Meet the maker: Sophie Williamson, Sheffield Cheesemasters

This post is focused on the Sheffield Cheesemasters, who’ll be producing hand crafted cheese using local milk from Our Cow Molly. Exciting stuff!

Over the last few years Sheffield has seen a number of new food businesses arriving onto the culinary scene, adding to the vibrancy and range of food available on our doorstep.

To find out more about the cheese, I met with the cheese maker Sophie Williamson at Burton Road, in the unit which will be home for the Sheffield Cheesemasters. It’s just next door to The Depot Bakery and across the courtyard from Nether Edge Pizza.

Building works were in full flow as a custom-made cheese production area is being built to ensure product consistency and to meet hygiene and temperature requirements.

Sophie gave me a quick tour, showing me where the cheese making will be happening, where it will be stored to mature and how customers will be able to watch the action via the surrounding windows.

Here’s more from Sophie…

How did you get into making cheese?

I did a few professional courses at the School of Artisan Food, the seed was planted and my passion grew from there for cheese making.

I have a background in IT project management and I decided I wanted a change and to work for myself.

Right now, I’m getting to use my project management experience and learn lots of new and different skills. It’s really nice to work with a tangible product. I’ve had positive feedback and support, it’s a big leap but I am excited about the future.

I am looking to supply restaurants like Rafters and delis across the city, so Urban Pantry and Porter Brook Deli. Also, I want to host cheese workshops and we’ll be at Peddler market too. Being here on Burton Road feels the right place as it is becoming a food destination!

Give us a taste of the cheeses that will be on offer at Sheffield Cheesemasters?

My cheese, Little Mester is a creamy soft cheese made using locally sourced milk from Our Cow Molly. I have been working with different combinations, raw milk and pasteurised to see which will give me the best tasting cheese.

I love all kinds of cheese,  soft cheese is my favourite and that’s why I want to make it. Next, I want to try a blue cheese and maybe a hard cheese!

I am going to have a cheese counter here where I’ll sell my own cheese and other hand-selected cheeses from other producers. I’m planning on running cheese making workshops, so you can make your own cheese and store and mature it on site.  

How has your journey been so far?

Hectic and a steep learning curve! I’ve spent a lot of time with other cheese makers to learn more about cheese making. The building project here has been keeping me busy and there’s been plenty of experimenting to get my cheese where I want it to be.

At the last Peddler market we had a chance to sell a selection of cheeses, these were my own personal favourites. You could have a mixed plate or bag to go, to enjoy at home. It was great to meet customers and tell them the story of the provenance of each cheese. When you explain the background, you could see that you were converting people and persuading them to try something new. We sold all of the cheese, which was great!

In October, we are going to be serving raclette at Peddler (6/7 October) and offering a selection of cheeses. I think it will be the perfect time of year for some melted, gooey cheese decadence!

Are you excited and ready for opening?  

Definitely, it is exciting to be part of the food community here and to be near to places like The Old Workshop and Stew and Oyster.

People love cheese and I want to have a welcoming space where you can come and have a little taster, talk about cheese, get suggestions for recipes and advice on what to have on a cheese board. I believe there is a cheese out there for everyone!

 


The planned start date for production for the Sheffield Cheesemasters ‘Little Mester’ cheese is early September. For the latest updates follow the action on Twitter and Instagram.

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