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Studying Virtual Academy of Cheese Level 1 - Week 1 Review

Studying with the Virtual Academy of Cheese Level 1

Our ecommerce manager, Jen is studying for Academy of Cheese Level 1 on one of our virtual courses. Read on for her experience of the Academy of Cheese Level 1 course...


Virtual Academy of Cheese - Week 1

When James, our MD first proposed that all managers within the company should train for Academy of Cheese, I was excited, but I must admit also a little apprehensive! How would I fit in studying in the evenings around looking after my children? Also, there are so many incredibly passionate and talented cheese experts within Paxton & Whitfield, that the extent of their knowledge can be a little daunting – would I be blinded by the cheese science?


As it got closer to the first Wednesday evening of virtual training (there will be three in total), I became increasingly excited about the prospect! I haven’t studied anything particularly for around 10 years and so the opportunity to expand my knowledge in a new area is enticing (particuarly after recognising that my strength is not general knowledge from various family lockdown Zoom quizzes!). My appetite to learn was also fuelled by the first box of Paxton & Whitfield tasting cheese delivered to my door from our London Jermyn Street shop; together with an Academy of Cheese Level 1 training folder and free cheeseboard... and I treated myself to a shiny new notepad ready for my studies!  

Logging onto Zoom at 6pm, it was great to see a small group of friendly faces – 23 of us in total from all across the UK. We each introduced ourselves; where we were zooming from and what our favourite cheese was. There was a broad mix of ages in the group and a variety of different reasons for taking part; from receiving the course as a birthday gift, to increasing food & beverage knowledge for career purposes and simply loving cheese and wanting to learn more about it. After the introductions, our friendly and expert Paxton & Whitfield cheese gurus - Hero and Dan took over with the fundamentals of the cheese making process.

After a short break, we took our cheese tasting samples out of the fridge and began to learn about the Academy's structured approach to tasting. The Academy of Cheese pack comes with a methodology to help with tasting each cheese and Paxton's handily include extra tasting sheets so that we can keep records. This was something I was particularly nervous about because I’ve never been able to detect the ‘notes of candyfloss’, 'mushroom' or ‘chocolate’ in cheese that are often discussed around the office in a similar way to how we are all used to hearing about the notes in wine - I just like to eat my cheese! However, it was really helpful to slow down and taste through the cheese with regards to each point on the Academy of Cheese Tasting notes. There were no right or wrong answers because taste is of course subjective, although I did find it really challenging to rate the ‘acidity’ of the cheese – this is definitely something I need to try and detect via a bit more tasting practice.


We finished for the evening at 8:30pm and the time had flown by! Our homework is to look at the Academy's online portal – “the Learning Road” and find out what the “Chill Chain” is ready for next Wednesday’s session. I didn’t have the best sleep with my head buzzing from the evening’s cheese eating, but I’m looking forward to my next delivery of cheese next Tuesday and learning with the same group of people for our 2nd online training session.

I’ll report back on the next session next week! 


If you would like to study with the Academy of Cheese, browse our latest course availability and read our FAQs about this professionally recognised cheese qualification.