Pam and I started Gimblett Cheese in 2012. On a holiday in Normandy, when visiting the region’s finest Livarot producer, we discovered you didn’t need to own cows to make cheese. The creators of this pungent, washed-rind, delicacy buy milk from small dedicated farms who produce high quality, cheese-grade, milk for the creamery.
We had been serving cheese at Taste of the Vine (our event company) occasions for years, so, delighted at discovering we were qualified to become cheesemakers despite not being farmers, we set about making cheese. A fan of washed-rinds, we came up with Floyd, based on a recipe we developed after visiting a cheesemaking monk at Cîteaux Abbey, home of the Cistercian order, the chaps who originated in the style in the Middle ages.
Our experiences in setting up the company made me think the British artisan cheese industry is missing an opportunity. Whilst there are rich sources of information on cheesemaking, and quarters where assistance can be gained in aspects of production, there was little beyond goodwill to assist the aspiring cheesemaker in business matters pertaining to the industry. Also, due to the difficulties we faced in finding high quality, cheese-grade, milk for Floyd, we realised that the opportunities for new cheesemakers in Britain were fast diminishing due to the loss of our small breeds, herds and dairies.
During my research interviews for the Guide to the Best of British Cheeses, the topic of the future of the struggling artisan industry was ever-present; so, the idea for the Campaign for British Artisan Cheese was formed.
I hope you will enjoy the guide. Moreover, I hope you might cast an eye across the Campaign’s aims and assist, be it by: encouraging a farmer looking to diversify to get in touch, prompting your chef friend that a career as a cheesemaker might appeal, or simply by selecting a British cheese from a named, small producer whose animal welfare can be traced. If you do, you’ll be a part of shaping the country’s heritage for future generations.