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Cheese is a favourite foodstuff that never goes out of fashion; it merely evolves over time. It can be a meal in itself, or complement a starter, main course or pudding. It’s also guaranteed to fuel a foodie conversation, with most people having a favourite cheese alongside a strong regional loyalty.

In our infographic and blog post below, we’re celebrating this year’s British Cheese Awards with a map of some of our regional favourites, showcasing the sheer variety of British cheeses and their diversity of styles, textures and tastes. Take a look at them ‘Caerphilly’!

Infographic with a British cheese map showing the origins of British cheeses

The history of cheese-making

Nobody knows for sure who invented cheese and ‘whey’ they were at the time, so let us halloumi-nate you! Like most discoveries, it’s though that humans came upon cheese by accident. With animal stomachs being the ‘bag for life’ of the ancient world, there’s every chance that one was used to transport milk at some point, with the rennet from the lining turning the milk into curds and whey. Cheese-making has been in Britain for around 2000 years, and began as a way for peasants and Trappist monks to preserve an excess of milk. When Britain began moo-ving away from being a rural collection of villages, local cheese-making also went into decline. Bigger dairies began producing in bulk, with cheese leaning towards the rubbery products sold by some supermarkets today.


The World Wars saw a further drop in local cheese-making due to rationing, until Major Patrick Rance published a legen-dairy book on the subject, rejuvenating an industry that is still thriving today. At the last count, the British Isles produces over 700 different types of cheese, the majority of which come from small farmhouses and independent cheese-makers. It’s no surprise that the UK’s reputation for cheese only gets better and ‘feta’.

A regional celebration of cheese

The exact origins of our regional cheeses are unknown, but-ter the earliest cheeses are likely to be forms of Cheshire and Lancashire. Although there is a lot of overlap these days, with it brie-ing hard to pin down particular traits of a region’s cheeses, they are still as unique as local accents, and Cheddar, Cheshire and Stilton are just three British cheeses known and revered the world over. From the blue-veined to the salty, the nutty to the crumbly, the spreadable to the smoked; Britain has a cheese to suit every palate, and a cheese for an incredible number of dishes both hot and cold. It’s well-known that Cheddar suits a Ploughman’s, that Lancashire makes great cheese on toast and Wensleydale does things to fruitcake that icing and marzipan never ‘curd’, but experimenting with different cheese can fashion fresh beauty from traditional classics.


A photo posted by @debbie_abel on

Many chefs and restaurant owners are now actively celebrating their regional cheeses by sourcing from local dairies and artisan cheesemakers, and featuring their provenance on the menus. With more and more people taking a keen interest in the origins of their food, and being more aware of the benefits of supporting local producers, there’s never been a better time to celebrate regional British cheese in your restaurant or café.

Take a slice out of the latest cheese trends

Of course, cheese is always ‘on trend’, but recent years have seen some interesting cheese trends taking Britain by storm. A surprising front runner is macaroni cheese; cooked in Britain for decades as a cheap and cheerful dish, its rebranding as ‘mac n cheese’ in the US has caught on in a big way. Chefs and street food have seen the potential of a dish with a thousand possibilities, with ‘gourmet’ mac n cheese popping up on many menus, including as burger toppings, and mac n cheese street food businesses like London’s Anna Maes getting foodies ‘in a twist’.


Speaking of burgers, the long-established gourmet burger trend has also made its mark on the cheese industry, with gourmet burgers requiring something more special than a slice of processed cheese. Cheese suppliers have tapped into the trend by launching their own dedicated gourmet cheese: Arla launched a Castello Blue, sliced to a specific width to complement a burger, with Leerdammer rebranding their ‘toastie’ cheese to a ‘toastie and burger’ cheese. Healthy cheese snacks are another trend, with Mintel’s Cheese report of 2015 revealing that 46% of cheese eaters saying that they prefer low-fat varieties. This suggests a need for food markets, pop-up restaurants and grab-and-go cafes to cater for the low-fat cheese snacker.


Also worthy of mention is the arrival to the UK market of cheese curds, often in the form of the Canadian dish ‘poutine’. Curds are popular in the US and Canada but rarely seen in the UK, yet a niche market has sprung up for poutine, a dish of cheese curds, French fries and gravy. Gordon Ramsay had a brief dalliance with the ‘posh chips and gravy’ at his Foxtrot Oscar restaurant back in 2014, but it’s become more of a regular appearance at trendy restaurants – and of course, in the form of street food stalls like Hot Mess Poutine in London.

But perhaps the most intriguing news of all is that while regional British cheeses are booming in popularity, Mintel found that over half (53%) of people are interested in dishes that use cheese in more unusual or unexpected ways. As we’ve already mentioned, this is a sure sign for restauranteurs to be a little more daring with their regional cheese offerings. From cheeseboards to cheeseburgers, it’s time to make British cheeses the star of your menu.

The British Cheese Awards – an official celebration of local cheese

Cheese occupies many a date in the foodie calendar, but the prestigious British Cheese Awards is possibly the biggest event of all. Held each year at the Royal Bath & West Show by the British Cheese Board, accolades are dished out in recognition of the most excellent British cheeses.


So here’s to another ‘grate’ year for British cheeses! We hope that you find our local British cheese infographic useful, and that it might help you to discover some new cheeses from around the British Isles to delight you. Be sure to take a look at our full Cheese Service products collection too, for a tempting selection of marble and wood cheese boards, cheese knives, and more products to compliment your cheese course.

Which cheeses could your establishment simply not exist without? Do you use cheese in an innovative way? What do you believe the future holds for cheese; are there any trends you think we’ve missed out? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below, or send us a tweet @BunzlLockhart.


Lockhart Catering on 31 May 2016 1:04 AM

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