Rennet & Rind from Cambridge was crowned Affineur of the Year on Wednesday 27 April, following a live judging and tasting event held at the China Exchange in London. This trophy announcement marks the close of the first ever edition of the competition, which was founded by the Academy of Cheese and Devon-based cheesemaker, Quicke’s, to celebrate the underappreciated art of maturing cheese.
The winning truckle was aged in Rennet & Rind’s maturing rooms by head of cheese, Perry James Wakeman, a Certified MonS Affineur, who worked and studied under the highly respected Hervé Mons, Meilleur Ouvrier de France. As specialists in selecting, ageing and grading British artisan cheese, Rennet & Rind used the opportunity to push the boundaries of cheddar maturation, taking meticulous measurements as they experimented with temperature and humidity levels, while the cheese also benefited from the unique microflora within the shop’s maturing room.
Said Perry James Wakeman, head of cheese, Rennet & Rind: “I’m almost speechless. There’s so much hard work, graft and effort that goes into maturing cheese and aside from the odd great review from a customer online or the occasional call from a chef, it’s amazing to receive this recognition from my peers and so many wonderful people from within the cheese community, to recognise a cheese that I’ve worked hard on feels really good. I named the winning truckle Priscilla, so I look forward to making more Priscillas with Mary Quicke very soon.”
Added Tracey Colley, director of the Academy of Cheese: “We’re delighted to have delivered the UK’s first ever affinage competition and couldn’t have hoped for a better winner. Maturing and refining cheese is at the heart of Rennet & Rind’s business and I know Perry put his all into the contest! Better still, the event delivered 10 remarkably different cheeses that had all started from the same batch at Quicke’s, which we hope will begin to shine a spotlight on the incredible work being done by Britain’s affineurs in the cool quiet of their maturing rooms.”
Explains Mary Quicke MBE: “I’d like to thank all of the competitors for making the first ever Affineur of the Year possible! It’s a huge honour for us to have provided the ‘base cheese’ for this wonderful experiment and I was blown away by what these incredible cheese minds have produced. Every single truckle was interesting, unique and technically excellent and we had some really out-there entries among them. We’ll be taking so much inspiration and learning back to Home Farm. I hope this is just the beginning for Affineur of the Year, as there’s so much fun we can have with softs, blues, goats and everything in between!”
This brand-new experiment in cheese aging began in May 2021, when 10 3-month-old 27kg truckles of Quicke’s cheddar arrived in maturing rooms across the country. While seeking to bring out the best of the milk from Quicke’s lush pastures, the competitors have brought their decades of experience to bear on each truckle, using a combination of science and artistry. For more visit quickes.co.uk