My passion for cheese began in 1988 when, aged 16, I secured a Saturday job in a well renowned cheesemongers and affineurs, called James’s of Beckenham. The owner of the shop was James Aldridge. When James sold the shop in 1989, I took a full-time position with the new owners and continued to work in the retail side of the business.
I left in 1990 and went to work for a cheese wholesaler in London, called Harvey and Brockless. I stayed there for a year before being asked by James Aldridge to join him in the production of Tornegus which was, by now, a regular on most wholesalers and retailers stock lists.
During the years I worked with James, many other washed rind cheeses came and went; Maral, Golden Saye, Jacobstowe amongst others. He selflessly made batches of cheese on a trial basis to help fellow cheesemakers develop recipes and improve their maturation knowledge. James was a perfectionist and paid great attention to detail, he could walk into a maturing room and know exactly what treatment each cheese needed. He taught me everything I know.
I worked alongside James until 2001, when sadly he died leaving his partner Patricia Robinson to continue the business. I continued working with Pat until an opportunity arose at Daylesford Organic to become head cheesemaker in 2006.
At Daylesford I made their award winning cheddar and Penyston, and also developed several new cheeses including Adlestrop, Double and Single Gloucester, using the milk from their own herd of Gloucester cows.
In 2009, I was approached by Cranborne Chase Cheese and moved my family down to the beautiful Dorset countryside. Since the decision was made to cease cheesemaking at Cranborne Chase Cheese, I decided to focus on my passion and concentrate on affinage, utilising the knowledge I have gained over the years, to develop my washed rind cheeses.
I have been working with Mike Smales and Paul Thomas at Lyburn Cheese and Alison French at Chalke Valley Cheese and together we have developed a new and exciting range of British washed rind cheeses. These cheeses are made at Lyburn and Chalke Valley dairies and matured in my specialised washed rind maturing room in Child Okeford, Dorset.