The UK’s specialist cheese community comes together to urge the public to ‘support small cheesemakers’ during the COVID-19 lockdown. Promising a cheese festival like no other taking place throughout the Early May bank holiday weekend, this three-day online event will have something for everyone, from kids to fully-fledged curd nerds.
Organised by the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA), the Academy of Cheese, the Guild of Fine Food and cheese writer Patrick McGuigan, the British Cheese Weekender will invite cheese lovers to stock up on artisan cheese in the lead-up to the festival, so they can get the full sensory experience. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the crisis that threatens to wipe out the previously thriving speciality cheese industry and help shoppers connect with those selling it, via a brand new directory on the SCA website.
Generating a truckle-load of positivity throughout the cheese world, from speciality cheesemakers to the independents which stock them and the consumers who support them, the festival will be free, fun, educational and downright delicious. The line-up kicks off with a kids’ cheese tasting session presented by Sam Wilkin (AKA Cellarman Sam), with other highlights including farm tours at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk and former World Cheese Awards champion, Lynher Dairies in Cornwall, a guided tasting on Instagram Live from Quicke’s in Devon, a behind-the-scenes tour of Neal’s Yard Dairy and a Fondue Night cook-along with The Cheese Bar’s Mathew Carver.
This unprecedented peek behind the rind of artisan cheese will also feature a History of British Cheese in 30 minutes with author and cheesemonger, Ned Palmer, deep dives into pairing, raw milk, sheep’s milk and blue cheese and a Cheese Question Time on Saturday night with some of the country’s top experts. Cheese fans will be able to put their knowledge to the test during Paxton & Whitfield’s Cheese Pub Quiz and the weekend will be signed off with a presentation from the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA), the Academy of Cheese, the Guild of Fine Food and Patrick McGuigan.
Said Tracey Colley, director of the Academy of Cheese: “We are absolutely thrilled to see how many experts from across our industry have wanted to take part in the British Cheese Weekender, from cheesemakers to cheese distributors we now have a multitude of virtual cheese events for everyone to join in with. The Academy of Cheese community of over 2,000 members are busy planning where to buy cheese for the weekend and with so many fantastic artisan cheeses now available for direct delivery they are very excited!”
Added Catherine Mead, chair of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association: “There has been a remarkable response from the public to the crisis facing small cheesemakers in Britain. More and more people are buying farmhouse and artisan cheese direct from producers and independent retailers, which has been really heartening. But the future of the industry is still far from certain. Small cheesemakers have lost so many orders due to the closure of restaurants, pubs and farmers markets that continued public support is essential if they are going to survive.”
Patrick McGuigan, cheese writer and co-founder of British Cheese Weekender, said: “The British Cheese Weekender is about supporting small, family businesses that need our help, but it’s also about having a bit of fun during the lockdown. And there aren’t many better ways to spend a bank holiday weekend than by eating good cheese. All you have to do is buy some cheese from a small cheesemaker or indie retailer, tune into one of the free online talks and then eat along with the experts.”
Commented John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food: “Hats off to the speciality cheese world for coming together in such style. Faced with a desperate situation, these guardians of our nation’s cheese heritage are stepping up to the mark to protect the industry for future generations, while working overtime to save their businesses. We’ve got more reasons to be proud of our cheesemakers than ever before, but best of all for cheese lovers, all they have to do to support these folk is to seek out some top notch British artisan cheese and get ready to be inspired.”
The British Cheese Weekender will take place from Friday 8 to Sunday 10 May, running from 3pm until 10pm each day. For more visit http://www.academyofcheese.org/british-cheese-weekender