We were big fans of the whole WSET process so imagine our excitement to learn that the School of Fine Food were offering a cheese-lovers equivalent!
There are now Level 1 evening and weekend cheese courses through which you’ll explore provenance, pairing and the palate and leave an Associate of the Academy of Cheese – a recognised qualification.
We went along to a Saturday class held at the School of Fine Food’s London home near Borough Market. Unlike the WSET classroom which insisted on no coffee, no perfume and even advised against strong smelling shampoo, the atmosphere at the Academy of Cheese was a whole lot more relaxed with regular hot drinks provided. There was just a handful of us taking part on the day I attended, although one keen bean had flown in all the way from Brazil!
Our small group was led by Matthew Bunch, co-founder at The Camden Grocer, who began by asking us all what our favourite cheese was – comté if you’re interested – before talking us through what to expect from the day.
The course starts with the basic cheese-making process, with our first tasting being a simple goat’s curd, which was meant to represent how the more primitive, first cheeses would have tasted.
A comically dated video took us through the cheddar making process where we learnt new cheese terminology but all this was leading up to the comprehensive tutored tasting where we tasted 25 different cheeses. Just like the WSET, there are strict criteria for each cheese to fall into, so you can start making distinctions between them and begin to understand what’s normal for that type of cheese and what’s not.
The course is designed to help curate an epic cheese board at home or develop a career behind the counter, with it very much applying to both keen amateurs and those in the industry. Before we left, we were encouraged to play around with some classic cheese and wine pairings ourselves, trying everything from port with stilton to cider with cheddar.
We all went home with a little further reading to assist with home study, with the online examination taking place at a time of your choosing.
At time of writing the Academy of Cheese have just launched level two, for those wishing to further their studies, with levels 3 & 4 (where you’ll become a Master of Cheese – what a great title!) planned over the coming months.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will keep you updated as to how we get on with the exam!
The Academy of Cheese Level 1 Associate course costs £195 and is held at No. 42 Southwark Street, the School of Fine Food’s London home near Borough Market. One-day courses run from 9:30am to 5pm and the evening course will run over three consecutive weeks.