Cheese Experts.
The People Behind Our Courses.

Let’s meet the people whose knowledge, expertise and dedication drive the Academy training programmes.

content creation

Expert Contributors

Our course content is the result of collaborative efforts from a number of highly esteemed cheesemakers, academics, authors, mongers, affineurs and technical consultants; some already known for their respected contributions to cheese industry research and academia.

Their contributions not only validate their existing knowledge, but have also required extensive personal research and collaboration, demonstrating the Academy of Cheese’s commitment to inspiring continuous learning and growth.

All modules undergo a thorough review by expert panels, ensuring the highest quality of education for our delegates. It is worth noting that for some contributors, their work on these modules serves as their thesis for Level Four Certification, showcasing original research that advances knowledge within the industry.

OUR EXPERTS

The people who drive the Academy training programmes.

Cheese Expert Patrick McGuigan

Patrick McGuigan

Academy Trainer Cheese Judge Cheese Writer

Patrick McGuigan is a UK-based cheese writer and teacher, who has travelled from the Swiss Alps to the pastures of Vermont to meet the world’s best cheesemakers, maturers and cheesemongers.

He writes extensively on the subject for national newspapers and magazines, such as The Telegraph and delicious, and has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme. His first book, The Philosophy of Cheese, was published by The British Library in 2020. His second book, The Cheese Life, co-authored with Mathew Carver, was published by Kyle Books in 2023.

Patrick has been involved with the Academy of Cheese since it launched in 2017. He wrote the profiles of the 25 and 75 cheeses studied at Level One and Level Two, as well as dozens of the cheese profiles for Level Three, earning him the nickname ‘The Cheese Librarian’ in the process. He has taught the Academy of Cheese Level One and Two accreditations to well over 500 people, both in person and online. He also runs retail training courses at the Guild of Fine Food and hosts regular cheese talks and tastings for the trade, press and public. 

Other things to know about Patrick

He is a member of the Guilde des Fromagers, a long-standing ‘Super Jury’ judge at the World Cheese Awards and head judge at the Affineur of the Year competition. He has also co-founded several festivals, including the Big Cheese Weekender, the London Cheese Project and Brighton’s OctoberBEST restaurant festival. 
As well as cheese, he loves wine, achieving the WSET Level 3 wine qualification with Merit in 2021 and the French Wine Scholar accreditation with highest honours in 2023.

Cheese expert Charlie Turnbull holding a piece of Brie de Meaux

Charlie Turnbull

Academy Director Academy Trainer Cheese Judge Cheese Writer

Charlie Turnbull is a highly regarded cheese and artisan food expert based in Brighton, UK. His journey in the cheese industry is marked by over two decades of dedicated service and innovation. As the Managing Director of Turnbull & Turnbull Ltd since June 2003, Charlie has become a significant figure in the world of cheese, running his own cheesemongers, delicatessen, and bistro in Shaftesbury, Dorset, for 15 years. His establishment was known for its quality and became a cornerstone of the local community.

Charlie’s passion for cheese extends beyond retail; he has been instrumental in educating others about cheese. He has led the Guild of Fine Food’s cheese training team, training retailers across the country, and co-authored the Retail Ready business course. His commitment to the industry is further evident through his involvement with the Academy of Cheese, where he serves as a Director, helping to shape the curriculum and training the next generation of cheese aficionados.

Charlie, a founding director of the Academy of Cheese, has played a significant role in developing the Level One material and was instrumental in designing the Make Post-Make model and Tasting program. He is responsible for leading the Make Post-Make, and Tasting content at Level Two and Level Three as well as the Master of Cheese.

Charlie believes very strongly that cheese knowledge is for the uneducated lover of cheese as much as the educated lover of cheese or the cheese professional. He wants cheese knowledge to spread easily, to not use unnecessarily technical or elitist language, and to speak primarily of the enjoyment of cheese.

Cheese Expert Hero Hirsh

Hero Hirsh

Academy Trainer Cheese Judge Cheese Writer

With a lifelong passion for food, and a background as a pastry chef in some of London’s Michelin star restaurants, Hero had the ideal foundations for a career in one of the UK’s most prestigious cheesemongers, Paxton & Whitfield. After 15 years running the cheese counters in their four branches, she made a return to hospitality, managing the world’s first cheese conveyor belt restaurant, Pick & Cheese.

She is a regular judge at the World Cheese Awards having won their ‘Cheesemonger of the Year’ title in 2012.

Hero has worked as a training partner for the Academy of Cheese since its inception, delivering both Level One and Two courses to hundreds of delegates. A keen supporter of the Academy programme, she has contributed learning materials at levels One, Two and Three. 

“As soon as I saw the Level Three & Four standards, I knew I wanted to research and write the content on environmental impacts. It’s arguably one of the most important topics in cheese, and yet finding good information at the right level of detail was surprisingly difficult. I hope that this part of the Cheese Industry module will help act as a primer on the subject for those working in cheese and help them to be informed around sustainability when making sourcing decisions.”

Cheese Expert Katy Fenwick

Katy Fenwick

Academy Trainer Cheese Judge Cheese Writer

Katy is a specialist in cheese education, focusing on dairy science, technology, cheesemaking, and affinage. She is currently the Education Project Manager at the Academy of Cheese, a role she has held since May 2022. With a strong background in training and project management, Katy has honed her expertise over the years, contributing significantly to the field of cheese education. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and French at a professional working level.

Cheese Expert Ned Palmer

Ned Palmer

Cheese Judge Cheese Writer

Ned is the author of A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles published in 2019. The book was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller and was shortlisted for the André Simon and Fortnum and Mason food writing prizes. His second book A Cheesemonger’s Compendium of British and Irish Cheese, came out in 2021, and he is now working on a third – A Cheesemonger’s Tour of France which will be published in October 2024.

Ned’s cheese career began at Borough Market in December 2000. He joined Neal’s Yard Dairy in 2002 working on retail, wholesale and as an affineur, and travelling around the UK visiting cheesemakers. He has also worked for Mons UK on retail, wholesale and in the cellars. In 2014 Ned made a career shift to hosting cheese tastings, through his company The Cheese Tasting Co. When he is not talking or writing about cheese he still travels around the UK and Europe visiting farms and cheesemakers.

In terms of research and writing about cheese, my interests focus around the history of cheesemaking, in particular how that history is linked to the broader sweep of human history, I am also interested in the culture of cheesemaking, both historical and contemporary, and how that specific culture is sited in the wider culture of any given cheesemaking nation.

Other things to know about Ned

The current global history of cheese module is quite Eurocentric, largely because the major developments in cheesemaking – after its inception in Southwest Asia – happened in Europe. There is a rich history of indigenous cheesemaking still to be explored in China, Central Asia and the continent of Africa, and more work to be done on the contemporary influence of European cheesemaking culture in non-European countries, both those with a history of cheesemaking or dairying and those without.

Cheese Expert Noémie Richard-Stein

Noémie Richard-Stein

Academy Trainer Cheese Judge

Noémie is “Maître Fromager” of the International Cheese Guilde and an internationally leading figure in the cheese industry. She comes from the French Alpes, a region known for its cheese tradition. After studying Cheese making in Canada and Argentina, Noemie graduated as a food engineer in 2011. 

She first spent two years working in a cheese factory in Chile and built in 2013 “L’École du Fromage” (cheese school), which spread across Peru, Colombia and Argentina, training over 3,000 gastronomy professionals across the continent. 

Her School of Cheese was sought after in the UK, which led to her moving to London in 2018 and getting involved as a Training Partner for the Academy of Cheese. Noémie has trained hundreds of professionals towards Level One or Two certification and is contributing to the content development with the Academy team. 

Today she leads her cheese education mission in Europe through her role as Head of Cheese Education for the French cheese company Savencia, the continental cheese specialists. 

Noémie is also a judge in many international competitions, including the ‘Mondial du fromage’ and ‘British Cheese Awards’. She acquired the role of “Super Jury” in the World Cheese Awards 2022 in Wales.

“Cheese is a noble product that started from the land and passed by professional hands of cheesemaker and affineur to be enjoyed at his best! When it comes to use it in Gastronomy it is important to understand the cheese technology and connect the world of the Chef with the Cheese expertise. The module on Gastronomy for Level 3 learning road is offering a complete overview of the fundamental knowledge on cheese functionality. It should allow the makers to refine their techniques to match the expectations of the Chefs that can also refine their recipes thanks to this module.”

Cheese Expert Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas

Consultant Cheese Writer

Paul Thomas is a freelance technical consultant specialising in dairy technology and food safety. As a training provider has delivered courses and webinars on behalf of the School of Artisan Food, River Cottage, Food Centre Wales and Food Technology Centre Wales, Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and Dairy Australia. He was one of the co-authors of the European Guide to Good Hygiene Practices in the Production of Artisan Cheese and Dairy Products for the European Commission DG Health & Food Safety and has contributed articles on food safety and cheesemaking to several publications. His book, Home-made Cheese was published by Lorenz Books in 2016.

Paul project-managed the initial development of the standards and learning outcomes for the Academy of Cheese.

Cheese Expert Ros Windsor

Ros Windsor

Academy Director Cheese Judge Consultant

Ros is one of the founding Directors of the Academy of Cheese.  For nearly 20 years, Ros was the Managing Director of Paxton & Whitfield, a London institution that was the country’s, and arguably the world’s, oldest cheesemonger.   With customers including the British monarchy, the expertise and skills of the staff had always been one of her priorities.   The Academy of Cheese enabled her to bring together two of her areas of expertise – cheese and business training, the latter of which she had obtained as an accountant and trainer at PwC before her time at Paxtons.

Currently, Ros, a seasoned fine food/retail consultant, leads the team that is shaping the Academy’s Learning Roads.  Her extensive experience with Paxton & Whitfield and her consultancy clients has been instrumental in the creation of the Presenting and Serving module, a testament to her profound influence and impact in the industry.

“Paxtons would not have stayed in business for over 225 years without a continual focus on outstanding standards of presentation and serving.  I hope this module gives learners a range of tips and techniques for their sales environments and helps them understand why these things are so important for the success of their business.”

Cheese Expert Sam Wilkin

Sam Wilkin

Cheese Judge Cheese Writer Consultant

Sam Wilkin is the founder of Cellarman Makes, based in London, UK, where he has been leading content production and creative direction for small-scale food and farming businesses since July 2021. He is also the founder of Cellarman Sam, advocating for small-scale food and farming businesses since September 2017. Additionally, Sam co-founded The Equilibrium, an arts company focused on gender equality, in October 2013. Previously, he served as the Head of Cheese at Pick and Cheese/The Cheese Bar and worked with Buchanans Cheesemonger in various roles.

Cheese Expert Sarah de Wit

Sarah de Wit

Cheese Judge Cheese Writer

Sarah is genuinely passionate about her work in the food and drink industry. She has enjoyed the past 30 years building a successful career in food manufacture, major retail, and now her own consultancy business. Eighteen years of which Sarah worked at Asda Stores Ltd, managing the supply base of food manufacturers/dairies of all sizes. She held many roles focusing on technical & food safety, quality & new product development management, primarily in dairy.  Learning and developing her cheesemaking knowledge was the turning point in Sarah’s career focus.  For over 28 years, she managed product development & technical functions within the cheese and dairy category, judging at cheese shows up and down the country.

“Working with the Academy  of Cheese  to write the Regulation and Good Practice (HACCP & Food security) module served as a challenging but great experience enabling me to document my technical knowledge for students of Level Three cheese certification.  This was no easy feat for a technical scientist & non- experienced writer!

From this section,  students will gain a good understanding of  how food safety risks are assessed and managed by HACCP and other systems used across the world, whilst at the same time being made aware of the increasing food fraud which is undertaken and what to look for.  The section encourages students to explore Specialist Cheese Associations & groups across the world which produce advice and codes of practice and advice for supporting and advising cheese makers across the world, as well as assessing whether accreditation is an appropriate investment  for their business.”

In 2020, Sarah co-founded the Virtual Cheese Awards. These awards offer a point of difference in that the judges are connected online & can give verbal & visual feedback directly to the cheese maker. 
The Virtual Cheese Awards operate on a rigorous and transparent judging process. The judges meticulously assess the cheeses for various attributes, and all the judging sessions are recorded. The final event, a live online gathering, is hosted by the esteemed broadcaster Nigel Barden.  This unique setup allows the cheesemakers to receive expert feedback and witness the judging process, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement in the industry. 

Cheese Expert Sue Sturman

Sue Sturman

Cheese Educator Cheese Judge Cheese Writer Consultant

Sue has over 25 years in cheese education. Her Paris-based business, Makers & Mongers, is dedicated to connecting cheese professionals. She has taught retailing and affinage courses to cheese professionals in English with MonsFormation since 2012, training students from over 40 countries.

Translator for Profession Fromager magazine and technical books since 2018, she has contributed articles to Cheese Connoisseur, Profession Fromager, Le Courrier des Fromagers, and to the Oxford Companion to Cheese, and wrote the 2023 edition of Le Lexique Anglais du Fromager.

She led the team that produced the Certified Cheese Professional® exam at the American Cheese Society, and served on their Board of Directors. 

She has been a sponsor of and contributed to developing study materials for the Academy of Cheese.

She is an active judge at cheese and cheesemonger competitions around the world, and offers sensory analysis and judge training to cheese professionals.

Sue has earned the Certified Cheese Professional®, Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator® designations and is a Member of the Academy of Cheese, and has been designated a Maître Fromager by the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers. 

“In my 30 years teaching about cheese, and especially working with cheese professionals, I am excited to see the enormous progress that has been made with the development of the ACS certification programs (CCP (R) and CCSE (R) and the Academy of Cheese. I have had students from both programs in my courses and their dedication and thirst for knowledge, skills, and excellence are unsurpassed. It is deeply gratifying to have a small role in contributing to cheese professionals’ success, and in elevating the care and appreciation of fine cheese.”

How do we review contributions? Keep reading.

Review process

How do the reviews work?

Each contribution is sent to a small panel of reviewers with specialist knowledge in the field. Each panel is different according to the module and contains a balance of experts from different areas. Some are from the cheese industry such as Savencia sensory analysis expert Philippe Dumain; some are experts in adjacent fields such as Iain Colin Prentice (Chair of Biosphere and Climate Impacts and Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society Imperial College London), and some straddle both worlds, such as American cheesemonger and historian Gordan Edgar.  

Industry advice

We also seek advice from industry leaders across the world to ensure each module is globally relevant as far as is possible.

Learning roads

In addition to reviewing the subject matter, each contribution is then turned into Learning Road material with contributors working alongside our Education Team to make the content accessible to our delegates and ensuring they are sufficiently tested in the final exam.