#TNCN with Charlie Turnbull it’s time to talk biscuits with master biscuit baker Wendy Wilson Bett from Peter’s Yard. On of the most successful biscuit start ups in the UK, we talk the craic and the crack.
Streamed live on Nov 17, 2020
Cheese and biscuits Episode Video Transcript
Good evening everybody, it is Tuesday Night it is Cheese Night and we have with us tonight special occasion the first the only person we’ve had all year when this is the only year we’ve done this who is not a cheesy we have a biscuity Wendy.
Welcome to Tuesday Night is Cheese Night in the Academy of Cheese. Thank you very much Charlie although it may not be a cheesy i love cheese which is what i’ve got rings on you showed me those just before we started i they are enough to make me want to get my ears pissed joe’s again yeah man the i need it it’s yeah i might have to go for a stilton or something like that yeah definitely if i could get stilt and i’d have stilton in one and this and the other oh blue blue white yes no i think it would be a rakish pirate cheese man look i think charlie right now i know you we’ve known each other a long time but people may not know you you are the mistress behind one of the most successful cheese biscuit brands in the uk if not the most i don’t know what is there is there a is there a tier have you got the top of the ladder yet yeah no we we have done very well but we’re still fairly small so we’re up there in the top 10 in some accounts that we’re listed in but i’d say there’s still the really really big boys are a lot bigger than us but we’re great yeah what’s that one named after lorries or trucks or cars or something i can’t remember yeah yeah and jacob’s cream crackers but uh i have to say we’re giving them a good run for their money in the accounts where we’re listed so thank you yeah we’re really happy with just a team of 15 so compared to the likes of pladis that we’re talking about we’re tiny completely independent you are not vc funded like some sort of rocket ship no just you and in well no i know i should explain a little more actually about that so there’s four owners um of the business originally so when we started out in and i were both from cadbury we’d had big corporate roles if you like in in supply chain logistics and mere marketing and sales we’ve always wanted to run our own business though um so we left um to set up a swedish bakery business because ian’s wife is swedish she absolutely loves swedish products and baked goods so we set off around sweden looking at other people who are doing it and in the course of that we came across somebody who was called peter so there is a real peter peter lindquist who is um swedish and he had a beautiful artisan bakery in southern sweden wood fired oven proper bubbling saddle and all that and we spoke to him about swedish products and would there be a market for it in the uk and he basically showed us his crisp bread and we just thought they were amazing so they’re handmade out there in sweden there’s nothing like it in the uk um so we just there and then we’re so excited so we decided to go into a joint venture with peter and start making well not actually to begin with we imported his product from sweden into the uk and went to places like fortnum’s and lafromargery and said do you think these are as good as we think little shops down in london you know not very important right at the bottom yeah but we just asked what they thought and they agreed with us so we started by importing then we needed to we knew we wouldn’t really make a business if we were importing so we needed to make them in the uk so we were introduced to john lister who’s the owner of ship to mill flower who also has a bakery that’s a craft bakery in london and he started to make the product for us and loved the brand so much that he then joined the business so john is a partner in the business as is peter so that’s the four original founders okay and with this 2000 that was 10 years ago just over 10 years ago so we’re talking just after the financial crisis here quite a bit it was in the financial crisis actually that we launched the most premium biscuit brands i should stop the biscuit business and the most expensive actually because of the ingredients the most premium product in the market um but thankfully the british public know their their biscuits you can’t dip yours in your in el tido so i’m not sure it’s the standard british biscuit no no not at all and we just set out saying we know that this actually it might be called a crisp bread but actually it goes beautifully with cheese and it goes beautifully with other things as well especially our original but uh our sort of perfect partnering is with different cheeses because i mean i i you know you i don’t know when i first stopped you in my shop um but i just they went they just sold straight away there was never a moment of of warming up if i can put it that way you know yeah and and it’s it’s it’s curious you know we we thought of ourselves as having a range but actually we had a very small number of products in each category sold much better than the rest of the category put together if you know what i mean and you’re so broke i mean i don’t want to you know there are other great biscuits out there yep you know we we sold a lot from the artisan biscuit company and stuff like that um but yours muscled their way in very quickly if i can put it that way that’s lovely to hear i’ve not heard that i think i think part of it is the product sort of speaks to itself when you look through the window it’s enough it is an artisan product it’s made properly it’s a sado starter that’s actually 45 years old because we went to john bakery so we had the benefit of that being a really mature and you had to bring that over across the sea across the north sea you know subtly sneaking in in a jar protected yeah um and but we leave it to ferment for 16 hours for every batch so going back to those big other brands that you were talking about i can’t imagine them having the patience to want to wait 16 hours before each batch is made but then the product is wobbly everything’s unique and different it has the little sort of bubbles that give you a lovely texture we’ve got aldridge here our best selling by far thank you rebecca it is it is lovely though because we really haven’t pushed it so i think in the end word of mouth it’s been listed in super restaurants served with cheese and airways and in the end those things are what speaks for the brand more than anything else but thank you rebecca that’s lovely to hear right let’s let’s let’s get the biscuits on the table yeah so this is the original you must have started off with just the one but one time in that size but also in the really big ones that have the hole in the middle that are the traditional they’re not entirely practical but they’re bloody cool yeah they’re not don’t know if you know charlie they’re not to the way in which crispers were made in sweden during the long dark winters so they’d make as an alternative to bread and then hang it hole over the fire to keep it dry so that’s why we’ve kept that tradition going of making the larger ones with the hole but you’re right these are much more practical for a cheese board really yeah um i’ve just realized a bit of technical issues i haven’t plugged in my computer battery so keep talking we’ll pretend no one’s not okay so yeah let me tell you then in that case let me tell everybody about the original and just to explain my pack looks different from charlie’s that’s because we’ve just relaunched with a new pack design um but it’s exactly the same recipe and it’s made with rye and fresh organic milk and honey and wholemeal flour so it has a slight slight sweetness from the honey but also a real maltyness from the rye that comes through and that can work really well with pretty much any cheese it’s the most versatile biscuit we make so all the others are designed specifically to go with a cheese um and we’ve got a pairing wheel which charlie can show you later to help people choose which biscuit to have with each cheese but original goes not just with cheese it does go with salmon smoked salmon pates things like that but it’s really versatile and was named by the great taste award judges as the best biscuit for cheese out there which we were very flattered about um and i chose today charlie asked me to find a couple of cheeses to pair it with and actually i just went to my favorite local cheese maker mr moyntons and uh beth and martin moyden are lovely local shropshire cheese makers who make cheese the traditional way and martin suggested a cheese which i actually hadn’t tried before which is a newport 1665 named after the great fire of newport if you’ve been talking without me wendy you’re a legend i just need my computer turned off right you were just telling about the great fart of newport in 1665. i didn’t know existed but now i do yeah but what’s nice is this is a hard cheese which is actually very nice paired with the original um and it’s cold smoked over oat chips at their local butchery which is also a smokery so yeah i chose to to try that with our original um i don’t know if you tried it charlie i am about to but you clearly have been talking about the chief’s pairing wheel yeah yeah coming up in the chat um so adam is saying uh you can get hands on a digital copy of the pairing wheel here um but also it’s on your website that’s right i think he may be linking to our um very well but yes it’s it’s in the journal if you go onto our website and you go on to journal and you go kind of four layers down uh there’s a picture of the cheese with pear and honey and if you click on that camera it’s it’s it’s a way it’s a very cunning thing i’ve been playing with it so nutty and fruity and then gives why you want to do that with seeded whole grain sourdough crisper and then you can go with your fresh which is your chocolate and rice and and tell us what you’re doing here wendy what what is your thinking tell us about the matching philosophy i think i think it’s very easy to overwhelm a delicious cheese with the wrong biscuit for cheese and we set out with all of our crackers to work out what the best pairing would be so although there are flavors different flavors across all of our crackers and none of them are designed to be the hero the hero is the cheese that goes on it and that’s united when we first chatted i used the phrase um the biscuit is the straight man you know i did i’ve forgotten that yeah and i was thinking about today because we’re always coming on and this is what you’re saying it’s like the joke is better if you have a straight man you know it’s just that’s right that’s right and i’d say the the only within here the only ones which have a slightly slightly stronger hint of flavor are caraway which is why we’ve paired it with a pumpkin yeah so that goes really nicely with a fairly strong one the pepper pink pepper again that goes beautifully with something like a goat’s cheese and the other biscuit which i was going to cover today which is um spelton fig that’s got lovely whole pieces of fig and again has a sweetness um but again we have felt far flour in there and organic milk and sea salt but the sweetness of it especially with the fig and the honey goes really nicely with a blue cheese a salt as well q blue cheese i think is the oldest yeah so the blue cheese this really is generally one of my favorite blue cheeses ever it’s the rican blue it’s again from um martin boyden and beth and it’s creamy and rich and salty and i just think it’s a lovely pairing with the spelt and fig with the sweetness here we go this is so i when i first saw this i called it reckon blue because i thought that was a cooler name but it’s not reckon blue it’s reeking isn’t it it’s definitely rican it’s rican is a little local kind of you could call it a mountain a hill near here so it’s got a um it’s got quite interesting rind here uh it’s gonna focus me so i don’t even see that’s real topography is there’s a natural rhine going on there yeah and probably some of the penicillin rock 40 is kicking off from the rind as well so we’re getting that breakdown i don’t think everyone can see that just under the rind as the cheese is softening from the rind effect but also around the blue itself the blue has this um fermenting effect as well this this ripening effect which means that you’re getting almost three different types of textures in this blue yeah and and it’s really creamy it’s i think it’s just um you know i used to be a stilton girl but i’m not any longer it’s just you know a little bit overwhelming where this for me is just a little bit more salty creamy subtle um so yeah it’s my favorite go-to blue if i was doing a cheese board i would definitely have rican blue on it expecting it i’ve not i’ve not tasted this cheese for a long time and i’ve sort of vaguely forgotten which is a bit embarrassing i was expecting a lot more um wildness or perhaps even farm yardiness and it’s not there it’s got that it’s got a bit of the acidic and it’s got a bit of the salt as you say um but it’s essentially a creamy cheese yeah yeah yeah i love it um so uh do they make shropshire blue because there’s a sort of story of shropshire blue that shropshire blue has never been anywhere near shropshire oh right okay no i don’t know but mr morgan’s is most definitely made in shropshire so going back to your fig and spelt where’s it going over here so before you say anything right i think one of your awesomest strengths is not so much the flavor it’s that you’re that exactly at my at my shop my best seller was a gorgonzola dolce and yours was the only biscuit that stood up to the late you know technique you need it to be still retain its snap and be light and all that kind of thing we also need a bit of rigidity to say get that cheese and get it so we absolutely love dipping in our peter’s yard yeah the other thing i love about this is the so you’re right there’s the taste not overwhelming the cheese being the straight man there’s the texture and the crispness especially with something like that sort of gooey soft cheese but then there’s also the look i mean everybody loves a beautiful cheese board don’t they cheese looks so fabulous and we just get a lot of feedback that the the look of the product the fact that everything nothing is the same because it’s a naturally fermented product you know it doesn’t look identical to the next thing and so the other thing a real look to it yeah so the other thing on the cheese sort of pairing whale is the idea that you can actually mix and match different colors so we have um you’ll have seen this but this is our kind of selection box um and that just looks really lovely on a cheese board sorry i’m missing the camera because you’ve got different shapes sizes colors but they all have the little bubble that really sort of show this is a product made with time and care we we it’s the same with the cheeses you know you not yeah you want different shapes and colors and and topography on your cheese board because by the time you’ve got the cheeseboard in your meal you’re sitting back you’re having a good time you know that little about an extra is what it’s all about oh look it’s not cool yeah kind of thing so what what are your preferences for cheese pairings and and crackers well this is is it i hope i’m not saying anything too heretical right now right okay so um i don’t say i know it’s gonna sound really weird i like mine around so i almost always choose your classic because it’s round i know why would that make any difference for me i don’t know that’s the way i like it but it’s interesting when the um when we do the academy cheese tasting at level two we introduced the concept of mouth feel which is somewhere between texture and taste right i mean yeah you can get all technical about it so well it’s the way the flex the texture is moving changing the mouth during the chew and blah blah but bottom line is it’s it’s it’s got a foot in both texture and taste camps you know it’s part of the taste experience and for me that’s where biscuits have to really deliver um that’s the the bit that they’re supposed they have to actually say i’m a biscuit and i’ve got something to add if you if you know what i mean and and i think they need to be distinct from the cheese you know you know if they’re a bit soft or whatever or they they meld with the cheese too quickly they their purpose is lost and you’re just just detracting from the cheese which has to do that bit of it so i like biscuits such as yours where i can feel the texture in the mouth as a distinct journey i like that crunch and i like to hear it in my mouth so that is this is what i like so i i like this um i’m not a fan of flavoured biscuits mildly favored ones fine you know that’s that’s part of the journey through the cheese but for me it’s all about the texture it really is it really is and that’s why i think that you win i really do thank you actually we do hear people saying that without we’d never want to um dismiss the competition that keeps us on our toes but a lot of the competition is very pasty you end up with a kind of residue in your mouth that competes with the cheese yeah what you want is a contrast to the cheese it’s a conscious it’s a companion it is not supposed to move over cheese i’ve got something to say it’s yeah you know you think give it each time i i the other part the other flavor that i think that you do really well that i like is that brandiness right um that that that that brownie flavor it’s got nothing in common with cheese you don’t ever get bran flavors that dry toasted no but very very dry very very bright which i like as a companion um and the the third thing i like about it but i’m i’m not this i’m sounding quite sick of fantastic sorry i’m quite apologetic for that but i’m going to say it please it’s bloody small i know that sounds weird but by the time i get to the cheese board i don’t want a mouthful of bread you know it’s like that’s i’m done i’ve already sated myself on my three bottles of wine and i started my main course and then my moose bush and all that kind of crap i’m in i’m in for small amounts of flavor nicely put when it comes to the cheese board if you see what i mean and your your biscuits are light on the tummy if i can put it that way yeah the thing is the funny thing is we never really make anything of it but actually they are um really light they’re they’re low in calories that’s not because we’ve made them that that’s just the natural way in which the combination of the ingredients will result and the the um the what did you say the brownie flavor that comes from the rice so the rice really gives a brownie multi flavor which again i think just lends itself really well with shoes do you um i’m going to talk briefly about the conversation although i’m sure this counts as competition are you aware of something called the dorset knob no oh well it is a real thing before you think by the way um for those people who are watching please somebody said they’ve actually tasted a dorset knob before without the double entendre thing happening um but the dorset knob is a round it’s like a me bun okay it’s about that big and it’s it’s like a mini white bun and they triple break it and it’s down in the name will come to me it’s like little piddle hampton or something like that in south austin and they even have a dorset knob throwing competition how far can you throw your nose so there’s a lot of humor to be had there but they use in what in my opinion has something in common with yours there is no moisture left in their product as there is no so they would have used it for a holding um uh goodness over to have in the fields or through the winter or you know a long lasting so i can’t have a feeling there must be something about the way you’re cooking this bread they must have an origin in long keeping that’s really really interesting because you’re right i mean the original that you’re holding that has a sort of shelf life that goes on for months and months and months because it was based on exactly that recipe that hung over throughout the winter audiobread you know alternative in sweden just in the way they preserved salmon and you know chutneys and jams and ones so yeah it probably does have some connection i shall have to google it after this i shall look it up yeah i’m uh yeah just just make sure that you put in the right terms because dorset knob i’m sure can throw up a few interesting results my husband might wonder why i’m doing that [Laughter] no it’s interesting because um uh biscuits i’m sure they come from the tradition of long-lasting product you know because there’s so much less moisture than bread you know you could argue the biscuits are to bread what milk cheese is to milk you know it’s like saying something that you use really quickly but now i want it to do the winter and you’re you’re now taking it on we often talk about anything fermented uh or anything that was sort of set up to preserve things goes really well with our product you know that could be gravilax or or smoked salmon or uh cheese they they really because they’re made in similar ways for similar purposes they actually really do their sort of marriages made in heaven they really work well that goes back to this this concept of um what we’re in academy are calling a sort of social terroir it’s not necessarily so much about the physical geography of a place or it’s climate or it’s horticultural it’s the fact that what people eat together tastes good together you know that that happens naturally over generations you don’t sit there family or a village or a community or whatever is going i’m going to continue eating this because it tastes really bad with that but it’s we’ve always done it that way they don’t do that they go if we make this small change here and then three generations down the time you have cuisine as we know it where everything naturally sort of goes together and but that scandinavian cuisine that you have taken your influences from you know they are masters are getting products to taste nice six months later this absolutely it’s sort of their their whole skill is about that i agree i mean we’re really really proud that we’re a british company we use british ingredients um but we’re always inspired by that original journey and that original story with peter and peter still on the board you know he’s still very much involved in the business and the the yard by the way peter’s yard we went out to a very cool guy with a beautiful farm in southern sweden excuse me and the back of his property has a gate and a yard looking out into just the natural wilderness it’s so lovely but the gate that we still use is the gate that his original brand that we saw um it was taken from his friend who drew the gate so that’s it’s rather lovely that you know that is a true bit of history it’s not a kind of i used to work in marketing for a big corporate and that would make those we didn’t have to make it up it’s real you don’t pay somebody buying one of those glass doors at the glass doors in a sort of railway arch in london with a very cool long name to do with lemons or something it was uh or it’s just the facts it came from behind peter’s gate yes exactly it did and and is the identical recipe and it’s a recipe that’s been used for oh years and years yes because it’s just simple and lovely but i think i think the one interesting thing that we’ve been lucky about is that obviously we’ve grown now we’re still as i said a fairly small business but we’re not making by hand any longer but we’re using all of the craft skills that were involved originally and it’s hand-baked so it needs craft bakers to watch the oven check it doesn’t burn but we have been able to replicate that hand completely hand rolled feeling um which actually the product i think is probably a bit better than when it was completely made by hand because it’s just a bit more consistent in terms of the thickness and therefore it doesn’t under bake or over bake um because i was hearing tom calvert talk about handmade stuff tom who makes west conchena um and uh he’s put in his turning machine which turns the cheeses and someone said well that doesn’t really make it handmade anymore and you go you are joking i’m turning a cheese there is nothing clever about turning your cheese back but do it as simply as easy as possible it’s a perfectly automatic automatable job yeah i do think there’s a tension in our industry about um where you can do things mechanically or automatically or however you want to phrase it and where no you have to use human judgment or human skill yeah pull this off to the best effect yeah different different people come to different conclusions in that in that in that space yeah i agree with you completely charlie and we would be being completely fake if we said this is 100 handmade that rolling bit is such a tedious job for somebody to do day in day out this is just a very gentle process that replaces that but the skilled bit is knowing if it’s a warm day the sado might need to ferment for longer or less the oven may need to be slightly higher or lower keeping an eye on the bake you know all of those deals that come in to a baker’s a satisfying role for a baker all of those things are essential to getting this product it’s fascinating it’s fascinating and and and what i find with people who are that skilled is they often are very bad at describing what they do but they know you know you know so it’s very difficult to teach it other than just watch with me we’ll know when it’s right and you’re gonna and i’ve sat there and oh it’s just getting right now i’m going why didn’t you there was a um we were in oh where we were wensleydale watching one of the cheese makers there were in their cheese store and um he had they just changed the doors into their cheese store like they did come in through a store and they’d block that up and have another job just to improve their flow and the guy was standing there talking about the difference in airflow across the store that he’d noticed only he could know that he had worked in that store it was it was a classic sort of yorkshire moment oh i haven’t been there that long into 35 years you know calling yorkshire that being able to see how the molds developed on different shelves is that is the artisan the artisan way you know because they know and they and they feel it and they know how it rolls into flavor and how they affect that and that you can’t replace yeah no i i agree but it means now we’ve got plenty of head room for further growth we’ve got a lovely bakery in north london with all of these skilled guys continuing to work throughout covid we’ve never furloughed anybody we they’ve gotten we’ve got an amazing team um so yeah it’s um and last but not least you’ve got new branding yeah yeah i thought it was about time old one i’ve got a new one no that’s not an old one where is it right i haven’t got an old old one yes you’ve got a spelt and figure i think this is this is your classic the i don’t know what color you call that but that sort of orangey was that it was the classic crisp bread and that way it’s much more a paler lighter almost more summery look which is funny the color of the band so all of the recipes are the same color so nobody should get muddled you know the original is orange still same color as it was but they’re a spelt and fig old anderson thing new okay okay i do have a compare and contrast oh no that doesn’t work for me okay okay got it down that’s it that’s it that’s it so yeah we what we did was we just wanted to make it a little bit more modern a little bit more clear that we had craft in the making so the illustrations are done by a lovely paint painter who we employed um and we have windows at the top and the bottom now because we think actually the product speaks for itself and the more we can show people the product the more it will speak for itself so so far it’s really brand new onto the shelves but um what we can see on shelf just it just stands out a little better so you can see it from a bit more of a distance but hopefully it’s going to happen i i i know that you’ve probably done great things and paid some great people to do great job i’m not sure would have made any difference in my shop people would have just known what it was and put in their basket without paying too much attention it’s what people want which is nice yeah yeah there was probably a london arch bridge in the making of the new pack designs yeah yeah well you you need to renew yourself i mean i mean the other thing that i’d put i can’t remember what year was it 2016 you got three gold stars was it two thousand seconds just this year we’ve got three stars for uh spelt and fig so which we’re really thinking about um so yeah we’ve got three testing me now on the date when we got the three stars for original um we don’t enter our products every year we think it’s you know there’s a shelf life so we don’t enter them every year but every single product has got a great taste award great yeah no i remember um uh tasting it it was it was in it was a gillingham dorset where i’d taste it and i already knew it and i was just that deep satisfaction going i i know this product it’s that good idea i was there first i i’ve already selling this one i knew already you know i absolutely love the fact that you said you and your wife call it your peter’s yard i think that’s lovely well it’s a it’s an absolute favorite you you do send the samples periodically because of you know you help us with the academy of cheese and stuff and uh it means that we you know my wife considers herself a rich woman if there’s peter’s yard in so well i must say we’re proud to be patrons because i think what you’ve done with the academy of cheese is great and also what you did to sort of help raise awareness of cheese producers over a very difficult time uh with covid was absolutely fabulous we were proud to be a part of helping with that thank you very much and thank you very much for your support and on that very jolly let’s all love each other note thank you very much wendy for coming on and talking about you know cheese’s um forever companion which is a good biscuit which is good thank you very much thank you for having me it’s been a pleasure right uh see you so we’re my friend i’ve got to make this look seamless here we go oh yeah and goodbye here we go okay right uh right everybody thank you very much now wendy is simply lovely and i need to tell you how good her biscuits are because i think you know you know um some of the comments coming through today means that we are preaching to the converted everybody so that was peter’s yards biscuits that was wendy uh wilson bet um you can see their new packaging in the in in all over the place because everybody has a stock in there now what can i tell you about the academy of cheese we have a level one course starting next week we’ve got a level two course online which is going really well sold out january as well but there are new course dates going up for that next year i think the next one begins at the end of february i think um and there are other courses becoming available so we’re pleased hopefully fingers crossed there will be uh bums on seats and in in place courses next year i really hope now what are we looking forward to over the next few weeks well we’ve got a full schedule going up our last uh tncn our last tuesday night will be i think the 17th of december we’re gonna have a little bit of a christmas party so we’re gonna send out um we’re gonna you can buy little christmas boxes i’m not quite sure what’s in them there but they will be gorgeous um um our good friends at the fine cheese company will help us out with that um and we will just have basically a jolly and tell war stories about covert and look forward to burning 2020 down to the ground on that wonderful night have a wonderful week keep eating your cheese and i will see you next week