Cheese Expertise to be Recognised in the UK
A group of passionate individuals from the cheese industry have been working closely together over the past two years, to establish a professional accreditation programme for the cheese sector. Initiated by Mary Quicke from Devon based cheesemakers, Quicke's. Mary had watched how the Certified Cheese Professional (CCP) in America, elevated the role of those in the cheese supply chain. She wanted to see this happen in the UK. With the support of John Farrand and Jilly Sitch from the Guild of Fine Food plus Tracey Colley from Harvey & Brockless; Ros Windsor, Paxton & Whitfield; Charlie Turnbull, Turnbulls Cheesemongers and Clare Downes of Monkhouse Food & Drink - this is now happening and level one will be ready to sit and pass in spring 2017.
Identifying a need for cheese! This passion and belief was not enough if there was not a genuine need for the qualification. Stage one of this process, was to establish if the wider industry - from maker through to cheesemonger and chef, actually felt that they would benefit from a nationally recognised standard. Once research came back positively, the formation and funding of the Academy of Cheese, began. The development of the actual content and structure is now in progress; with level one and level two due to launch in the first six months of 2017. This will then be followed by level three. The ultimate, aspirational level four will be next in 2018; this will be the pinnacle of cheese expertise - a Master of Cheese.
Why cheese matters... Being an expert on cheese should matter - and with it will come respect, such as there is for a Master of Wine through the WSET programme. More cheese will be sold in better condition, if the people working with it fully understand their product and their industry. Achievement through the Academy will elevate the profession and make it a more attractive industry to be part of, where excellent people are retained. John Farrand, Guild of Fine Food explains; "The Academy of Cheese will bring a much-needed respect and direction to cheese professionals and to those who want to take their enjoyment of cheese to a different level. Through its ascending levels of learning and through the knowledge and contacts of those involved - a resource will exist that will inspire, educate and contribute to higher quality cheese being sold and enjoyed."
Business backing After two years of development, the Academy of Cheese, can only now be brought to life due to support from those businesses that have made a valued commitment to provide financial support, to go alongside the contribution of the original committee members. Patrons currently; Bradbury's, Tesco, Harvey & Brockless, Cropwell Bishop Creamery, Wyke Farms, Bridgehead Foods, Lincolnshire Poacher, Lynher Dairies and Stitchelton Dairy.
Bradburys Sourcing Director, Richard Paul, commented; "Bradburys are pleased to be sponsoring and be associated with the Academy of Cheese, having an industry wide skills-based qualification will help raise the standards of everyone in cheese - from sellers to graders to makers. Our business has a long association with passion and knowledge for cheese and helping to develop the next generation of 'experts' is essential for our industry."
Tesco's Category Buyer Manager for Cheese, Sam Watkins explained why they had joined in with their support; "Tesco has a long history of supporting the cheese industry and we recognise the quality, expertise and commitment of those who work within it. We are proud to offer customers a wide range of high quality and delicious tasting cheeses for any occasion. Which is why we're delighted to be the first major retailer to support the Academy.”
Tracey Colley, Exhibition Co‑Ordinator & Retail Account Manager at Harvey & Brockless outlined their reasons for support; "Our commitment to supporting artisan cheese makers with the promotion and distribution of their cheeses to numerous markets, has also led to a need for educating chefs and cheesemongers. This long awaited formal accreditation body for the UK will be an excellent opportunity to inspire and retain talented people who have a real passion for the wonderful world of cheese!"
Whether you are a cheesemaker, cheesemonger, chef, distributor or just an individual with a personal interest in cheese; you will now be able to learn more and attain a qualification with recognition. The Academy of Cheese has been created to ensure a strong future for cheese - so that traditional makers stay and new innovation keeps on coming. And - importantly, the consumer will really understand and appreciate what they are buying and tasting, wherever they are - from a cheeseboard at home to a selection on a train or aeroplane!