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Hero Hirsh - Academy of Cheese Level Two

We have been proudly pioneering the Academy of Cheese since it began in 2014. A not-for-profit, industry-funded organisation, The Academy of Cheese promotes cheese knowledge for the cheese-loving public and provides career development for those working within the industry.

There are four levels; culminating in the highly qualified and industry-accredited role of Master of Cheese. Our Managing Director, Ros Windsor is one of the founding members and we have four qualified tutors within our team.  

Hero Hirsh, our Head of Retail is the first person to pass the new Academy of Cheese Level Two! We get her thoughts on the course and her ambition to become a "Master of Cheese"...

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Congratulations on being the first person to pass Level Two! Did you enjoy the course?

Thanks! I was part of the test group that were helping the Academy to test out the course content, and was also intending that Paxton & Whitfield would become trainers for level 2, so I had to consider each aspect of the course from 3 angles; student, teacher and guinea pig. That meant there were no shortcuts; I was carrying round flashcards for weeks before the exam and roping in friends and colleagues to test me.

You’ve been working with cheese for over 11 years, did Level Two teach you anything that you didn’t already know?

Definitely. Having worked in cheese for so long, I have a greater breadth of knowledge than depth. It gave me a deeper understanding of the detail of cheesemaking; different breeds of cheese making animals and even a few new cheeses 

You also teach the Academy of Cheese Level One. Do you prefer teaching or learning about cheese?

I feel they go hand in hand. Every time I teach the class I learn something new. That's the brilliant thing about furthering cheese education, it's about sharing knowledge within the industry. 

Do you get to taste cheese as part of the Level Two course?

Of course! The structured approach to tasting cheese is intrinsic. With 100 cheeses to study, there is a nice balance of classroom tasting and delicious homework. 

Who would you recommend the course to?

When I first saw the standards for level two, I thought that it would only interest people within the industry. However, if teaching level one has taught me anything, there is a huge appetite for passionate amateurs to explore the cheese world in more detail.

 

We recently released the first dates for our 2-day Academy of Cheese Level 2 training course and the course sold out within a week! It's so rewarding to see how many of our Level 1 participants want to come back and study Level 2.  

There are 4 levels of the course. How can there be so much to learn about cheese?       

Every time I learn something new about cheese, it becomes clear how much I still don’t know! Also there are so many varieties - each one having a unique story to learn.

After passing all 4 levels, you become a Master of Cheese. Are you planning to achieve this and what does this accreditation mean to the industry?

I definitely want to become a Master of Cheese. Whilst the terms of the master of cheese is not yet fully outlined, it will likely involve original research that will benefit and further the cheese industry as a whole. This is a model that is incredibly successful in the wine industry and I think that passionate cheese professionals contributing knowledge to our industry is a hugely positive thing.

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Our Academy of Cheese training courses take place in historic Jermyn Street, London close to our flagship store and the price includes a light lunch and refreshments. Find out more about the upcoming Academy of Cheese courses here.

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