Working in Cheese – The Wholesale Manager
By offering a formal method of recognising the knowledge, skill and talent of the people who work in cheese, Academy of Cheese aims to support careers in cheese and inspire others to want to be involved. With its four levels of study, from Associate through to the esteemed Master of Cheese, the Academy of Cheese offers an educational route to career progression and as industry recognised body unites a network of cheese of mongers, makers, writers, wholesalers, and consumers.
For the next instalment in our ‘working in cheese’ series, we turn to Academy of Cheese Training Partner La Fromagerie to meet their Wholesale Manager. La Fromagerie boasts three impressive award winning cheesemongers in London, as well as a successful wholesale business. The first shop was opened by founder and cheese expert Patricia Michelson in 1992, who is also the author of two cheese books; ‘The Cheese Room’ and ‘CHEESE’.
About Michael Paradise
Meet Michael Paradise, Wholesale Manager at La Fromagerie. Michael has been working in the cheese world for 4 years and in 2019 was a finalist for Young Cheesemonger of the Year.
Q&A with Wholesale Manager Michael Paradise
I’ve been working in cheese for … 4 years
My first job in the cheese world was … seasonal cheesemonger at Neal’s Yard Dairy for Christmas
My current job title is … Wholesale Manager at La Fromagerie and in my role I’m responsible for purchasing cheeses for the business, working with our wholesale clients to make sure that they have the best quality cheese, working with our producers to make sure that we receive the cheese in the condition that is best for us, managing a team to make sure that the cheese is cared for in the correct manner and that deliveries are made to our wholesale customers in the correct time frame, making sure that all our online sales are fulfilled and finally making sure that we follow all regulations in regards to HACCP.
A typical work day involves … I work with an amazing team of people who are all nuts about cheese! We talk about it all the time and taste together too. There are several senior cheesemongers who manage the Tutorials and teach the Academy of Cheese sessions. We meet up to discuss cheese profiles, how we keep the cheeses rotating so they are being shown at their best time or season and how well they are selling in the shops. It is an important part of my job to be involved in what is going on in the shops as well as the warehouse/wholesale. We often bring people working in the Cheese Rooms in the shops into the warehouse to do days there and vice-versa. Patricia wants us to be knowledgeable about all facets of La Fromagerie and not just pigeonholed in our particular area. Even though I am now leaving to settle in Australia, I know that the team will be able to work well with their new Manager when he/she is recruited. Transitioning is always difficult when there is change but the important thing is to understand everyone’s role and be supportive.
My favourite part of my job is … working with our producers to make sure that we can showcase their cheeses in the best way possible. I also get to visit the producers and build a personal relationship with them, this really helps me to tell the story of where the cheese comes from and the people that produce the cheese. We could not sell such great products without the cheesemakers. I also really enjoy working with chefs to help them showcase these cheeses in the best way possible.
In my career I’m most proud of … obtaining a SALSA certificate for our Maturation rooms. A lot of effort went into it, so I was very proud that we were able to get the certification. On a personal level I was very proud of being a finalist for the Young Cheesemonger of the Year 2019.
The worst part of my job is … running a department means that you cannot spend as much time with hands on cheese work, which I really do miss.
My advice for someone wanting to become a Wholesale Manager would be … put yourself out there. A lot of my job is based on having relationships with people, whether it is customers or producers. Take every opportunity to do as much networking as you can, you never know when this might pay out. Try to go to cheese awards, cheese festivals, hospitality events etc. They are always fun and putting a face to a name or voice really helps.
My answer changes regularly but Challerhocker is the one cheese that I will always go back to and one of my first proper cheese loves.
I studied with the Academy of Cheese because … I think that it is important to have an accreditation for your knowledge. It shows to people outside of my business that I have a good knowledge of cheese. I was also very intrigued about what all the fuss was about.
My favourite thing about the Academy of Cheese is … I think that it is very important that we share our knowledge with as many people as possible. As an industry we are only going to survive if more people know and eat artisanal cheeses and I feel that the Academy of Cheese has started a cultural shift within the industry to share our knowledge between everyone.
I see the future of the cheese industry as … exciting. It has been a very hard last 12 months and some great producers have not made it through the difficult times but there has also been a great response from the industry for the issues that we have had. There have been all sorts of new businesses that have appeared and thrived. The general public have been very supportive and I hope that continues. I also think that the future of British cheese is going to be very interesting as there are a number of producers that are doing a lot of intriguing things and I am interested to see how they turn out.
My favourite cheese is … Challerhocker and I like to enjoy it with Pet Nats. My answer changes regularly but Challerhocker is the one cheese that I will always go back to and one of my first proper cheese loves. I really think that Pet Nats are underrated when it comes to pairing with cheeses. The light sparkling and slight cidery taste works well with a lot of different styles of cheese.
My ideal cheeseboard would definitely include … Sinodun Hill, Baron Bigod, Abbaye de Troisvaux, Salers, Challerhocker, Colston Bassett Stilton and Regalis. Luckily my family loves cheese too so we get to try a lot!
With thanks to Academy of Cheese Training Partner La Fromagerie: www.lafromagerie.co.uk
Find out more about Academy of Cheese courses HERE.