his mama.
The Bergen County boy spent summers with his family in Caserta, Italy, where he spent time in the company of his mother, Vittoria; carefully watching her prep the simple ingredients used in making fresh mozzarella.
“I think I was about 6 or 7 when I first starting paying attention to the process of cheese making," said Morelli, born and raised in Carlstadt and Hackensack.
"I noticed that my mother had a certain order of doing things, and everything had to be ‘just right’.
"She didn’t measure things, but the temperatures had to be perfect."
Little Vinnie took note, and by 12, he began helping out in the kitchen.
With his kitchen towel tossed over his shoulder like Vittoria, Morelli starting developing his own fresh mozzarella by carefully blending the ingredients, changing the water, adding the salt—just like his mother had shown him.
As each batch came and went, his skills improved.
“I used to test my dad, Teodosio, by letting him taste the cheese and asking him to guess if it was my mine or my mother’s," he said.
"After awhile he couldn’t tell the difference. That’s when I knew it was good," Morelli said.
He never lost his zest for making homemade mozzarella through.
“I love to feed people and see them enjoy my food," Morelli said. I guess that comes from my mom."
After marrying his wife, Denise, and having his two boys, he started as an Aflac Insurance agent, working his way up to his current position as Regional Coordinator.
All the while, he made fresh mozzarella and shared it to the delight of their friends and family.
Word of his delicious homemade fresh mozzarella travelled quickly, and Morelli was asked to create some for Corrado’s Market.
On Sunday mornings, Morelli makes massive batches of "mootz" at their North Arlington location. Free samples and shrink-wrapped portions are flying off of the shelves.
And mootz fans come in all varieties.
Morelli's mom has since passed on, but making cheese brings fond memories back instantaneously, he said.
His boys are learning to make it, too.
"It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes."
So where does this upbeat insurance executive by day, mootz-maker by night see himself in 5 years?
“Hopefully, working my way across the country," he said, "and sharing my mootz."
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