Cheese course

By
Editor
Added
01 December, 2017

Paxton & Whitfield are renowned for their exceptional cheeses. We chatted to the world famous Jermyn Street shop’s manager, Hero Hirsh to find out more about the world of a cheesemonger.

**Scroll down to enter our competition to WIN a Paxton & Whitfield Truly Great gift box**



How did you get into working with cheese? 

Looking back, it seemed the natural thing to do. I’ve always been fascinated by cheese and I started working at Paxton & Whitfield to find out more, and it grew from there. 

Was this your first job? 

No, I trained as a pastry chef before becoming a cheesemonger. I loved the work but the hours were tough – up to 80 hours a week! I took a Saturday job in a cheese shop while at catering college because we didn’t learn much about cheese on the course. 

Do you ever miss the restaurant kitchen? 

The great thing about my job is that I still work with chefs and talk about food as we supply cheese to 150 restaurants and hotels. Most of them are local, and we still do many deliveries by foot. The shop has been in Jermyn Street for over 200 years – we gained our first Royal Warrant to Queen Victoria in 1850. 

Describe a typical day 

Everyone probably says this, but there’s no such thing as a typical day. This morning I’ve taken delivery of a new fridge, a new phone system and some new cheeses. I work alongside a wholesale, retail and cellar team and generally help where I’m needed most. I also work on interesting projects, like our Academy of Cheese.  I spend as much time as I can behind the cheese counter as I love talking to customers. 

Tell us a bit about that

It’s very satisfying to help customers find a cheese they love. Tasting has a huge appeal and we do a lot of that in the shop. And while someone may love cheddar we can introduce them to something they’ve not tried before – for example, we’re selling now a Montgomery’s cheddar, which, I think, is the best the maker Jamie has made in years. When we buy it for the shop, we’ll go down to the dairy and try lots – we will then buy an entire day’s make so that the batch we sell in the shop is exactly the same. Our customers love this. 

What’s big in cheese right now? 

Cheese trends move slowly, which is also part of its charm. Our customers are getting interested in unpasturised cheeses as they learn more about them. I also wonder if there will be a shift towards buying British cheeses – as a nation we make some fantastic cheese. Kern cheese from Lynher Dairies (who also make Cornish Yarg) has recently won Supreme Champion at the 2017 World Cheese Awards. 

What are your favourites? 

I am yet to find a cheese style that I don’t like! I love a hard goat’s cheese or a stilton, and there’s a lovely soft cheese called St Felicien, which comes in a little pot to stop it running away. It’s a double cream cheese that is liquid at room temperature. It’s a really indulgent cheese.  

Will that be on your table for Christmas? 

Of course! Christmas for us kicks off in September so I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. My top tip for anyone buying cheese at Christmas is to buy the cheese you love, plus maybe one or two surprises. Comte is a real crowd pleaser but is a little different so is a good one to try. And, I love our Make Your Own Brie with truffles kit. That makes a quirky gift on its own or in a hamper. 

Finally, as we have a library full of recipes, we have to ask, what’s your favourite recipe when cooking with cheese? 

I love a Tartiflette. It’s traditionally made with Reblochon. But at this time of year I also love it with Rollright, which is a totally delicious and quite new cheese made in the UK. 



We’re offering one lucky person a Paxton & Whitfield’s Truly Great: a classic selection of five cheeses designed to make a truly great cheeseboard. Presented in a Paxton & Whitfield gift box, this will delight your guests – or keep it to yourself!



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