Working in Cheese – The Cheese Room Manager

The cheese industry is an exciting one to work within, its steeped in traditions yet constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity. It’s full of talented and skilled people making, selling, writing about cheese and everything in between. To inspire others to get involved and to shine a light on the wonderful world of cheese, we’ve talked to some of those currently working in key cheese industry jobs to find out what they do and why they love it so!

We start by taking a look behind the scenes at an icon of the cheese retail scene: The Fine Cheese Co. Cheese specialists of some 30 years, they mature, wholesale, retail and export artisan cheese and boast stunning stores in both Bath and Belgravia. Although famed for nurturing and supporting British cheesemakers since day one, they also import artisan cheeses from France, Italy, Spain and Holland.

About Alex Kiely

Meet Alex, the Cheese Room Manager at The Fine Cheese Co. He is based in their head office and cheese maturing rooms in Tolldown and manages the team that receives, looks after, cuts, wraps and dispatches the cheese.  

Academy of Cheese gives people the chance to gain a certification in an industry that was previously lacking this opportunity

A Q&A with Cheese Room Manager Alex Kiely

I’ve been working in cheese for … four and a half years. 

My first job in the cheese world was … Cheesemonger at The Fine Cheese Co.’s London shop on Motcomb Street in Belgravia.  

My current job title is … Cheese Room Manager for The Fine Cheese Co. and in my role I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of our maturing rooms with oversight of all cheese that comes through the business. A big part of this is the continued care, and quality assessment, of the product when it is in our hands.  

A typical workday involves … overseeing a team of cheesemongers that are responsible for all the incoming and outgoing cheese.  This includes:

Mail order – cutting and wrapping small pieces of cheese to order. The most important part of this is ensuring our customers receive cheese that is perfectly ripe and of the best possible quality. 

Wholesale – communicating to our sales team about the quality and flavour profile of the cheese in our maturing rooms. 

Continued cheese care and quality assessment of the cheese throughout the day. Cheese care can range from changing the air flow and temperature where the cheese is stored, to turning large cheeses like Cheddar.  

And lots of cleaning!  

“I see a wealth of ambition in young Cheesemakers and Cheesemongers”

My favourite part of my job is … seeing and tasting the seasonal change in the cheese that comes through our maturing rooms. This is best experienced when grading cheese at the point we receive it.  

In my career I’m most proud … of creating a beer-washed Baronet for a beer festival we attended in Melton Mowbray. It was washed in Hopping Spree beer from Round Corner Brewery, and it was delicious.  

The worst part of my job is … having to wear a beard snood all day.  

My advice for someone wanting to become a Cheese Room Manager would be … to have patience in the process, and to trust your instincts when caring for cheese.  

I studied with the Academy of Cheese because … I saw it as a way of learning about the industry from a different perspective. It is doing a great thing by centralising knowledge, and giving people the chance to gain a certification in an industry that was previously lacking this opportunity. 

My favourite thing about Academy of Cheese is … The accessibility of it. The fact they have centralised knowledge, drawing from all aspects of the cheese industry, and that they made it accessible to anyone keen to learn more about all aspects in the world of cheese.  

I see the future of the cheese industry as … I see a wealth of ambition in young Cheesemakers and Cheesemongers. I predict they’ll continue the trend of creating/selling exciting new cheeses from small-scale producers in the UK, brought about by the reintroduction of heritage breeds, new farming practices, and innovative new recipes.     

My favourite cheese is … St Jude, made by Julie Cheyney, and I like to enjoy it simply off the knife or dolloped on some grilled asparagus. 

My Christmas 2020 cheeseboard will definitely include … Lypiatt, made by husband-and-wife team Julianna and Karim at The Old Cheese Room, because of its moussey, decadent texture. 

A close up of Lypiatt courtesy of Julianna Sedli at Old Cheese Room

With thanks to Academy of Cheese Training Partner The Fine Cheese Co :

You can read about other ways the Academy of Cheese supports the cheese industry HERE