#TNCN 16 with Charlie Turnbull. Charlie and his guests discuss the first ever Virtual Cheese Awards. Special Guest and Best British Cheese Awards winner Marcus Ferguson will be tasting his winning cheese Renegade Monk with Charlie and the VCA organising team.
BROADCAST ON 21st July 2020 – 8.00PM
Virtual Cheese Awards Episode Video Transcript
Right everybody, it is the last the last episode of Tuesday Night is Cheese Night before we break for the summer and we have an absolutely awesome event for you tonight.
We are talking the best cheese in britain this year which is so exciting uh there is probably going to be no more cheese awards we might get the british cheese awards later in the year we might get the world cheese awards but right here right now in covert rules we’ve got the virtual cheese awards they have spent the last week sending cheeses all around the country all sorts of different judges who are holed up in their back bedrooms no doubt their husbands and wives have been absolutely loving the fact they’ve been invaded by 45 cheeses which they’ve got a taste and we have the results which is absolutely fantastic and i’m not going to tell you which one in one of you don’t know already this is that look away now moment because we’ve got them on in about 10 minutes we have the winners who are going to be super excited um they know it already so it’s like not a surprise they found out on saturday and we’ll show you the cheese and we’re going to taste it so before we do that it’s time to meet sarah dewitt who has been the mastermind and the energy behind the virtual cheese uh awards along with nigel pulley and we are going to get her now so sarah are you there come on come on in i am here hello thank you very much for inviting us yeah we’re very good thank you i mean have you had any sleep this last week have you sworn very very little um we um so we were all working our day jobs and then coming home in the afternoon to work on the virtual cheese awards so yeah we’ve had late nights and early mornings and um lots of exciting time though so it’s been it’s been really really exciting and enjoyable to arrange who the who your team are so the team are my partner in crime nigel pulley vicki rogerson jeremy bowen just in case i know nigel is very very famous but you’ve got to say what he does and what everyone does so that we know who the people are so and nigel nigel pulley um is a very esteemed cheese um grader who has worked in the children’s she’s industry for my goodness way over 50 years um he has graded at many many areas around the country and currently he is still working at the age of 74 at wike farm um he’s worked at white farm i believe for about 18 years now and um he’s still grading she’s three days a week so he is uh yeah so very very esteemed don’t get much more trained up than his palette then he is an absolute passion um total totally passionate about she’s beyond all belief yeah absolutely so we have vicky rogerson vicki rogerson is is our pr person and she has her own company um north pr um she is ex-astor and i i know vicky from from those times too and then we also have jeremy bowen and who has been and now he’s got his own consultancy business so jeremy runs jb solutions and has been fantastic in terms of helping get sponsorship uh small chi supplies entering and just a lot of energy behind the whole whole event so yeah thank you very much jeremy and then we have cara bowen and cara used to work um at by um fine foods um and she has been brilliant in terms of pulling together our um people’s choice box um which was pulled together from donated cheese fire butlers farmhouse cheeses and crackers from peter’s yard and black butter from the irish black butter company so peter’s yard crackers yes uh and and so so that’s the top team um but under that you must have dozens and dozens of judges i’m guessing so so i and i must also do a huge shout out so um nigel was extremely instrumental in terms of um organizing all the samples so if you can imagine we had 300 entries they had to be then um separated out into different cheese judging boxes the boxes had to be then sent out to individual judges not just for round one but for round two and then three on this on the same day so there’s a whole team at white farm which was very very kindly um given to us by by the white farm team um so and behind that there was also lots of support from someone called kerry love who who was also chasing sponsors uh sponsorship um chasing entries so there is there is a core team and then the whole team goes far far wider than you can believe everyone has been so so generous so um the judging team we had a core team of 14 and um they have also put a lot of time and effort and as you can watch from the from the videos um it was extremely um intense judging live and everyone could hear so amazing amazing work done by our judging team as well so yeah and sponsors amazing the um the awards is a non-profit event and we totally relied on our very very generous sponsors coming to us at the beginning of our quest to launch this event so thank you for for all our sponsors yeah we need to thank sponsors she’s this is not like wine where there’s money sloshing all over the place is it this is it’s a shoestring that’s the we we have literally been running on shoestring and as i said the event is a non-profit event and when i have worked out all of the all of the monies in in our paypal and bank account then anything left over will be donated to the specialist cheese bikers association as a bursary and to the royal agricultural benevolent institution so whatever we have left it will be given to the specialist cheese makers so yeah well i sincerely hope that it is a a big pile a big pile that will further optimism there right um pop quiz uh how many cheese how many entries did you have how many cheese entries 300 entries jeremy uh how many awards we had 31 classes um seven categories and then obviously one best of british cheese find those award winners the award winners are on our website www.virtualcheeseawards.com brilliant and i’ve been saying that everything’s british this year the event was set up to celebrate the best of great british cheese is that something you’re going to stay on are you going to you know are you going to do it next year do you know i really watch this watch this watch this space charlie we’ll we’ll see yeah when he’s got a good night’s sleep all right now you’ve got for us uh ruth uh from paxton’s to one of our judges so we’re gonna bring on we’re gonna she’s gonna tell us a bit of her story so what it means to be a judge when you’re sitting in your spare room so come on in ruth hello hi hi there how are you doing ruth i’m really well thanks charlie how are you i’m extremely well so you are working i’m guessing for paxton’s are you working from home or are you back in the cellar i am working from home working for my sitting room which is also my dining room room it’s a small flat and as a tuesday and saturday last week it was also a complete spread of cheeses it was a small smelly flat yeah last week it must be quite a challenge you had what 40 45 cheeses come on to your desk on on tuesday yeah yeah it was it was it was a little bit daunting actually because i think you know you get used to when you’re very hands-on cheese you taste cheese all the time and you’re talking about cheese all the time but i’ve been out of the g’s room for a while and so when um sarah said oh you’re going to have 42 pieces of cheese 250 grams each i thought blimey that is that is quite a lot you know that’s nearly 11 and a half kilos but it turns out very good one absolutely it’s absolutely fine um and yeah you kind of i think once a cheese manga always a cheeseburger you know i found that very quickly um you know you sort of get you get your eye back in and it it’s you you find that vocabulary again to talk about it and then describe it um and actually it was a bit like riding a bike so that’s good so well yeah it’s not that long three or four months you know i haven’t had a t-shirt two years and i still think i’m a genius so you know [Laughter] so i saw you doing uh in fact judging the cheese we’re about to talk about on saturday live on the web you and emma yeah it was it was the second time i judged it um and i was really pleased that you know it got through and and we got to do it again um because i just thought it was such a great i just thought it was such a great exciting example of a british cheese um being like a european cheese um and doing it almost well better and you could say better i don’t know say would like was like like what they’re doing with this cheese and we’ll have the big reveal in a minute or two the biggest is i’m not aware is being done by anybody i mean it’s drawing influences from places but inside the same box i think they put together that box of tricks in a way that is that is that is it’s not european it’s it’s like let’s let’s let’s make it up as we go along and see if we get away with it kind of territory isn’t it well they’re definitely working anyways whatever they’re doing is working and it was it was consistent yeah it was consistently so good across both the both the days um and it just kind of wowed us really okay okay well i think ruth it goes to you who is it that’s behind my head who has won as the best british cheese at the virtual cheese awards in 2020 the inaugural one who is it it is a cheese called renegade monk right there it is there it is it goes so so even even the front of this box even the front of this box is is unusual it’s like got steampunk going on it’s like i didn’t know what’s going on he’s got a great test one the running game i have to say i am so proud to have these guys on because i sold it right at the beginning and i’m good so let’s get marcus and penny to add to the stream and bring him on and i think what we’re going to do congratulations you two this is this is like you’ve gone from you know 22 acres not really a good plan to the best cheese in the country amazing thank you yeah no it’s it’s um yeah it’s it’s a transformation and you were there right at the start we were we were it was it was actually my colleague carolyn who found you i think in the first instance um uh who runs the cheese truck down in in in in near your neck of the woods to this day but she said charlie you have to taste this and it was amazing i was like 2017 i’m guessing yep yep that’s right and we’re still hiring carolyn she loves it she loves her and and locked out look down she’s with truffle truck she’s been delivering around to lots of people so yeah she’s yeah it’s great in her in her little converted renault i can’t what and struggles to get up hills yeah all right well another point tell us about your cheese tell us about your cheese because um as i suggested this is slightly undescribable in even a technical way so it is a homage to the stinky and stinkiest french cheeses that i used to enjoy on holidays in france uh so i knew i wanted to do a washed rind cheese when i when i started cheese making but i wanted to do more than that you know there’s washed rind and there’s wash right you’ve got a nice one there charlie yeah that’s curious for you okay let’s let’s see what we can do let’s let’s let’s wash it in something should we wash it in brine no let’s let’s wash it in beer let’s wash it in ale has it just fallen off i just love it but it is it is collapsing and i i have to say i love this cheese and when it came in this morning i thought i’m just going to leave it out for six hours my health and safety inspector would kill me but i don’t have to care anymore i’m a private citizen again so oh look yeah you’re you are a pro and then we threw blue into it so you’re not content with just washing it nail we just thought what happens if we chuck some culture this is the bit where i consider you to have broken the boundaries right washed rind and blue i’m sure if there’s anybody out there listening today and they know of a wash drying blue cheese tell me because i i’ve never heard of this i didn’t really know what i was doing when i started so it was like let’s see what happens and we like the results and we do have to keep reminding people that actually because there were a couple of moments in actually the awards which sarah and ruth will kind of corroborate is there a couple of moments and what’s brilliant about these virtual cheese awards is they’re totally transparent so you can see the judges commenting on your cheese and there’s one lovely judge who i think came around to it he said oh there’s a bit of mold in here and somebody else said oh that’s not good and we were like it’s blue it’s blue it’s fine it’s meant to be there it’s it does say a soft blue organic cow’s cheese um drunkenly washed in ale i mean i think you could argue that it’s just a drunk cheese i mean it’s all over the place it can’t even walk straight yeah you’ve suddenly got a wobbly one though yeah yeah so so tell the people out there what what should what what do you want from a cheese what flavors do you want it to provide i want everything i want i want to be transported when i when i eat a cheese i want an initial flavor yeah watch it go i want it to to to hit you in the nose when you first eat it and i then i want the taste to sort of change as it moves around your palate and then i want a really strong aftertaste i want an aftertaste that lingers and also draws you back for more all right yeah i remember when we first sold this i i hope this is fair to say um uh you weren’t as good as you are now is that is that a fair thing to say we’d only be going a few months yeah um and trying to hang on the coattails of those awesome flavors without them stampering all over the place and you know you get one in control and then this flavor would go shooting over here somewhere um which meant that as a cheese it was always surprising always sort of big in the mouth but not always kind of like tame do you know what i mean it wasn’t always it’s not a domesticated cheese this is it we used to say because we we we sell it mark we use it for the past three years we’ve been selling at markets a lot um every weekend and and people come up to us at 9 30 in the morning to have a tasty meal you kind of almost have to say this is not a breakfast cheese and this is a cheese for grown-ups because they handed that six-year-old it’s you have to kind of manage it slightly you do but um as ruth said when she was judging the cheese you’ve got consistency the holy grail of cheese making and you’ve got it which is a lot of hard work and i think you have to be congratulated enormously for that thank you well we’re we’re we’re thrilled and then watching the the the judge’s comments live with with our family was one of the tensest things i think i’ve ever done but but also one of the most exciting and incredibly sort of honoring and and flattering and you know judges were not holding back yeah they were they were brutal you know so we we were lucky enough to be in three classes and those we got knocked out of because they said oh this cheese is is a little bit chalky in the center maybe if they presented it two days you know older it would have been perfect it’s like what are you gonna do we’ve gotta send these things in you know they they were they were unflinching judges but the fact that you could see them making their comments and they’re clearly knowledgeable it was wonderful well i know grudges um uh nigel and sarah have done a very good job of pulling together i mean obviously a lot of these people are probably quite unemployed at the moment but you know it’s fantastic that they brought together such competent people um i i find that you know if you’ve got a cheddar as much as you know cheddar is a hard cheese to make really really good it’s probably going to be really good for a couple of weeks your cheese is going to be really good for a day or two days it’s going to be the top of its peak for a much shorter period than those big old hard cheeses even the blue cheeses are going to be more stable than yours timing timing is everything and and i guess the difficulty for artisan cheese makers is is communicating this to to the consumer they need to they need to take their cheese home and they need to look at it and think do i want to eat it now do i want to eat in a week’s time do i want it to develop so people ask us about shelf life and we say yes there’s a six seven eight shelf life on this but if you leave that to the end this is blowing your socks off yeah it’s young now you know this one that you’ve been being sent from the same batch i’m going to cut them together out of the fridge 20 minutes ago so your one was completely collapsing this one i don’t know if people can see you know that’s that’s pretty fun so you do what holly did and leave it out for a well i mean that that’s a good experience for people to see the difference between yours and mine now these are fro jeepers creepers these i i understand it from what you’re talking these are from the same batch right yeah absolutely when was this made so this one was made on the 30th of last month so this is really young three weeks three weeks normally we sort of think about four weeks before we send them out but you know in the summer and the heat they’re they’re developing really quickly at the moment and so so we’re getting them out the door and and again the joy of artisan cheese making is is this variation even within a single batch so some of these jesus from this batch i wrapped five days ago i’ve still got a hundred in the fridge that i’m not going to wrap until next week so we’re looking at all the cheeses even within the same batch on a daily basis and turning them and going this one no let’s give that a few more days this one that’s ready to go so how often are you washing them so after they go into into the fridge after we start maturing them after about three full days we we pierce them to allow some food to come through to to to blue and then about three days after that we give it a top first wash and then they get washed every about three days three washes four washes in total oh it’s another one in there yep plus you’ve got the blue the penicillin rock 40 i’m assuming using penicillin um breaking down the curd in its own way so so we always have the the phrase in the academy of cheese that washed rind and white mold cheeses mature from the outside in and the blue cheese is mature from the inside out and what you’re doing by having blue mold and washed around is you’re going in two directions at the same direction you’re washing from the outside in and the inside out you’re mature so you’re throwing enzymes at this curd going i’m gonna have you we’re gonna break you down until you you get this this this it doesn’t stabilize yeah amazing so um so how have you had a good lockdown have you have you selling what you’re making are you still making what’s your so it was tough at the beginning like it was for everybody so so in march we had orders just died right at the beginning and we had 2 000 cheeses in stock or in production and everything died overnight and penny who’s in charge of of sales distribution did an amazing effort in in terms of reaching out to to new outlets we’ve recently got our organic status and we’re a shout out to lots of organic farm shops and they took it and they they supported us and and a couple of our wholesalers were amazing in terms of really really again pushing us understanding that the blue cheese makers the soft cheese makers were in trouble the hard cheese the cheddars they could put their stuff into storage they are fine if they could get through their milk um but they they they really worked for the soft cheese and the blue cheese and in the end of those 2000 that we were panicking about i think about 200 we had to feed to our pigs but the pigs were happy okay so then we stopped for a bit and then gradually as april may started making in smaller quantities we had to reduce our prices uh and we’re now sort of beginning to to get back to the the same levels but of course the award charge double now you are you are the winners so let’s bring let’s bring sarah back in hello uh marcus and penny you’re gonna have to cuddle up a bit um we can we can see yes here we are that’s perfect thank you very much so sarah you must be you must be really pleased um on the uh uh to have such a photogenic winner i am absolutely um beside myself so yeah i mean such deserving winners and we couldn’t have made a better story so these are the the type of often cheese makers that we’re thinking about when we first set up the virtual jesus wars way back in well the idea was in march basically so that that is the kind of story that actually got us into action so um yeah thank you very much and amazing i’m so excited for you as i said today really excited it is a lovely story so i’m gonna i’m gonna come out the box yeah i am now officially a member of the renegade party sorry you can see that i’m shaving i’ve got a bit of a covered cut there um but i i’ve got to ask penny is there a rebel none cheese i’m saying so i’m doing this because that is that this is the sister cheese to um renegade monk and it’s a it’s a more blue version of renegade monk which actually came about because we were storing the cheese in a different part of the um maturing room and it just came out and it developed and so we’re recreating it because it’s actually being remarkably popular so in a way of these things it’s you you know you evolve brands you kind of go okay this is the one that we’re going to try and sell as a the kind of sister cheese so we’ll send you some um but it’s um yeah it’s it’s we i mean we’ve only made one cheese for three years and so now we’re doing this one and we’re just about to make our third one la fresco margarita which is a very fresh new cheese it’s totally different to the other two the other two are so labor intensive and this one is just really easy you’re making you’re making something oh god i’m not doing not another one it’s difficult i didn’t say it i didn’t want to do any more i didn’t want to pierce any more cheers well tim jones uh you know tim up at lincolnshire tells the story that he lost a palette of his cheese in his warehouse i don’t know if he’s ever told you that story so i don’t know how big a palette was but they had they’re all on kind of runners um and they have a big um cheese room and they lost a pallet for something like two years like that sounds weird so he’ll come on and it’s not true and all that kind of he’ll deny it to himself but apparently he lost his pal and he’d not do it so so the story goes right that he took it to the farmer’s market he was a bit embarrassed about it so he kept it on the shelf underneath the thing and for all the people who came to his store said um oh kind of got anything stronger he would sort of reach under the counter big but a lot and then and that grave him i gave him a new he started doing it deliberately started bringing on some of his older cheeses going right through and it it’s the case that when you’re a small artisan guys like you you don’t see these mistakes as mistakes you’re going what have we learned what can we do who likes it where do we go next yeah yeah yeah totally it’s it’s a it’s a real lesson in actually kind of every and it’s the same with lockdown actually every kind of every challenge is actually an opportunity because it did whereas everyone else you know we did have to get on the phone and as a result we’ve now got 15 20 new partners who who are great and we love um so thank you to everyone who supported us so are you i mean you’ve only got 22 acres is that right yeah um that’s not a lot of cows how many cows you got we don’t have our own cows so it’s it’s too small to to be able to sustain a herd so we buy in the milk from two local fantastic organic farms um and what we do with our land is is to have we have sheep and we have pigs which we use to consume all the all of the cheese way and any mistake that i make so everything everything is local all the ingredients are local the cows are you know half a mile over there five miles over there oh that’s i mean i used to live in mappington just the view north northwest of you um and i’ve friends all around that area and the half moon pub which is uh which must be the righteous i’m getting i got quite drunk in there in my youth they had a giant jenga game that got us into a lot of trouble yes yeah uh yeah uh and so i know the area very well uh it’s um uh it’s it’s a lovely part quite flat uh and but it’s it’s a nice part of the world where you’ve where you’ve decided to make your home yeah yeah and we were with such rookie cheese makers that we kind of decided we didn’t want to scuff it up with cows as well you know because if you’re doing milking as well as the cheese making you’ve got two new things that you have to learn uh yeah that’s why we focused on that very wise very wise uh fat thing it was like if you’re gonna do something try and get the keep the bit you don’t know to as small as possible well definitely come come from it from a from a different angle to to i think a lot of cheese makers who are dairy farmers who have had to diversify yeah because of milk price and all of that and and we came at it from an obsession with cheese i guess it was like oh is a great note on which perhaps to uh to to end because it’s the obsession of cheese that gets people like you to do cheeses like this so people like sarah can shout them to the rooftops so that people like me can eat gorgeous cheese so here’s tradition here’s to obsession um i’m gonna say thank you very very much for coming on and congratulations and well done sarah and nigel and the rest of your team for well thank you thank you very much absolute pleasure thank you well well done everybody and thank you very much for coming on tell us about your your fantastic job you guys have a good evening bye now uh and that is the best cheese so i cannot tell you how unruly this is this is the most unruly cheese i think i’ve ever had certainly i’ve ever had on tuesday night’s cheese night um there are no doubt amazing people all around the world right now making fantastic cheeses and i think they should look to marcus and penny and going if they can do it you can do it so if you out there are thinking about making cheese in just three years they’ve gone from startup to the best cheese in the country according to the virtual cheese awards and again thank you to the virtual cheese awards for bringing attention to these small producers and let’s hope they have a big pile of money ready at the end to hand on there’s a bursary so other people can learn how to make cheese so that’s it from me that’s the tuesday night’s cheese night a reminder that the academy of cheese is all about learning about cheese it’s got lots of courses online i have my next course with the ella with with learning on my webinars on the second of september so please come back and come and book with me i obviously like that but there are lots of other good training providers and the training providers are beginning to start booking courses into this into the winter which is really really good news uh what else have i got to say only that we’re now going to take a break for a few weeks our next tuesday night is cheese night is going to be the first of september the beginning of autumn can you believe it it’s all happened so fast this year in such an unpredictable way so i’m going to send huge cheese love out to you out there it’s been charlie turnbull it’s been great enjoying these last 16 or 17 episodes and i hope you’ll come back and find me in the autumn when we’ll talk about cheese all over again so bye lots of love see you in the autumn