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CHEESEMONGER LIFE

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if your job required eating cheese EVERY DAY? Below three of our cheesemongers give an account of their experience. If this inspires you, why not visit our jobs page to view our current vacancies.

“Cheesemonger, what a great job! How did you get into it?” Often, I blame my brother. It started when I took a part-time job selling Comté for Borough Cheese Company with him one day a week, he’d worked at Neal’s Yard Dairy himself for nine years during the 1990s. At the time I was finishing off my Photographic Arts degree at Westminster and working as a freelance photographer. One day per week became two, then three…

I took a second cheesemonger job for Fresh & Wild for a time, until eventually leaving the UK to travel for a year around the southern hemisphere. Somewhat prophetically this was financed by taking photographs of cheese for Neal’s Yard Dairy. Whilst in Sydney, I shunned the norm of fruit picking and of course went hunting for cheese shops, finding Simon Johnson as my third residence as a cheesemonger.

Upon my return, there was nowhere else better to work in my mind than Neal’s Yard Dairy. Starting at the Borough shop in 2008 I went on to become the Assistant Manager there, then the same role at Covent Garden and for over a year now. I have been proud to call myself the Manager of the Neal’s Yard Dairy shop that my brother worked in all those years ago. As most of my time is spent eating cheese and meeting new people every day I would say yes, it is a great job.

One day, in November 2012 during my lunch break I went into the Neal’s Yard Dairy shop at Borough Market. I picked my favourite cheese- Old Ford and asked one of the cheesemongers if I could get the contact details of that cheesemaker, what was her name again? Mary Holbrook! I mentioned I’d like to learn how to make cheese. The next day I handed in my notice. 3 months later I arrived on Sleight Farm. I made cheese with Mrs Holbrook for a few weeks. One evening over pork belly and a glass of wine I asked her “Mary, what do you think, shall I apply for a job at Neal’s Yard Dairy?” And this is how I became a cheesemonger.

There is nothing else I love more than selling this amazing product made of JUST milk. I love how cheese tastes different from batch to batch, from season to season. And I love recommending astonished customers to eat the rind. Ever tried the rind of Appleby’s Cheshire or Duckett’s Caerphilly or Stichelton? You’d be surprised.

But what I also love about Neal’s Yard Dairy is the people who work there. I am now the Assistant Manager at Borough, and it makes me so proud to work with such a great and enthusiastic team from all walks of life that supports and respects each other, that welcomes every new cheesemonger warmly and with open arms. We all work very hard but it’s so much fun because we are passionate about what we do.

Cheese took over my life in 2011 whilst I was doing my BA Hons degree in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. I started working in Borough Market selling Comté and only Comté. I became fascinated by how this cheese was different on each day I came to work. On my lunch breaks I would sneak off to the mecca of cheeses in Borough Market, including Neal’s Yard Dairy of course, in pursuit of knowledge. A point came when I felt I knew everything I needed to know about Comté. However, I was dwarfed by a whole new world of British cheeses.

I made the switch and applied for a job in the Borough Market shop. At the beginning I was freelancing in design during the week.  I worked weekends in the Borough shop until I graduated from university. I initially thought that this knowledge would put me in good stead for dinner parties in my later life… 4 years later I am still here!

Now I am spreading the word of farmhouse cheese across Britain from my current role looking after our retail wholesale accounts in the UK. I work closely with our customers, communicating messages from the farms and maturing rooms and passing on my knowledge.