Mary of Quicke’s Cheese posing with her wheels
Cheesemaker and owner of Quicke’s Cheese, Mary Quicke, would like to see an MC in a cow suit dancing around cheesemongers on a stage in England.
“The first time I was at the Cheesemonger Invitational I thought, this is amazing and should be everywhere and how can we clone Adam Moskowitz [the cow]? Cheese in the U.S. is young and cool and happening, and people are rolling around and having fun with it. It’s exciting!”
Though the CMI may not be traveling to London any time soon, Mary Quicke’s enthusiasm for cheese can be felt across the world. If an international Cheese Enthusiasm Ambassadorship position opened up, Quicke would be one of the top three candidates. She can be found anywhere, any time, spreading her love for the community and the fruits of its labor.
Flipping cheddar curds at Quickes, Devon, England
Fitting then that Mary is heading the new British Academy of Cheese exams. Starting in the spring of 2017, the United Kingdom will join the U.S. in certifying cheese professionals who have thorough knowledge of cheese history, care, sales and science. This is a pretty big deal because a) it encourages education in the field, making cheese more well-cared for and customers better served, and b) it serves up a sense of pride.
“Now when your mom asks you to get a proper job, you can say, excuse me, look at this,” says Quicke.
Whew… feeling lucky at the moment that my parents took me on trips to creameries all during childhood so they consider my career not only valid but an opportunity for their gastronomical enrichment. Win-win.
In short, Quicke hopes that becoming certified will make you “unmessable in your knowledge.” Its been a while since Quicke returned to the family business in 1984, when people kept asking her “why aren’t you making block cheese?” Now people want to hear about terroir, specific cheesemakers, to feel that they’re supporting a movement or small farms.
“We want to make sure that the cheese professional has everything they need to give a proper answer and serve a cheese at its peak of perfection.”
The tests will differ from the American test because they’ll start with Level 1- basic training, to 2- professionally able to educate others, to 3- an expert, to 4- a Master. As in a Master of Cheese like a Master Sommelier (they don’t have this exam ready yet but I’m hoping it’ll require experts to cut cheese with lightsabers instead of cheese wire) where one would know everything from cheesemaking to distribution, education and importing.
Someday she hopes for residency, a sort of international cheese professional exchange. Quicke thinks there would be a lot to learn on both ends, “I’ve gone from being a judge at ACS many years ago, thinking “oh, the Americans are kind of doing well,” to tasting and thinking, “these ones are world-class- there are now so many beautiful, balanced, complex cheeses here. I had many oh-my-goodness moments during judging.”
Some of her favorites are the Jasper Hill Cellars collections, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, anything by Andante’s Soyoung Scanlan, and Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise Reserve. To start.
And if Mary really loves the CMI, she has to also love pairings or The Perfect Bite part of the competition, right? She does. And she has her own favorite Quicke pairings too- her mature cheddar with single estate Darjeeling tea, or, unblended rye whisky. Cheers.
Photos are from my visit to Quicke’s during my Isles cheesemaking tour two years ago.
Quicke’s hand rolled butter. Not cheese. But,,… butter. Because, butter.