When it comes to cheese, there’s a LOT to learn. Knowing the difference between a mature cheddar and a smoked Bavarian may seem like common sense, but when it boils down to it, one wrong cheese and your whole board comes crashing down – along with your reputation.
I think it’s also safe to say that people take their cheese extremely seriously. It’s not just the taste though, it’s the texture, how well it melts, the chutneys, the crackers… there are almost as many variables flying around as rocket science – but it’s much more important than that.
So, when a restaurant proudly serves up a cheese board, you’d expect it to be considered, balanced and well-researched, and not just a few chunks of Cathedral City, some Babybel and a couple of Ritz crackers perched on Branston pickle.
As a result, Dakota Grill at the stunning Dakota Hotel have taken things a step further and enlisted Manchester’s foremost expert to not just curate their cheese board, but to also provide staff with extensive ‘Cheese Training’ to ensure they know what they’re talking about when serving it up.
The Crafty Cheese Man AKA Jonathan Piercy supplies many of Manchester’s restaurants with their cheese, and the man is a true expert in the stuff – he’s probably forgotten more than you’ll ever learn. And his training? Well, that’s something he’s certainly very proud of;
“The training is a really important part of what I do. I really think it is important to help the teams of people that will be selling or working with the cheese I supply to understand where its from, how its made and what makes it special.”
It’s true that cheese can be a bit daunting for staff, and indeed most people, as there seems to be a lot to know and a lot of potential questions that people can ask about it. And so the Cheese Training looks to relate the “great stories and the fantastic people making them, so that people have passion, knowledge and also helps sell the cheese too!”
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Cheese training with these absolute beauties at @dakotahotel_mcr . Great session with a really interactive team. Loving being back helping them with their cheese trolley. Cheese is back this weekend at Dakota Manchester baby!! Although there was one wasp that wasn’t a fan and made it clear by stinging me mid training. Cheese clearly isn’t for everyone 😂😂. #crafty #cheeseman #dakotamanchester #cheesetrolley #lookatthesebeauties #greatteam #cheesetraining #letschatcheese #lovemyjob #thelovelyterrace #itainteasybeingcheesy #itsallaboutthecheese #bishbashbosh #theolddairy #keepsmiling #simplylovely #itsguests
So what does the ‘training’ incorporate?
Well, Jonathan goes through information regarding lactose intolerance, pregnancies and cheese, as well as the basic process of cheese making – including the all important fact that “in essence – all cheese comes from the same 4 ingredients.”
“I then go through each cheese discussing where it is from, who makes it and the details of the make process including aging etc. We then taste and discuss the flavour profile of each cheese helping the team to understand what flavour notes to look for and the importance of each part of the cheese from the middle right out to the rind and how the rind can progress the cheese from being great to being epic!”
Another important part of the training is for staff to actually meet the cheesemakers, and so this is the next step in Jonathan’s training regime. “We will go to a number of the local dairies to see the cheese being made and meet the legends that are involved in making it.” Further giving people more confidence and knowledge when serving the cheese up.
Finally, I asked Jonathan what the 4 most important things that people take away from his training. He said…
THE BASICS of cheese and how it develops.
THE UNDERSTANDING of the stories behind the cheese and the fantastic people making them.
THE IMPORTANCE of each part of the cheese including the rind.
THE PASSION and interest for the cheese.
For more information on The Crafty Cheese Man, head here.
The Cheese Trolley at Dakota
Available every day at The Dakota Grill