A two-day cheesemaking course at The School of Artisan Food turned Lynda Hill’s dream of becoming a cheesemaker into reality. Three years on, she runs the Marlow Cheese Company from her micro-dairy. Her three soft cheeses, the award-winning Cygnet, Bucks Blue and Regatta, are all made with locally produced Guernsey milk.
Lynda was 51 when she took the School’s Introduction to Cheesemaking course:
“I had no experience of cheesemaking before I went to the School. I’m a Londoner, a city girl, and my background is in retail. But I love cheese and knew this was what I wanted to do. I found the course online and my husband encouraged me to sign up.”
“I’d had cancer in the past and a few years ago it came back. That health scare made me realise if I didn’t make a change now, I would regret it.”
The course, led by tutor Paul Thomas, covered making hard, soft and camembert style cheeses:
“I absolutely loved it. The School is a beautiful place to learn. It’s like another world, the atmosphere is laid-back, but you learn so much about the science behind cheesemaking. Paul is very knowledgeable and good at breaking down the technical side, so you can understand it. Even the lunchtimes are great, the food is as fantastic as you’d expect, and I like that the tutors eat with you and the other students.
“Paul is my hero! He knows so much about cheese and even now if I have a problem he helps me out. After you finish the course the people from the School are still there for you and interested in what you are doing next.
“I quickly realised I wanted to concentrate on soft cheese. At the time I was still working in Marks & Spencer, but I came back from the School all guns blazing and so excited.”
Lynda and her husband immediately set to work building a cheese room at their home in Marlow. She then returned to the School in 2016 for the Professional Soft Cheesemaking course.
“My time at the School made me confident enough to start making my own cheese. I’m now the only cheesemaker in the country making lactic cheese with 100% Guernsey milk. I’m proud of what I am producing. The provenance of my cheese is important to me. It’s so local, from my back garden I can hear the cows that provide the milk I use!
“It’s not an easy job, I am in the cheese room making or checking the cheese every day. Back in 2017 we had a hot spell, our fridges overworked and sucked all the moisture out of the cheese, so they were hard as rock! We lost a few batches which was tough.”
“I love having my own business and it’s doing really well. We sell at food markets and festivals, my cheeses are stocked in local shops and used in restaurants, including Tom Kerridge’s The Hand and Flowers in Marlow. When I see how much people appreciate and love the taste of my cheese, it’s a very satisfying feeling.”
Lynda is hoping to expand the Marlow Cheese Company and move to bigger premises, so she can develop different products, including a hard cheese and a sheep’s cheese.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without the School. It is where it all started. I am lucky enough to have a source of beautiful fresh milk on my doorstep and the School put me on the path to being able to use it to make cheese. I couldn’t have gained the skills, knowledge and confidence I needed to do this anywhere else.”
Find out more about the Marlow Cheese Company.
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