Affineur of the Year 2024: Judging Panel

Meet The Judges

An award is only worth something if the people giving it out are accredited experts. We’ve gathered a respected bunch of cheese industry experts from a variety of different backgrounds to act as our judges. Let’s meet them.


Patrick McGuigan

Svein Erik Backlund

Mathew Carver

Kanako Mathys

Catherine Mead

Iain Mellis
Patricia Michelson

Sue Sturman

Perry James Wakeman


Head Judge: Patrick McGuigan

Food Journalist, cheese writer & Academy of Cheese Training Partner

Patrick McGuigan is a UK-based cheese writer and teacher. He writes extensively on the subject for national newspapers and magazines, as well as appearing on radio and TV shows. 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.


Svein Erik Backlund

Sales Manager, Oluf Lorentzen

Svein Erik has worked for Oluf Lorentzen for 24 years and has an extensive knowledge of cheese.  He is a Member and Training Partner of the Academy of Cheese.  Svein Erik trains all the major retails in Norway, as well as his own team, and is involved in selecting which cheese will be presented to the Norwegian market.


Mathew Carver

Owner / Proprietor, The Cheese Bar Restaurants, London

Mathew Carver founded The Cheese Truck in 2014, selling grilled cheese sandwiches to festival goers at Glastonbury from a bright yellow 1970’s Bedford ice cream van. He has gone on to become a well-respected and vocal advocate for British cheese, opening three cheese restaurants in London – The Cheese Bar, The Cheese Barge and the world’s first conveyor belt of cheese at Pick & Cheese, as well as his latest restaurant, Rind, at The Courtyard Dairy in Lancashire. He also judges at the World Cheese Awards, British Cheese Awards and Young Cheesemonger of the Year and recently published his first book The Cheese Life.  


Kanako Mathys

Founder, Culture & Culture

Founder of Culture & Culture, one of the original Academy of Cheese Training Partners, and only Japanese Training Partner. Judges at the World Cheese Awards and British Cheese Awards, Japanese writer and translator specialised in the artisan cheese sector. Originally from Japan, Kanako established “Culture & Culture” as a business providing communication services in the artisan cheese sector. She was accredited as an Academy Training Partner in 2018, and has adapted the Academy’s training content into the Japanese language to introduce the Japanese public to the world of European artisan cheese. Published author of the first ever Japanese language book on British cheeses.


Catherine Mead

Owner, Lynher Dairies, producer of Cornish Yarg and Cornish Kern, member of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association committee. 

Catherine has been making Cornish Yarg for nearly 30 years and more recently Cornish Kern, winner of the World Cheese Awards. Catherine judges at the World Cheese awards, the British Cheese Awards and the Royal Highland Show and up until recently, held the position of Chair at the Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association.



Iain Mellis

Founder / Director, Mellis Cheese

Iain Mellis has been working in the world of cheese for 45 years. His vast experience has been varied from laboratory technician, to senior cheesemaking positions in both factories and farms alike. From then, he was inspired to create his own company and since 1993 is now Director of Mellis cheese in Scotland.

This is now very much a family run business with 5 specialist cheese shops and has a significant wholesale side of the business, maturing and supplying restaurants and delicatessens throughout the UK as well as having ventured into the export market more recently.



Patricia Michelson

Founder / Director, La Fromagerie

Founder of La Fromagerie since 1991, Patricia has over 33 years experience in the world of cheese. Mastering the art of affinage with some of the finest cheesemakers and Masters of Cheese, she has honed her skills over the years in the way La Fromagerie approach cheesemongering.  Her love and respect for the land, the animal and all the elements that surround cheesemaking and the finished product come from not just reading books and instructions, but also using hands, eyes, sense of smell and taste and even sound. Affinage is a Science and an Art and Taste! 


Sue Sturman

Founder of Makers & Mongers, Consultant with MonsFormation

With 30 years’ experience in cheese education; Sue’s Paris-based business, Makers & Mongers, is dedicated to educating and connecting cheese professionals around the world.  As well as teaching professional retailing and affinage courses with MonsFormation since 2012, she has served as translator for Profession Fromager publications since 2018 and led the team that produced the Certified Cheese Professional® exam at the American Cheese Society, whilst also serving on its Board of Directors.  She teaches sensory analysis and judging, and consults on the development of cheese competitions. As well as a Member of the Academy of Cheese, Sue has earned the Certified Cheese Professional®, Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator® designations, as well as Maître Fromager by the Guilde International des Fromagers.


Perry James Wakeman

CEO, Rennet & Rind, Affineur of Year 2022 & 2023

Perry James Wakeman leads Rennet & Rind, a champion of British artisan cheese, with a dedicated maturing room in Cambridge and a newly opened shop in Stamford. As Britain’s first ever ‘Affineur of the Year’ and a recurring judge at the World Cheese Awards, Perry’s expertise ensures top-quality, matured British cheeses are enjoyed by all.