Millie’s Destiny to become Doctor of Cheese
Millie Preece has a thirst for knowledge. Currently studying towards a PHD in Cheese at Harper Adams University, Millie, a farmer’s daughter from Much Wenlock, Shropshire, loves to learn.
Photo Credit: Shropshire Star
Having already completed a degree in Food & Consumer Studies, also at Harper Adams, and her Academy of Cheese Level One Certification, she now has her sights set on the Academy’s Level Two and Three certifications, facilitated by the grant.
It’s certainly not a case of all style and no substance with Millie, however, as our youngest grant awardee at just 26 years of age, she already has her own cheesemaking business, “The Dairy Door”, which she operates from a shipping container at the bottom of her garden.
The shipping container wasn’t always there. Neither was cheesemaking as an intended pathway. One thing was certain, however, as a self-proclaimed “foodie”, Millie knew she wanted to work in some capacity with food. Originally, she thought she would follow her family into the meat industry (her parents are beef and sheep farmers). That changed after her long university summer holidays led her to apply for the position as a cheesemaker’s assistant at Mr Moyden’s, not far from home in Market Drayton. These summer stints with the well-respected cheesemaker opened her eyes to cheese, having learnt a lot from owner, Martin Moyden.
From Christmas Pudding to Cheese
Millie had always wanted to set up a kitchen-table business, taking inspiration from her mum’s venture into making and selling Christmas puddings at the local market. A relative in Somerset with a goat farm invited Millie to spend some time there, which piqued her interest, so she made it her mission during the pandemic to “have a go” with different varieties, just on their kitchen hob with goat milk bought from local friends. Using the knowledge gained at Moyden’s, backed up with her theory from Uni, she tried her hand at Gouda, Cheddar, Brie, Wensleydale and Halloumi. It was the Brie that became an instant hit with friends, during their “rule of six” meetups in the park, spurring her on to take her cheesemaking further.
The Dairy Door
At the end of August 2021, she purchased the shipping container, converted it into a cheese room and got it successfully inspected by the EHO. The Dairy Door was up and running by January 2022.
Since then, she has created and regularly makes two cow’s milk cheeses: St Barties, the brie-style that wowed her friends, (apparently very good baked and drizzled with golden syrup!) and Harley, a halloumi-style. She is also in the process of developing a Gouda-style and wants to focus her grant money on perfecting another hard cheese.
Anyone for Cheese Balls?
Once Millie starts to think of her cheesemaking future, she sees no bounds. The gifting market is one area she would like to explore; believing people would much prefer a box of soft cheese balls as a host gift rather than a box of chocolates.
Having particularly liked learning about pairings in her Level One course and, inspired by a recent visit to Pick and Cheese, Millie is looking forward to expanding her knowledge in this area with the Academy Courses. And there’s not long to wait, as Millie will be returning to Harper Adams University this July, where she will be taking the Academy’s Level Two course with hands-on cheesemaking.
Millie is pragmatic, wanting to concentrate on her PHD studies, and plans on only supplying her cheese to local cheesemongers within Shropshire to begin with. Her current output is one make per week but would look to increase that to two. Only once her volume has increased sufficiently will she extend her sights towards London.
In our interview, Millie mentioned that her dissertation paper was on cheese and emotions; looking at the sensory attributes of different varieties of cheese and how they made you feel. Her conclusion was that all cheese makes you happy. And on that note, we’ll leave it there!
Rachel Holding | Academy of Cheese Writer
Rachel loves a good cheese and wine session. Her love of all cheeses, artisanal or otherwise, has grown from her early years of working on the cheese counter at Fortnum & Mason. She has a personal mission to taste as many cheeses as possible and to encourage this passion in others.