We'd love to hear from you

Please just provide your email address and let us know how we can be of service.

We'll be back in touch as soon as we can.

88b Walcot Street
Bath, England, BA1 5BD
United Kingdom

Freshly Ground PR is a PR and marketing agency based in Bath, specialising in independent food and drink, hospitality and lifestyle brands.

top.jpg

Press RELEASES

Here are some of the latest press releases from the people we work with. If you’re a journalist, blogger or writer and would like more information, images or samples, please get in touch.


 

Clothbound Cheddar stars at Great Taste, as Quicke’s lands five awards

Amy Brice

Mary Quicke

Devon-based cheesemaker, Quicke’s has been named among the winners at Great Taste 2019, taking five honours at the world’s most coveted food and drink awards. Standing out from the crowd as a record-breaking 12,772 entries were put through the competition’s rigorous blind-tasting judging process, Quicke’s Cheddar impressed the judges yet again, as both Mature Clothbound Cheddar and Vintage Clothbound Cheddar took home Great Taste stars.

Earning plaudits from the panel some 45 years since the first truckles left the cheese stores at Home Farm, these award-winning cheddars represent Quicke’s continuing dedication to the art of cheesemaking. From its hybrid cows and carefully honed blend of grass varieties to its time-honoured cheesemaking process and continually refined grading system, every element of the process has been enhanced over the decades, as science and the senses come together in pursuit of greatness.

Other Great Taste award winning wedges include Quicke’s Goat’s Milk Clothbound Cheese, a vibrant and buttery 6-month matured hard cheese made using locally sourced goat’s milk, and Lady Prue, Quicke’s first ever mixed milk cheese, named after Mary Quicke’s mother, who first established the dairy at Home Farm. Completing the line-up, Quicke’s Slightly Salted Cow’s Whey Butter also achieved a 1-star award, as judges enjoyed the time-honoured recipe of grass-fed cows’ milk and whey cream leftover from the cheesemaking process, recognised by the Slow Food UK movement as one of the UK’s great ‘forgotten foods’.

Mary Quicke MBE (pictured above) commented:

“It’s always an honour to receive recognition for your craft, but when you know how robust the judging process is first hand, it’s even more gratifying. Great Taste plays such an important role in helping speciality food producers compete in a marketplace driven by economies of scale and big brands, and each year the list of winners highlights how it’s the smaller scale artisan producers that still set the benchmark for quality. For us cheddar makers, Great Taste stars remind people that cheddar should not just be seen as the commodity option. Cheddar is a broad church and the finest truckles are among the world’s best, so we’d like to see more and more people experiment with their cheese choices and discover that there’s a cheddar for every occasion.”

For more information about Quicke's, visit www.quickes.co.uk.

Great Taste results announced, with 50 countries winning stars

Amy Brice

Photo credit: Sam Pelly Photography.

Photo credit: Sam Pelly Photography.

Following 75 days of judging and a record breaking 12,772 entries, the results of the world’s most coveted food and drink awards, Great Taste, have been released, with producers from 50 different countries now celebrating. Having received entries from 104 nations this year, including 27 member countries of the EU, this global recognition of the Great Taste accreditation highlights Britain’s leading position in speciality food and drink worldwide, as uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future trade relationships continues.

With international entries increasing year-on-year, all blind-tasted alongside products from the UK, the consistent success of British producers pays testament to the exceptional quality of the nation’s food and drink. Every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is represented among this year’s stars, as artisan makers continue to shine through.

Great Taste 3-star winners from the UK include; St Andrews Farmhouse Cheddar, a buttery 9-12 month matured unpasteurised cows’ milk cheese by St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company in Fife; a “smooth, perfectly balanced and umami rich” Black Garlic Miso, which is produced by Craic Foods Limited in Armagh; the “clean, sophisticated and easy drinking” 4.5% ABV Keeved Bottle-Conditioned Cider, produced by Seidr y Mynydd in Cardiff; and a handmade single variety Blaisdon Red Plum Jam produced by Gloucester-based Artisan Kitchen, which uses rare, heritage, Gloucester-sourced Blaisdon Red Plums from ancient, private orchards to create a “dark and velvety” jam, which “wraps around the tongue like a blanket” and is “like eating a plum right off the tree”.

Great Taste 3-star winners from around the world feature; a “light, clean and complex” Organic Thyme Honey produced by THE FAMILY BEEZ from Serifos Island, Greece, reminiscent of “parched Greek countryside with hints of drying thyme and warmth”; Matsesta Tea Factory’s “wonderfully complex” Premium Black Organic Matsesta Tea, which is grown and hand-harvested in Sochi, delivering a “natural sweetness with hints of malt and chocolate”; and the super-satiating, nutrient and mineral rich, Mount Mayon Premium Pili Nuts Kerala Coconut Curry from Hong Kong-based The Passionate Food Company, using a “well-balanced blend of flavours” to achieve a product that is “rich, creamy and aromatic with an original flavour”.

While these producers revel in their success and begin displaying the unmistakable gold and black Great Taste logo, with 1-, 2- or 3- stars, on their award-winning products, they will wait with much anticipation to see if they also scoop the top awards for their region. These final honours, including the Great Taste 2019 Supreme Champion, will be announced at the Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner on Sunday 1 September, to be held at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel, London.

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is honey, kombucha, coffee or bread being judged, all products are removed from their packaging before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.

The panel of judges this year included; cook, writer and champion of sustainable food, Melissa Hemsley, Kenny Tutt, MasterChef 2018 champion, author, Olia Hercules, chef and food writer, Gill Meller, Kavi Thakar from Dishoom, food writer and stylist, Georgina Hayden and author and chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, as well as food buyers from Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Sourced Market and Partridges. These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners to finally agree on the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2019 Supreme Champion.

Details of this year’s winners can be found at www.greattasteawards.co.uk and a wide range of award winning products are available to buy in delis, farm shops and independent retail outlets across the country.

The new essential for home cooks, spreadable butter strikes gold in the kitchen

Amy Brice

Cooking

Whether roasting potatoes, frying eggs or making sauces, A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil is set to be a game changer for curious cooks and butter lovers alike. Combining butter with cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil for the very first time, this pioneering spreadable butter from The Butterworks is both convenient and versatile, bringing a gloriously golden tubful of culinary possibilities to fridges across the UK.

With a mild nutty flavour, vibrant colour and silky-smooth texture, A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil adds a delightful taste of the British summertime to both sweet and savoury dishes. Working with only four ingredients, including The Butterworks’ Sweet Cream Butter, Hillfarm’s totally unrefined Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, salt and water, The Butter Boffins use cold mix technology to retain all the natural characteristics and nutritional benefits of Hillfarm’s finest.

Ready to spread, grease and stir-in straight from the fridge, this spreadable butter also has a higher burn point than normal butters thanks to the addition of cold pressed rapeseed oil, making it perfect for flawless frying and remarkable roast potatoes. The rich, creamy butter brings bags of flavour, while also preventing sticking, meaning that A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil is a one-tub solution for speedy suppers, comforting bakes, velvety sauces and zingy salad dressings.

Boasting cholesterol blocking plant sterols and the correct balance of brain enhancing Omegas 3, 6 and 9, as well as promoting healthy eyes and skin from natural Vitamin E and K, this spreadable butter brings a wide variety of health benefits to the table. Nourishing, vibrant and versatile, this brand new butter is a tasty and convenient option for those looking to feed themselves and their families a balanced diet.

A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil is available from Waitrose stores around the UK, RRP £2.00 (250g). The Butterworks’ Cornish Butter, which is hand-salted with Cornish sea salt crystals, is also available from Waitrose, RRP £2.00 (250g), and The Butterworks’ Softer Butter block is available from Morrisons, RRP £2.00 (250g).

For more information on The Butterworks, visit www.thebutterworks.co.uk.

World Cheese Awards open for entry dates announced

Amy Brice

Carlos Yescas

The World Cheese Awards will open for entry from Monday 22 July, with organisers, the Guild of Fine Food calling for cheesemakers across the globe to submit their products into the largest cheese-only competition on the planet. Dedicated only to cheese, with no other dairy products judged, the World Cheese Awards will take place in Italy for the very first time on Friday 18 October, forming part of the FORME cheese festival in Bergamo.

Following another record-breaking number of entries in 2018, more than 3,500 entries are expected in Lombardy this year, making their way from over 40 different countries in six continents. The global cheese community will gather to judge all entries in a single day, bringing together cheesemakers, retailers, buyers, consumers and food commentators in a truly international celebration of all things cheese.

Providing a global platform for cheesemaking excellence, from multi award-winners to tiny artisans, the World Cheese Awards will give Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold awards, as its 230-strong judging panel directs buyers everywhere to the world’s top cheese. An international Super Jury will then debate the best of the best live on WCA TV, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.

As the fourth edition of FORME plays host to an epic gathering of cheese and cheese people, over 40,000 visitors will be given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the World Cheese Awards action, with a free exhibition of previous World Champion Cheeses and tickets available to witness the judging unfold live and to join tasting tours over the weekend. Taking place in the medieval heart of Bergamo and beyond, FORME will also feature a bustling consumer cheese festival and the brand new international dairy trade show, B2Cheese, providing the perfect setting for the cheese community to network, taste and debate, as connections are made and business gets done.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, explains:

“We’re enormously excited to be visiting Italy for the first time this October, joining forces with FORME to stage the biggest event in this year’s global cheese calendar. The World Cheese Awards grows in scale and reach year-on-year, but we never lose sight of what it’s all about – celebrating the work of small artisan cheesemakers – so we’re hoping for more entries from more countries than ever before in 2019. The Lombardy region has undoubted cheesemaking credentials and I can’t think of a better setting for the cheese world to gather once again, as we applaud cheesemaking excellence and shine a spotlight on the region’s Cheese Valleys during Bergamo’s time as a UNESCO Creative Cities candidate.”

The World Cheese Awards will be open for entry from Monday 22 July until Monday 9 September, unless the entry cap is reached before this date – early entry is recommended. Producers can enter online at www.gff.co.uk/wca.

The World Cheese Awards will take place on Friday 18 October, forming part of the FORME festival in Bergamo, which will run from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 October.

Cheese Industry Award presented to Mary Quicke at British Cheese Awards 2019

Amy Brice

Mary Quicke with cows

Mary Quicke MBE from Devon-based Clothbound Cheddar producer, Quicke’s, has been honoured with the prestigious Cheese Industry Award at the British Cheese Awards 2019. Announced at the British Cheese Awards Dinner during the Royal Bath & West Show on Wednesday 29 May, the trophy presentation was followed by news of five further awards landed by Quicke’s during this year’s competition.

Recognising individuals who have provided an invaluable contribution to cheese, the annual Cheese Industry Award was presented to Mary for her impact on the industry, particularly the recent development of the Academy of Cheese, with its promise to transform how cheese is sold across the globe with its training programmes.

Mary took over the reins of the family farm in 1987. The following years have seen huge steps forward at Home Farm, from the switch to specially bred cows and the introduction of the kiwi grazing system to the development of an eco-friendly cheese mite management system, while collaborations, educational initiatives and experiments have kept Quicke’s at the forefront of the British cheese movement.

Always ready to immerse herself into new projects within the wider cheese community, Mary received an MBE for her contribution to farming and cheesemaking in 2005, became a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers in 2016 and was instrumental in the establishment of the Academy of Cheese in 2017. Mary has contributed her palate to cheese competitions throughout the world, including the British Cheese Awards, World Cheese Awards and American Cheese Society Awards, and also sits on the board at both the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) Dairy Sector.

Among the other awards picked up by Quicke’s during this year’s British Cheese Awards, the rich and rounded 18-month matured Extra Mature Clothbound Cheddar won Gold, as did Oak Smoked Clothbound Cheddar, which is cold smoked using oak chips from trees grown on the Quicke’s estate. Vintage Clothbound Cheddar and Goat’s Milk Clothbound Cheese landed Silver accolades, while Elderflower Clothbound Cheese was awarded a Bronze.

Mary Quicke MBE commented:

“Following a day tasting some of the best cheese in the land at the British Cheese Awards, I’m absolutely blown away to have received this trophy. British cheese has boomed, so to be singled out as someone who has made a contribution to this movement is truly an honour. For me, great cheesemaking starts in the soft boundary between admiration and partnership with the land, and I’m delighted to see more and more artisan cheesemakers making wonderful cheeses from the ground up. It was great also to judge for the Young Cheesemonger Award, to see the passionate and knowledgeable young people coming on. The future is bright for British cheese and at Quicke’s, we’ll continue to be driven by the pursuit of great cheesemaking, farming like we’re going to live forever.”

Julius Longman, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, added:

“Mary is a pioneer in cheddar and cheesemaking, so we’re absolutely delighted to be honouring her with this year’s Cheese Industry Award. A driving force in all things cheese, Mary has contributed so much to the industry, including her role in recent formation of the Academy of Cheese. Mary’s passion shines through in everything she does, whether on the farm, judging at the British Cheese Awards or flying the flag for British cheese overseas, so we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this year’s trophy.”

For more information about Quicke's, visit www.quickes.co.uk.

New butters on the block… The Butterworks has scones, croissants and crumpets covered

Amy Brice

Butter

Churned, blended and crafted with serious butter lovers in mind, Softer Butter and Cornish Butter with Cornish Sea Salt crystals from The Butterworks bring both convenience and dairy indulgence to the kitchen. Following years of development, working with just two ingredients, the Butter Boffins have created a rich and creamy celebration of Cornwall and an award-winning slightly salted butter that spreads straight from the fridge.

Research undertaken by Campden BRI has shown that this Softer Butter is at least fifty percent softer than all other butter brands when spread straight from the fridge, reflecting The Butterworks’ imagination, innovation and determination to produce a better bit of butter. Using only butter and salt, the Butter Boffins have used their extensive expertise and know-how to develop a churning technique that creates a naturally softer butter, with no artificial colours or flavours added. Rich and well-balanced, Softer Butter is perfect for baking, lunch boxes and speedy sandwiches before heading out.

Inspired by the dramatic Cornish coast and countryside, The Butterworks’ Cornish Butter with Cornish Sea Salt crystals is the ultimate traditional table butter, creamy and delicious however it is enjoyed. Carefully churned in Cornwall, the cream is then hand-salted with Cornish Sea Salt Company sea salt crystals, delivering a mouth-watering crunch and enhancing the butter’s velvety texture.

The Butterworks’ Softer Butter block is available from Morrisons, RRP £2.00 (250g), and Cornish Butter with Cornish Sea Salt crystals is available from Waitrose, RRP £2.00 (250g). Completing The Butterworks’ range, A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil is available from Waitrose, RRP £2.00 (250g).

For more information on The Butterworks, visit www.thebutterworks.co.uk.

Academy of Cheese dates announced at Quicke’s, as the farm becomes the classroom

Amy Brice

Academy of Cheese

Devon-based Clothbound Cheddar producer, Quicke’s is set to become the first cheesemaker to hold Academy of Cheese training courses on a working farm, with a series of dates due to get underway later this year. The Academy’s latest training partner, Quicke’s will run the Level 1: Associate one-day course, offering cheese lovers and cheesemongers the chance to improve their knowledge, take a tour of Home Farm and gain a recognised certification.

Delivered by cheese-broadcaster, cheesemonger and Academy-certified trainer, Sam Wilkin, the Level 1 course will cover cheesemaking, provenance, terminology and more. The day will begin with a guided tour, witnessing cheesemaking in action, visiting the ‘cathedral of cheese’ and meeting the specially-bred Quicke’s cows, before the notebooks come out for a lesson in everything from ingredients and production to maturing, affinage and grading.

Open to everyone, with no previous experience required, the course will introduce a structured approach to tasting as the group makes its way through 25 classic cheeses. Learning Le Gruyère from Gorgonzola in the home of Clothbound Cheddar, the session will be supported by home study and further tasting, before delegates undertake a multiple choice exam paper.

Instrumental in the formation of the Academy of Cheese in 2017, which was established to promote cheese knowledge and support career development, Mary Quicke MBE will now bring the certification to Devon for the first time. Giving curd nerds an opportunity to immerse themselves in both cheese theory and the practical cheesemaking process, this course can be the first step on a journey to become a fully-certified Master of Cheese.

The first Academy of Cheese Level 1: Associate training courses to be hosted by Quicke’s will take place on 24 September 2019, 26 November 2019 and 25 February 2020, running from 9am to 4:30pm.

Tickets can be purchased from Eventbrite and cost £195 per person, which includes access to the Academy of Cheese Level 1 online knowledge base, study materials and Cheese Library.

For more information about Quicke's, visit www.quickes.co.uk.

World Cheese Awards to be hosted by FORME festival in Bergamo, Italy

Amy Brice

FORME

Visiting Italy for the very first time, the World Cheese Awards will be held in Bergamo on Friday 18 October, forming part of the city’s annual cheese festival, FORME. A four day celebration of cheese set in the Medieval heart of Bergamo and beyond, this year’s FORME will play host to over 3,500 entries from six continents, as the international cheese community gathers for the 32nd edition of the competition.

As 250 experts nose, taste and deliberate entries from more than 40 different countries, FORME’s 40,000 visitors will be given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the World Cheese Awards action. Festivalgoers will be able to buy tickets to witness the judging unfold live, as all entries are assessed in a single day to find this year’s World Champion Cheese, with tasting tours then held in the judging hall over the weekend.

For the first time ever, an exhibition of previous World Champion Cheeses will be staged showcasing the rich heritage of the competition, held at the Palazzo della Ragione in the centre of Bergamo’s Città Alta. Downstairs under the loggia, which opens out into the square, a bustling market will honour the region’s Cheese Valleys, while FORME’s conference programme, training sessions and tastings led by ONAF (The Italian National Organization of Cheese Tasters) experts get underway in many of the other historic buildings set within the iconic Venetian walls of the upper town.

Taking its place at the centre of the cheese world this October, Bergamo will open its doors to cheese lovers, cheesemakers, cheesemongers and cheese people from across the globe, as the largest cheese-only competition on the planet comes to town.

The World Cheese Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, will take place on Friday 18 October, forming part of the FORME festival in Bergamo, which will run from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 October.

Tickets to attend selected FORME events, including those associated with the World Cheese Awards, will be available to purchase online from www.progettoforme.eu by summer 2019, while many other events within the FORME schedule will be free of charge.

For more information about the World Cheese Awards, visit www.gff.co.uk/wca.

The Butterworks launches first Spreadable Butter made with Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

Amy Brice

A+Blend+of+Butter

Bringing a tubful of health benefits to fridges across the UK, The Butterworks has created the nation’s first ever spread using a blend of butter and Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil. Teaming up with Hillfarm Oils, one of the first UK farms to grow, press and bottle its own cold pressed rapeseed oil, the freshest butter brand on the block has produced A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, a gloriously golden spread with cholesterol reducing and immune system boosting credentials.

Beginning a new wave in Spreadable Butter, the Butter Boffins from Caerphilly have partnered with Suffolk-based Hillfarm, a family-run farm established in 1967. Beautifully golden with a mild nutty taste, Hillfarm’s Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil is totally unrefined to retain its vibrant colour, nutritional benefits and natural flavour, and has also been carefully selected by The Butterworks team for its traceability and versatility.

Containing a lower level of saturated fat than many other commonly available oils that are often used in tubs of Spreadable Butter, Hillfarm’s finest boasts a whole host of nutritional properties, preserved from the crop through a natural process of cold pressing the seeds. These include cholesterol blocking plant sterols and the correct balance of brain enhancing Omegas 3, 6 and 9, while the oil is also a rich source of Vitamin E and K, which promote healthy eyes and skin.

Carefully blended with The Butterworks’ specially selected Sweet Cream Butter, a little salt and water, the cold pressed rapeseed oil is one of only four ingredients that are poured into this deliciously light spreadable butter, which has no artificial colours or flavours. To retain the nutritional benefits of the cold pressed rapeseed oil, The Butterworks uses cold mix technology to bring all of the ingredients together without adding any heat to the process.

Easy to spread straight from the fridge into sandwiches and perfect for roasting and frying due to its high burn point, A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm is a convenient and tasty option for those looking to feed themselves and their families a delicious, balanced and healthy diet.

A Blend of Butter with Hillfarm Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil is available from Waitrose stores around the UK, RRP £2.00 (250g). The Butterworks’ Cornish Butter, which is hand-salted with Cornish sea salt crystals, is also available from Waitrose, RRP £2.00 (250g), and The Butterworks Softer Butter block is available from Morrisons, RRP £2.00 (250g).

For more information on The Butterworks, visit www.thebutterworks.co.uk.

Food and drink start-ups are good to grow, as The Seed Fund announces Class of 2019

Amy Brice

The Seed Fund 2019

With a line-up intent on shaking up the shopping basket, The Seed Fund has announced its Class of 2019, revealing the 14 food and drink start-ups that have been invited to join its summer Academy. Now in its seventh year, the philanthropic organisation will unite these ambitious entrepreneurs with top mentors from across the industry, during an intensive programme designed to transform big ideas into big business.

Reflecting the nation’s shifting tastes, this year’s Academy is brimming with innovative combinations, new creations and fresh takes on kitchen classics. Featuring dairy-free cheese, fermented foods, switchels and cold-pressed juices made with wonky fruit and vegatables, many in the group are responding to the changing face of food and drink, while makers of tomato ketchup, peanut butter, spritzers and vinegars plan to take traditional favourites to a new level. Bone broth and beef-based snack bars bring some meat into the mix, with avocado oils, tahini butters, frozen meals for infants and biscuits for beverages completing the list.

The Seed Fund Academy’s Class of 2019 includes:

  • Borough Broth Co., London – organic bone broths

  • Bottlebrush Ferments, London – raw fermented foods

  • Dr Wills, London – all natural condiments

  • Flawsome!, Cardiff – cold-pressed juices made from imperfect fruit and vegetables

  • Hunter & Gather, London – avocado oil mayonnaise and cold pressed avocado oil

  • Kinda Co., London – dairy-free cheese

  • Mamamade, London – nutritious frozen meals for babies

  • Manilife, London – peanut butter

  • Prime Bar, West Yorkshire – snack bars made with grass-fed beef, fruits, herbs and spices

  • Sead Foods, Newcastle-under-Lyme – sesame seed spreads

  • SilverSwift, Bath – gin and vodka spritzers

  • The Drinks Bakery, Edinburgh – savoury snacks flavour-profiled to complement drinks

  • Vinegar Shed, London – vinegars, olive oils, herbs, spices, peppers, salts and more

  • Zingibear, Lake District – apple cider vinegar and ginger switchels

These budding businesses will now embark on a game-changing series of workshops, seminars, industry visits and one-on-one sessions with mentors including Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic, the Guild of Fine Food’s John Farrand, Camilla Barnard from Rude Health and Emma Murphy of Sourced Market. Run in partnership with Great Taste, the world’s most coveted food awards, the Academy will cover branding, funding, finance, PR, social media, law and more, during a comprehensive accelerator programme designed to help these products find space on the crowded shelves.

Following a summer of learning and development, a brand new investment Pitch Day will be held at Piper Private Equity in Notting Hill, where the business owners will have an opportunity to secure funding for their brands. One eventual Academy winner will also be announced at the Great Taste Golden Forks Dinner in London this autumn, awarded a further year of business support and brand development, estimated to be worth over £100,000.

For more information about The Seed Fund, visit www.theseedfund.co.uk.

A wedge from the hedge, Elderflower Cheese captures summer’s botanical bounty

Amy Brice

Elderflower cheese

Hand-crafted during the first burst of summer, Elderflower Clothbound Cheese from Devon-based cheesemaker, Quicke’s is a seasonal cheese like no other. Combining early summer’s grass-fed cow’s milk with the elder tree’s botanical bloom, this 6-month matured cheese is a joyous celebration of the land at this special time of year, from the lush pastures to the hedgerows that weave their way around Home Farm.

A truly unique cheese, born from a desire to make the most of nature’s larder, Elderflower Clothbound Cheese owes much to the ageless hedgerows that the Quicke family has maintained since the sixteenth century. Working with local foragers to greedily gather the spoils from this ancient plant, Quicke’s then blends the elderflower into the cheesemaking process to achieve a fresh, buttery cheese with delicate floral notes.

Steeped in tradition while breaking the mould, Quicke’s Elderflower Clothbound Cheese can bring a taste of the British summer to the table, whatever the time of year. Rich and aromatic, the cheese finds a perfect pair in a cool glass of Prosecco, better still enjoyed during a hazy sun-drenched picnic along with charcuterie and pickles.

Quicke’s Elderflower Clothbound Cheese is available to purchase from www.quickes.co.uk (200g £5.30, 500g £12.00), as well as from many independent retailers across the UK.

Female founders flourish in food and drink, as The Seed Fund reports industry shift

Amy Brice

Female founders

Philanthropic start-up accelerator, The Seed Fund has revealed a growing trend for new food and drink businesses to be run by women, with 58.2% of entries into this year’s Academy coming from female entrepreneurs. Continuing a theme in entry demographics reaching back into 2016, when only 46.2% of entries were submitted by female founders, the past four years have seen a steady shift in the gender of applicants, jumping by 5% in the last year alone.

Providing a snapshot of the future for the UK and Ireland’s food and drink scene, The Seed Fund Academy’s entry list is a smorgasbord of innovation and ambition, with fledgling businesses both responding to the nation’s changing tastes and looking to shake things up in the shopping basket. Brands falling into the Free From category make up 17% of entries and 14% of products have been developed for the vegan market, while the list also includes yuzu drinks, bone broth, lotus seed snacks and apiary-to-jar honey.

These applications will now be reviewed, before a shortlist of 24 is invited to pitch to The Seed Fund’s panel in mid-April. Presenting to mentors including Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic, the Guild of Fine Food’s John Farrand, Camilla Barnard from Rude Health and Emma Murphy of Sourced Market, these fledgling businesses will make their case for a place on this year’s Academy.

Run in partnership with Great Taste, the world’s most coveted food awards, the seventh edition of The Seed Fund Academy will take 12 start-ups through a packed schedule covering branding, funding, finance, PR, social media and more, culminating in a brand new investment Pitch Day held at Piper Private Equity in Notting Hill, where the business owners will have an opportunity to secure funding for their brands. One eventual Academy winner will also be awarded a further year of business support and brand development, estimated to be worth over £100,000.

Jayne Noblet of The Collaborators, founder of The Seed Fund, comments:

“Our batch of entries this year is so exciting, featuring everything from dairy free cheese and plant based seafood alternatives to fermented sauces and medicinal mushrooms. A growing number also have social responsibility at the core of their propositions, including tree planting schemes, donations to homeless charities and finding uses for ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables. It’s great to be witnessing the changing face of food and drink first hand and we can’t wait to meet some of the people behind these ideas. The rise in entries from female entrepreneurs has also been striking over recent years, now making up a significant majority, and this is refreshing to see, particularly for myself and the other female founders on The Seed Fund’s mentoring panel. It’s tough out there, in a marketplace where 90% of food and drink start-ups currently fail, but we set out to provide the knowledge, mentoring and opportunities to navigate those challenging early years, and make space on the shelves for great brands run by great people.”

The Seed Fund Academy’s Class of 2019 will be announced in May, with this year’s winner due to be unveiled at the Great Taste Golden Forks Dinner in London this autumn.

For more information about The Seed Fund, visit www.theseedfund.co.uk.

Shop of the Year 2019 winners announced

Amy Brice

Shop of the Year

On Monday 11 March, the Guild of Fine Food crowned the UK’s best independent retailers, as Shop of the Year 2019 reached its exciting finale. Established to recognise and promote excellence in independent retail, the rigorously judged accreditation scheme presented seven trophies at Fodder Farm Shop and Café in Harrogate, where the world of fine food gathered to find out the winners of each category.

Following two rounds of judging, which included an announced visit from one of the expert judges and a mystery shop by customer experience specialists, Insight6, Leamington Spa-based Aubrey Allen won the Delicatessen & Grocer category, Sheridans Cheesemongers in Dublin scooped best Specialist Cheese Shop and Perthshire-based The House of Bruar was named winner of the Food Hall award. Representing the North of England, Farmer Copleys in Pontefract took top honours in the Farm Shop category, while the trophy for Specialist Food or Drink Shop went to Gateshead-based Block & Bottle.

Visiting 45 finalists on the hunt for this year’s independent retail stars, the panel of judges found excellence in every corner of the UK before giving out the gongs. The winners ranged from community-focused family businesses like Aubrey Allen, which was established in 1933 and shone through with its “balanced retail flow, where shoppers can stock up for a dinner party, while also grabbing something for lunch”, to pioneers of Irish cheese, Sheridans Cheesemongers, described as “key to the growth in farmhouse cheesemaking in Ireland.” Applauded by the judges for “bringing really good quality cheese to a wider audience”, Sheridans received high praise on everything from its biodegradable packaging and materials to its work with key suppliers to create unique cheeses.

Stocking a wide range of meat and vegetables reared and grown on the family-run farm, alongside locally sourced produce and pies, baked goods and ready meals made on site, Farmer Copleys was praised for staying “true to its roots, while engaging with the local community and hosting an ‘exciting’ line up of seasonal events”, while The House of Bruar was commended for its ‘‘delightful, attentive and knowledgeable staff”, as well as its “impressive smoked salmon display, exemplary butchery skills and range of successful brands”. Opened in 2017, Block & Bottle caught the judges’ attention with an impressive range of local, national and international craft beer and meat from within a 60-mile radius. The “concept, execution and energy” of owners Katie and Stephen came in for special mention, with judges dubbing them an “inspirational and entrepreneurial couple with spirit and compassion”.

From overall shopping experience and financial performance to staff training opportunities and environmental initiatives in place, the panel of judges, which includes Edward Berry of The Flying Fork, Stuart Gates, former managing director at Fortnum & Mason and senior buyer at Harrods, award-winning retailer Tracey Colley and food writer, Patrick McGuigan, rated, scored and provided feedback on every aspect of the shops before agreeing on an overall category winner.

Shop of the Year 2020 is now open for entry at gff.co.uk/awards/shop-of-the-year, with independent retailers across the UK invited to submit a written submission for the following categories; Delicatessen & Grocer; Specialist Cheese Shop; Farm Shop (farmer owned); Food Hall; Specialist Food or Drink Shop.

Shop of the Year 2019 winners and runners up

Delicatessen & Grocer sponsored by The Tracklement Company

Aubrey Allen, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Runners up:

The Mainstreet Trading Company, Roxburghshire, Scotland

Eat 17, Hammersmith, London

Farm Shop (farmer owned) sponsored by Peter’s Yard

Farmer Copleys, Pontefract, West Yorkshire

Runners up:

Blacker Hall Farm Shop, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Ardross Farm Shop, Elie, Scotland

Food Hall sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP

The House of Bruar, Perthshire, Scotland

Runner up:

Macknade Fine Foods, Faversham, Kent

Specialist Cheese Shop sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP

Sheridans Cheesemongers, Dublin, Ireland

Runner up:

George & Joseph Cheesemongers, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Specialist Food or Drink Shop sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP

Block & Bottle, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

Runners up:

The Hungry Guest, Petworth, West Sussex

The Seasons Forest Row, Forest Row, East Sussex

Special Shop of the Year Awards

Newcomer Award sponsored by Fine Food Digest

Slate, Southwold, Suffolk

Innovation Award sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP

Eat 17, Hammersmith, London

For more information about Shop of the Year, visit gff.co.uk/awards/shop-of-the-year.

Evening and weekend cheese courses announced, exploring provenance, pairing and the palate

Amy Brice

Academy of Cheese

Cheese-lovers can now delve deeper behind the rind and become an Associate of the Academy of Cheese by completing the School of Fine Food’s Level 1 course in their spare time. Introducing its first Saturday course and an evening course run over three weeks, the London-based School of Fine Food, which is run by the Guild of Fine Food, is giving more people the opportunity to expand their cheese knowledge and gain a recognised qualification.

Taking the first step on a journey to become a fully-qualified Master of Cheese, students will cover cheese making, provenance and terminology, as well as taking part in a comprehensive tutored tasting of 25 different cheeses. Designed to help curate an epic cheese board at home or develop a career behind the counter, the fun hands on course is supported by a wealth of cheese-related literature to assist with a little home study and lots more tasting, before students complete their online certification.

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 will take place on the following dates; Saturday 6 April, Thursday 20 June, Wednesday 18 September and Wednesday 6 November. The evening course will run over three consecutive weeks on Tuesday 11, 18 and 25 June from 6:30pm – 9pm.

For more information, visit www.gff.co.uk/cheesecourse.

3-month matured, but 500 years in the making, Buttery Cheddar delivers a true taste of Devon

Amy Brice

Buttery Cheddar

Smooth, rich and miles from mild, Buttery Clothbound Cheddar from Quicke’s is a grass fed wedge that celebrates the best of Devon’s lush pastures. Full of the character and depth that is often associated with more mature cheeses, this youthful and vibrant cheddar reflects the cheesemaker’s many years of care and respect for the land, a corner of England that the Quicke family has nurtured for 14 generations.

Guided by the ethos, ‘farm like you’re going to live forever’, Quicke’s has farmed in harmony with its ancient environment since the 16th century, more recently evolving practices in pursuit of great cheesemaking with the help of modern research and technology. An age-old respect for nature, combined with the introduction of advances such as the kiwi grazing system and specially bred hybrid cows, have led to outstanding milk for cheesemaking, capturing the best expression of the grass, soil and seasons.

Full of the rich creaminess and intensely buttery flavour that is found at the early stages of the maturing process, Buttery Clothbound Cheddar is ready to challenge any cheese lover who thinks top class cheddar must be mature. It may be the baby of the Quicke’s range, but this award-winning wedge owes much to centuries gone by and the spirit of slow at Home Farm that will ensure the land and the cheeses will be around for many years to come.

Quicke’s Buttery Clothbound Cheddar is available to purchase from www.quickes.co.uk (200g £4.25, 500g £8.70, 1.5kg £25.00), as well as from many independent retailers across the UK.

GAIL’s Bakery partners with Quicke’s to cut waste as well as wedges

Amy Brice

GAIL's

GAIL’s Bakery and Quicke’s are now working together to ensure that nothing from the Devon-based cheesemaker’s Clothbound Cheddar goes to waste. With Cheddar, whey butter and offcuts all incorporated into the London bakery’s menu, the bread heads at GAIL’s have now revealed the first batch of recipes inspired by the cheesemaking process.

Beginning with the need for a singularly special slice of cheese for its epic Ham & Cheese Sandwich, GAIL’s has combined Quicke’s Buttery Clothbound Cheddar with roasted ham, mustard butter and its French Dark Sourdough. With the core of the truckle removed to achieve a perfect slice and crumbly bits set aside along the way, GAIL’s has also created a new Cheddar Sourdough Stick to put these cheesy chunks to good use, with the number produced depending on how many Ham & Cheese Sandwiches get sold.

Not content with making use of the whole wheel, the craft bakery is also topping its toast with Quicke’s Whey Butter. Made using a rare heritage recipe and recognised by the Slow Food UK movement as one of the nation’s great ‘Forgotten Foods’, the butter combines the finest milk from Quicke’s grass-fed cows with whey cream, a by-product of the cheesemaking process which many drain away.

This latest waste cutting initiative comes just months after GAIL’s launched the UK’s first loaf made using leftover bread in October. The Waste Bread sourdough, made by turning surplus bread into a porridge which is then added into the dough, represents the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and the reduction of food waste.

United by a shared respect for food and the land which provides, Quicke’s and GAIL’s are committed to making the most of Home Farm’s award-winning Cheddar, a lovingly crafted cheese made from the ground up. With a slice of Devon now firmly behind the counter in bakeries across London, more recipes are set to be announced soon.

GAIL’s Ham & Cheese Sandwich and Cheddar Sourdough Stick, both made using Quicke’s Cheddar, are available to buy from its 48 bakeries across London, as well as online at gailsbread.co.uk. Quicke’s Cheddar can be purchased from www.quickes.co.uk.

Mike Burks announced as Garden Centre Association’s chairman elect for 2020

Amy Brice

Mike Burks GCA Elect

Mike Burks, managing director of The Gardens Group, will become chairman of the Garden Centre Association (GCA) in January 2020, heading up the trade organisation which represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide. Elected by members of the GCA, Mike will work alongside the GCA executive and full board of elected directors to continue the association’s work in building relationships and promoting best practice across the industry.

Mike (pictured above), who has spent the past three decades running three multi award-winning garden centres in Dorset and Somerset, explains:

“I am greatly looking forward to my chairmanship and am lucky that the GCA has been in excellent hands with Mike Lind. With the association in such good shape, I can focus much of my time on driving forward with new initiatives and plan to visit many garden centres, attend meetings and work closely with the team to develop GROW, an e-learning tool that is very close to my heart, to make sure our members can get the most out of this valuable system. As well as sharing membership success stories, such as those of the recently awarded Fron Goch, Perrywood and The Old Railway Line, who also brought some exciting ideas and standards into the GCA, I'm keen to demonstrate the role that the industry can play in protecting wildlife and the environment, as well as bringing people together through plants and gardening to promote better health and wellbeing. We are in an enviable position, in that so many trends and needs of the modern world cross our path, so we need to work together to make the most of these opportunities.”

The Garden Centre Association announced its Chairman elect for 2020/2021 at its annual conference, which was held at the Luton Hoo Hotel on Wednesday 23 January.

For more information about The Gardens Group, visit www.thegardensgroup.co.uk.

Quicke’s to launch first mixed milk cheese into Whole Foods Market

Amy Brice

Lady Prue WFM

One of the UK’s most respected cheesemakers, Quicke’s will launch its first ever mixed milk cheese into several Whole Foods Market stores later this month, with stores across the US set to stock wedges of the 6-month matured clothbound cheese, Lady Prue.

Named after Mary Quicke MBE’s mother, who built the original cheese dairy in Devon, England during the 1970s, Lady Prue has been created exclusively for the US market. Combining goat’s and cow’s milk to produce a youthful, pale and delicate cheese, with a subtle taste of goat and a gentle caramelly hint, the cheese has already landed its first major international award, winning a Silver at the World Cheese Awards in November 2018.

Joining Whole Foods Market’s extensive line-up of cheeses from around the world, Quicke’s newest cheese will be available from stores in the Pacific Northwest, South, North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northern California. One of only a handful of mixed milk cheeses currently being made in the UK, Lady Prue embodies both Quicke’s rich heritage and its continued dedication to experimentation and innovation, bringing a true taste of Devon to cheese counters across the country.

Mary Quicke MBE explains:

“Harking back to the very first truckles made at Home Farm, this cheese encapsulates so much about our past, present and future. My mother, Prue was trained as an artist and later established the dairy – with six children in tow – and it’s her artistry which still runs through the veins of the business today, pushing us to experiment with our craft. This commitment to pushing boundaries led us to mix goat’s and cow’s milk with the US market in mind and we’re delighted to be launching the resulting cheese into Whole Foods Market stores this month. As such big advocates of quality, provenance, sustainability and artisan cheesemaking in general, we couldn’t think of a better home for Lady Prue, so we can’t wait for our truckles to land on US soil and make their way from coast to coast.”

For more information about Quicke's, visit www.quickes.co.uk.

Italy to host World Cheese Awards 2019, as part of FORME festival in Bergamo

Amy Brice

Milan press launch 170119 (1).jpg

The World Cheese Awards will visit Italy for the first time, taking place in Bergamo on Friday 18 October 2019, as part of the city’s annual FORME cheese festival. Announced on Thursday 17 January at a the Palazzo Regione Lombardia in Milan, the main seat of the government for the Lombardy region, the news will see the planet’s largest cheese-only competition join a four day celebration of cheese in the Medieval heart of Bergamo.

Following an epic edition of the World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway in November 2018, where records were broken across the board with 3,472 cheeses from 41 different countries being judged in a single day, the 32nd edition will now be staged in the Capitale Europea dei Formaggi. Reaching out to cheesemakers and cheese experts in every corner of the globe, this year’s line-up is set to be bigger and more diverse than ever before.

As Bergamo plays host to the international cheese community, the World Cheese Awards will shine a spotlight on Lombardy’s culinary culture, giving the region’s producers an opportunity to showcase their food and drink on a world stage. The FORME festival itself will take consumer and trade visitors on a dairy journey, featuring tastings, panel discussions, training sessions, markets and an exhibition of all 50 Italian DOP cheeses.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, commented:

“The World Cheese Awards is extending its international reach year-on-year, so it's very important for us to partner with like-minded organisations that understand the power and potential of this global cheese gathering. Uniting with FORME feels like a very natural fit for us and we're hugely honoured to be bringing the competition to Bergamo in 2019, a beautiful city with a wealth of cheese heritage. With over 200 of the world's top cheese people set to fly in for the awards, Bergamo will become the very heart of the cheese world this October and the world will be watching as the city hosts this global celebration of cheese. We're anticipating yet another record breaking year, hoping to top 3,500 entries for the first time, and are looking forward to working together with the FORME team to create a lasting legacy in the region and raise awareness throughout the food and drink world.”

Francesco Maroni, president of the Progetto Forme, added:

“We are very proud to present the fourth edition of FORME, an event that over the years has been able to impress everyone - institutions, professionals and the public. The numbers from last year are already clear: over 40,000 visitors and participants, with 12,000 kilos of cheese sold and tasted at the market. Without losing sight of the importance of local heritage, this year's edition will see the Italian premiere of the World Cheese Awards, the most prestigious international competition for the best cheeses in the world. This huge event, alongside the new addition of the B2Cheese fair, will serve to promote excellence in production throughout Italy, with the aim of enhancing the reputation of our national cheeses and creating a culture of quality.”

The World Cheese Awards will take place on Friday 18 October 2019, forming part of the FORME festival, which will run from 18-20 October across a number of Bergamo’s most iconic venues.

For more information about the World Cheese Awards, visit www.gff.co.uk/wca.

The Seed Fund Academy opens for entry, reaching out to foragers, bakers, picklers and makers

Amy Brice

Dorset Sea Salt

On a mission to find the UK and Ireland’s future stars of food and drink, The Seed Fund will open for entry on Friday 1 February, offering 12 places on its summer Academy run in partnership with Great Taste, the world’s most coveted food awards. Open to award-winning start-ups and part-time producers alike, The Seed Fund is looking to unearth the hedgerow harvesters, rooftop beekeepers and back garden brewers who are ready to take their budding businesses to the next level.

Now in its seventh year, the entirely philanthropic project is supported by mentors including Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic, the Guild of Fine Food’s John Farrand and Camilla Barnard from Rude Health. Covering branding, funding, finance, PR, social media and much more, these handpicked industry experts will put the Academy through its paces with a game-changing series of workshops, presentations and one-on-one sessions, run between May and September.

Beginning with a hands-on Breaking Bread event at the Guild of Fine Food in London, the Academy will culminate in a brand new investment pitch day held at Piper Private Equity in Notting Hill, where the fledgling producers will have an opportunity to present to the panel and win investment for their brands. One eventual winner also will be awarded a further year of business support and brand development, estimated to be worth over £100,000.

The Seed Fund can accept entries from any food and drink start-ups that have been trading for less than three years, with a turnover under £1,000,000 per annum. The Seed Fund Academy’s Class of 2019 will be announced in May, with this year’s winner due to be unveiled at the Great Taste Golden Fork Awards Dinner in London this autumn.

The Seed Fund will be open for entry from Friday 1 February until Monday 1 April. To apply, visit www.theseedfund.co.uk.