James Grant, No2 Pound Street: “Championing farmhouse Cheddar”

06 July 2023, 08:40 AM
  • James Grant, owner of No2 Pound Street, shares how his Great British Cheddar Challenge aims to change the way people view traditional Cheddar
James Grant, No2 Pound Street: “Championing farmhouse Cheddar”

Cheddar cheese’s roots go back to the 12th century. The name Cheddar does not have a Protected Designated Origin. This means that Cheddar can be produced all over the world.

West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, however, does have a PDO and is really a labour of love. There are many exceptional examples of artisan farmhouse Cheddar throughout the UK.

Sadly, most Cheddar is industrially produced, with some factories producing 200 tonnes a day. This is more than most artisan makers produce in a year – now there’s food for thought.

Over the past few years cheese has become very hip. In fact there are a lot more super cool beards, cheese-inspired tattoos, hipster haircuts and fashionably-clad cheesemongers and cheesemakers out there. It is a brilliant time to be involved in the cheese business. What are you waiting for!

To be cool with cheese means knowing your field well. You’ll need to know how cheese is affected by where it is made. Well, it is a combination of the cow’s lactation cycle, breed of cow, location, feed, animal welfare and biome in which the cheese is matured or ripened in.

These factors all bring amazing flavour and subtle nuances to the final product. The subtle flavours are finally now being talked about with newfound
confidence. So why are we getting so cool at cheese? To start, we now have an Academy of Cheese.

When I talk to people about this they get very excited. “Really? An Academy of Cheese? That is so awesome… how do I join?”

There are more magazines that feature cheese regularly and all are available at the click of a button. We now have celebrities championing cheese. Jamie Oliver made a lot of noise during lockdown about artisan producers. Brian Turner was recently involved with The Virtual Cheese Awards. Comedian and chat show personality Marcus Brigstocke has judged at The World Cheese Awards on numerous occasions.

In our towns and villages we are seeing more independents championing artisan cheese. In recent years the popularity of local cheese and wine tasting has risen. Learning about cheese is both fun and informative. Your customers really want to understand their food. This helps people make informed decisions to help buy tastier, better for you, ethical and sustainable food.

To bring cheese to the forefront of everyone’s mind this year, No2 Pound Street will launch The Great British Cheddar Tasting. Why am I doing this? There are a few reasons here and all good I think. Firstly, I want to help open people’s palates to the fabulous taste of Farmhouse Cheddar. Well over 360 metric tonnes of Cheddar was produced in 2022, most of which was industrially made.

When most households place their grocery order, standard block Cheddar is the choice. I want to be able to champion Farmhouse Cheddar to the masses and show how different this is when compared to the cheaper alternative. Indeed, our food budgets are pretty tight at the moment. The rich keep getting richer whilst we struggle to pay the mortgage and feed our families.

Am I mad suggesting buying a better Cheddar? If it tastes better, is better for you and we do not need to use as much because of its quality, then why not? Join me on 8th September with host Marcus Brigstocke, cheese celebrities and friends for The Great British Cheddar Tasting. For those of you selling cheese this is an opportunity to engage your community.

Get in touch with No2 Pound Street to find out how to be part of the largest online blind tasting of Farmhouse Cheddar.

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