EVENTS: Future of the British Cheese Industry – Conversations Around The Cookery School Table

The fourth in our new series of insightful monthly panel events was around a topic that is close to our hearts at Cookery School – British cheese.  Conversations Around The Cookery School Table is the place to  enjoy lively discussions, networking with like-minded food lovers, and, as with all events and classes at our school, the opportunity to taste some delicious Cookery School food.

The Future of British Cheese

Our most recent event took place on Monday 20th May 2024 from 6pm-8.30pm. For The Future of the British Cheese Industry we gathered together a range of people with experience in cheesemaking, cheese retailing and its marketing. How does our landscape, history, heritage and changing climate impact cheesemaking in the UK today and what is the future for our artisan producers? The evening included an insightful panel discussion, a cheese tasting and some delicious light bites by Cookery School, matched with organic wines.

Future of British Cheese panel

Future of British Cheese Industry Panel

Our panel included writer & cheese podcaster Jenny Linford whose feature “The British Cheese Crisis” during lockdown was instrumental to the survival of many British producers, Mary Quicke – award winning 4th generational cheesemaker (Quickes was established in 1540) widely considered the Godmother of British cheese and to provide an alternative view on “cheese” there will be tastings from La Fauxmagerie – UK’s first plant based cheese monger & award winning producer of British vegan cheese.

Representing cheese buyers were Emily Parkinson responsible for cheese buying at Fortnum & Mason. Last but not least was Quality Manager Jazz Reeves, based in Paxton & Whitfields new cheese rooms in the Cotswolds.


Mary Quicke

Mary Quicke

Mary Quicke MBE DL, MD of Quicke’s Traditional Ltd, is an integrated cheesemaking and farming family business in Devon producing 200t traditional clothbound cheese/year, milk from 690 crossbred cows, in 2 calving blocks, paddock extended grazing.  The farm and estate sequesters 84% of its greenhouse gases, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030 installing photovoltaic panels and regenerative farming.  Quicke’s has been in environmental stewardship schemes since the 1990’s, improving biodiversity.

Mary founded the Academy of Cheese, with a group of industry colleagues, a global certification scheme whose aim is cheese sold for value not price.  Currently with 5000 people training or having trained across 81 countries.

Mary is also co-founder, of Maize Growers Association, releasing dry land farms from over-reliance on first cut grass silage. She contributed to the formation of the Raw Drinking Milk Producers Association an organisation that unites and provide food safety support (2017).

She gives her expertise as a regular judge at cheese competitions, including American Cheese Society, British Cheese Awards and World Cheese Awards. Food Standard Agency Board Member (2017-2020), Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board Dairy Sector Council Member, (2017-), Chairman of Council, Devon County Agricultural Association (2015-2022), contributing the intersection between farming, food, society and environment.

In addition to her MBE, Mary’s awards include RABDF Dairy Industry Woman of the Year, British Cheese Awards Cheese Industry Award 2019, Exceptional Contribution to Cheese, World Cheese Awards 2015, inducted Guilde des Fromageurs 2016, Waitrose Top 10 Most Influential Women in Food 2023.

Her writing credits include Mary’s Dairy Diary, a widely read blog on food, farming and environment since the 1980’s, all about farming and food production in a biodiverse landscape.   She is an award-winning columnist for Devon Life magazine (EDF SW Columnist of the Year 2015).

Quicke’s Business Purpose:  World class cheese sold world class around the world with excellence in farming.  Mary’s personal purpose: I contribute to food and farming, friends and family.

Jenny Linford on The Future of British Cheese

Jenny Linford

Food writer Jenny Linford is the author and editor of over 15 books, including Great British Cheeses,  The Missing Ingredient – the Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour, and  The Kew Gardens Cookbook.

A longtime cheese enthusiast, during the first Covid lockdown, she quickly realised that with the shutdown of hospitality, British cheesemakers and cheesemongers had been left with quantities of unsold cheese and wrote a piece for her website, The British Cheese Crisis, highlighting their plight and the urgent need to buy cheese to save artisan British cheese.

Her piece went viral and there was a wonderful response by the British public and Booths supermarket to support Britain’s cheesemakers.

As a result of her cheese campaigning, she was asked in 2021 by the newly launched Food FM Radio to produce and present a cheese podcast named A Slice of Cheese. For the podcast she talks to cheesemakers, cheesemongers and fellow cheese-lovers around the world and has now made over 70 episodes.

Mitch Lee - Head of Sales - La Fauxmagerie

Mitch Lee

La Fauxmagerie was founded by Welsh sisters Rachel & Charlotte Stevens. We will be joined by Mitch Lee who is La Fauxmagerie’s Head of Sales.

In 2019 Rachel and Charlotte opened their doors as the UK’s first plant-based cheesemonger – curating a range of delicious vegan cheeses from artisanal producers.

Still noticing a gap in the market, they set about making products to rival the dairy equivalents on taste and texture. The company now handcraft a range of plant-based cheeses using traditional methods, but with modern ingredients.

La Fauxmagerie Cheese

The range is mould ripened and fermented, using almonds or butter beans as a base and includes blues, brie, camembert & more.

Leading the way in the UK market and producing at scale, La Fauxmagerie’s customers include Waitrose, Planet Organic and independents up and down the country.

Emily Parkinson

After spending most of her career in Defence and Engineering events, Emily Parkinson decided to change career paths and do something she was passionate about…and the answer was Cheese! For the last four years, Emily has been working in Cheese Buying, sourcing the best Artisan Cheese from Great Britain and across Europe. Starting out in an independent Wine and Deli where she led the creation of the Deli arm of the business, sourcing and buying Cheese and leading private and corporate Cheese and Wine Tastings around Essex.

She is now responsible for Cheese Buying at Fortnum and Mason, sitting in the Fresh and Deli team as the Assistant Buyer.

Jazz Reeves with Schnebelhorn

Jazz Reeves

Quality Manager Jazz Reeves, is based in Paxton & Whitfields new cheese rooms in the Cotswolds.  For 225 years Paxton & Whitfield has pioneered artisan cheese and handmade fine foods.  Jazz manages the maturation of cheeses, alongside the cheese operation, and food safety for the business.  She has the job of tasting the cheese as each batch comes in from the cheesemakers and approving its quality for sale.


Future of British Cheese Industry Event Agenda

6pm – 7pm: Enjoy welcome drinks, networking & cheese tasting platter

7pm – 8pm: Panel Discussion with a Q&A

8pm – 8.30pm: Further networking and final goodbyes


Conversations Around The Cookery School Table


Our Future of The British Cheese Industry panel covered topics including:

* Has the British cheese industry fully recovered from the challenges it faced during lockdown?

* Is vegan cheese technically “cheese” can a cheese only be made with dairy milk?

* What should we look out for when buying good cheese?

* What safety issues are involved in the making and storing of cheese?

* Looking at the British cheese in the export market, how does it fare in comparison to French cheese?

* What can we do to ensure the survival of British Cheese?