A few months ago we published our first Temple of Cheese interview, for which we put questions to a man who shall remain nameless about a rather hellish experience he had working in a cheese factory in the late 1990s.
The feature proved popular with those of you who read this blog – so much so that we’ve decided to try and keep doing them as a semi-regular feature.
Today we’re pleased to bring you another Q&A – this time with no lesser mortal than Nicola Beardmore, who was recently crowned Britain’s Young Cheesemonger of the Year!
Nicola is 23 and has worked for some time as a deli supervisor at Brown and Green – an artisan food store located in Trentham, just outside of Stoke-on-Trent.
Here’s what she had to say…
How did you come to work in the world of cheese… and was it something you always wanted to do, or did you just drift into it?
The job I applied for was actually shop floor based, but I was told in the interview that it would now be for the deli as the deli manager was leaving. I got the job and on the first day I stood and looked at the cheese somewhat intimidated.
What’s a typical week like in your job (if there is such a thing)?
Every week is totally different. I’ve always got new ideas. I always put tasters out and I’ve started properly pairing my tasters now. It’s a bit better than just giving people cheese on a stick to try.
How did the whole Young Cheesemonger of the Year’ award come about, and how did it feel to win?
Young Cheesemonger of the Year is a competition that has only been running for three years so it’s still fairly new. You have to apply for it and then if you become a finalist you have to battle it out at the British Cheese Awards through various rounds. I applied last year and became a finalist, but unfortunately didn’t even place in the top three. I applied again though this year and here we are! Winning was absolutely amazing, and I’ve had so many opportunities since it’s happened.
Where would you like to see your career going over the next five or ten years?
In 5 years’ time I’ll be sitting in the Parmesan caves! In 10 years I have absolutely no idea, but I’ll have probably eaten 500 times my body weight in cheese!
If you could teach the masses one thing about cheese that folk don’t generally know, what would that be?
I’d teach them what a special product it is. I have people coming in and asking for ‘normal’ cheese – but no cheese I sell is normal! It never will be as it’s handmade with love and care. There’s thousands and thousands of cheeses in the world – it’s a ridiculously exciting thing.
Which four cheeses could you not live without?
That’s really tough! Montgomery’s Cheddar and Gruyere are no brainers – they are my absolute favourite cheeses. Plus Sheep Rustler – not one that I sell, but I did have the honour of judging it supreme champion at the British Cheese Awards this year. It’s a superb cheese. I actually spent some time down in Somerset with White Lake, the company who produce Sheep Rustler, and even got to milk some of their goats. So there’s a lot of memories associated with that cheese too. Finally, my fourth choice would be Sparkenhoe Blue, it’s a brand new cheese and it’s so lovely. It’s not what I expected but it’s amazing!