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A supplement to

in association with

A GUIDE TO IMPROVING YOUR SKILLS 2018 Edition | gff.co.uk

How to run a successful cheese counter INCLUDES HINTS AND TIPS ON: DISPLAY RANGE CHEESE CARE CUTTING EQUIPMENT WRAPPING SELLING PROMOTIONS CHEESE MATCHING


AOP, the sign of special products... A traditional cheese

Appellation d'origine protégée

The cheese of western Switzerland, with a delicate, distinguished flavour. Made since at least 1115 AD in and around the small town of Gruyères, today it is still produced by village cheese dairies in western Switzerland according to the traditional recipe. Le Gruyère AOP owes its characteristic delicacy and flavour to the top quality raw milk produced by cows fed on grass in the summer and hay in winter, coupled with the skill of the mastercheesemakers. No less than 400 litres of fresh milk are needed to produce a single wheel weighing around 35kg. During the slow maturation process, which takes several months in special cheese cellars, the wheels are turned regularly and rubbed down with saltywater. The maturing process lasts between five and 18 months.

Each cheese is systematically identified by the number of the mould and code of the cheese dairy. The day and month of production are also noted on the wheel. These black markings are made with casein, the cheese protein. No artificial additives are involved here either.

Le Gruyère AOP takes pride of place on any cheese platter. It makes for a delicious desert and can be used in tasty warm dishes. What’s more, no real fondue would be complete without genuine Gruyère AOP.

From this time on, the name ‘Gruyère AOP’ and the code of the production facility appears on the heel of each wheel of Gruyère AOP as an effective way of preventing fakes and guaranteeing authenticity. This technique employs branding irons, which give an indentation in the wheel. It is this marking that makes it possible to identify and trace each individual cheese.

The humidity and rind washing process develops the characteristic appearance of the cheese and assists in bringing the cheese into full maturity. This is what gives Le Gruyère AOP its famous, distinct flavour. It’s no great surprise that this authentic gift of nature is appreciated by cheeselovers throughout the world.

www.gruyere.com ruyere.com Cheeses from Switzerland. Switzerland. Naturally.

www.switzerland-cheese.com


A supplement to

Contents CHOOSE YOUR COUNTER

5

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

7

SELECTING A RANGE

9

DISPLAY & MERCHANDISING 12 CHEESE CARE & HYGIENE

15

PREPARING & CUTTING

18

WRAPPING

21

HOW TO SELL

22

UPSELLING & PROMOTIONS 25 CHEESE MATCHING

29

LE GRUYÈRE AOP AGE PROFILES

31

When we published the first edition of this guide, I was apprehensive that we would just be telling cheesemongers and deli owners what they already knew about their profession. But I was wrong. This second edition is conclusive proof of that. We needed to make another one because our first print run is long gone and we’re still getting requests for copies. The truth is, there are lots of people selling cheese that could improve. Equally, there are plenty of people at the beginning of their retail journey that need an easy reference manual. Those of you who are familiar with the 2015 version will notice that much of the advice hasn’t changed – the core skills and knowledge remain the same – but we’ve upgraded every page and introduced several new sections. Whether you’re an old hand or a newcomer to the counter, you should find something here to help you sell more cheese. Michael Lane Editor, Fine Food Digest A supplement to Fine Food Digest

in association with

EDITORIAL editorial@gff.co.uk Editor: Michael Lane Art director: Mark Windsor Photography: Richard Faulks, Isabelle Plasschaert ADVERTISING advertise@gff.co.uk Sales director: Sally Coley Advertisement sales: Becky Stacey, Ruth Debnam Published by Great Taste Publications Ltd and the Guild of Fine Food Ltd GENERAL ENQUIRIES info@gff.co.uk Tel: 01747 825200 Fax: 01747 824065 gff.co.uk Guild of Fine Food, Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park, Shaftesbury Rd, Gillingham, SP8 5FB UK

MESSAGE FROM LE GRUYÈRE AOP

Le Gruyère AOP remains an ardent supporter of independent retailers, who are vital as promoters and a sales channel for our cheese. We’re delighted to be sponsoring a second edition of this guide and helping to boost the knowledge of both budding cheesemongers and seasoned professionals.

Helen Daysh Marketing Manager UK, Le Gruyère AOP

Fine Food Digest is published 11 times a year and is available on subscription for £50pa inclusive of post and packing. Printed by: Wincanton Print, UK © Great Taste Publications Ltd and The Guild of Fine Food Ltd 2018. Reproduction of whole or part of this magazine without the publisher’s prior permission is prohibited. The opinions expressed in articles and advertisements are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. The publisher cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 3


www.snowdoniacheese.co.uk

snowdoniacheese

WORLD CHEESE AWARDS 2017-18 WINNER BEST GOATS’ CHEESE

RACHEL

PAVE COBBLE

RACHEL

HAVE

HAVE BEST SPECIALIST CHEESE MAKER

PAVÉ COBBLE

TASTED RACHEL? 17

TASTED RACHEL?

20

17

Email: info@whitelake.co.uk | Telephone: 01749831527

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4 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

Email: info@whitelake.co.uk | Telephone: 01749831527

www.whitelake.co.uk

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Choose your counter Before you start selling you’ve got to have something to sell from. Chilled displays come in several forms and they all have strengths and weaknesses.

AIR-CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS AND CHEESE ROOMS Creating an air-conditioned cheese room, allows retailers to build eye-catching displays incorporating whole cheeses. The openness of the set-up immerses customers and offers lots of opportunity for engaging with staff. That said, it is potentially costlier than a standard counter and the chilled environment will not appeal to all customers. Unless it can be sectioned off, this format makes it trickier to offer a full deli range or a café service with seating.

UPRIGHTS AND MULTIDECKS Upright chillers with shelves are the most space efficient and can be used to create the striking ‘wall of cheese’ effect seen in a number of the country’s top retailers. If deployed on the shopfloor, multideck fridges encourage customers to browse but they also tempt people into handling the cheese. Some multideck systems can use quite heavy draughts so cheese needs to be well-wrapped to prevent it drying out.

SERVEOVERS Manageable and versatile enough to handle more than cheese, this classic deli set-up is the most common configuration. For retailers who find the glass frontage a bit too imposing for shoppers, there is the flat well fridge, which brings the customer closer to the cheese but maintains the traditional divide between them and counter staff.

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HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 5


The Truckle Cheese Company, home to award winning products including its farmhouse cheese truckles, is delighted to be working with Dorset-based, Ford Farm offering their cave aged products, traditional West Country Farmhouse Cheddars aged deep within the caves at Wookey Hole in Somerset.

Classic & Contemporary Cheeses and Accompaniments

6 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

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Equipment checklist 1 2

6 5

3

4

7

Make sure you’ve got the essential tools of the cheesemonger’s trade

A supplement to Fine Food Digest

1 Scales 2 Cheese wire 3 Waxed / greaseproof paper 4 Kitchen knives (various sizes for sampling and serrated blades for portioning softer styles)

5 Cheese plane(for sampling) 6 Plastic wrap 7 Specialist knives. Rocker knife for large format alpine and Dutch cheeses as well as chisel set for hard Italian cheeses

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 7


Montagnolo Affiné

i

Award winning cheese from Bavaria

oduced r p ngland dly ou erset, E r P om S n

Soft blue cheese with a distinctive grey rind. “Superbly creamy” - Judges, Great Taste Awards 2017

ELITE IMPORTS LTD

www.elite-imports-limited.co.uk

20

17

W: keenscheddar.co.uk T: 01963 32286

WA L O V O N M Ü H L E N E N than Switzerland has mountains

Walo von Mühlenen with the Le Gruyère Switzerland extra 14 month cave aged at the World Cheese Awards 2017. Selection Affineur Walo is exclusively distributed in the UK by The Fine Cheese Co.

www.finecheese.co.uk 01225 424212

8 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

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Selecting a range There’s a wealth of choice out there and that’s just in the UK, let alone what the Continent has to offer. Here’s a guide to selecting a workable product line-up. STOCK CROWD-PLEASERS Farmhouse cheddar, Brie De Meaux, Le Gruyère AOP, Stilton. These are the kind of cheeses that sell in abundance. Make sure that you carry all of the classics because the majority of customers will want at least one and you’ll find that they are the backbone of your sales.

ROTATE YOUR SELECTION Some cheesemongers have as many as 100 cheeses in their range through the year but they might only have 50 in stock and on display. It’s good to have seasonal varieties, like Vacherin, or just to switch cheeses in and out of the counter to keep regular customers interested.

Soft

Hard

Blue

Cow

Goat

Sheep

Smelly

Mild

Strong

SPEAK TO SUPPLIERS Whether buying direct or through a distributor, you can boost your selection with a bit of insider knowledge. Find out which batches are tasting good and what exciting cheeses are on the horizon.

BRITISH OR CONTINENTAL? Some consumers want to buy local, others still think that the Continent is a byword for the best. Make sure your selection is catering for both types of people. Even if you decide specialise in British, it’s a good idea to carry equivalents to European classics, like Briestyle and washed rind varieties.

TICK THE BOXES Can your counter cover all of these bases?

REGIONAL FAVOURITES Find out the local preferences and gear your orders towards them. For instance, crumblies like Wensleydale and Lancashire sell more in the North of England while West Country Farmhouse Cheddars are the biggest sellers on their home turf. ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

The bulk of your sales will come from a very small number of cheeses. But without the rest of them, your customers won’t come.

Rhuaridh Buchanan, Buchanan’s Cheesemonger

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HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 9


All you need to know. Now all together.

CHEESE PROGRAMME 2018

All held in London unless stated otherwise ACADEMY LEVEL 1: £175 + VAT Weds 27 June Sat 7 July Thurs 13 September Tues 23 October

For over 30 years, we’ve helped fine food businesses to grow and thrive through professional training. Our range of courses, taught by industry experts and practising deli owners, will help you gain the product and tasting knowledge, commercial insights and practical behind-the-counter skills you need to boost sales, and win and retain customers.

And now, you can find all that knowledge, support and expertise in one, new organisation. The School of Fine Food brings together all our Guild of Fine Food training for the first time, offering courses across three key programmes to help you learn, be inspired and succeed in food retailing. The School will have two homes: the Guild of Fine Food HQ in Dorset; and new, dedicated premises in London. We will, of course, continue to take our courses on the road.

ACADEMY LEVEL 1 CONVERTER: £150 + VAT Tues 29 May Thurs 28 June Weds 12 September Weds 24 October RETAIL READY: contact jilly.sitch@gff.co.uk 16 & 17 October RETAIL CHEESE: Members £100 + vat Non-members £135 + vat Tues 8 May Tues 19 June – Manchester Tues 26 June Tues 10 July Tues 11 September Tues 9 October Mon 22 October Tues 13 November DELI COURSE: Members £100 + vat Non-members £135 + vat Wed 9 May Mon 9 July

For more details of all School of Fine Food programmes, courses, fees and dates, visit gff.co.uk/training or contact jilly.sitch@gff.co.uk, +44 (0)1747 825200

www.gff.co.uk | academyofcheese.org |

@guildoffinefood


Great British Cheese Awards 2016 Winner: Best Artisan Cheese Producer Great Taste 2017 3-Star award-winner

The last farm made raw milk Lancashire Cheese Old Winchester back in stock! A very hard 18 month farmhouse cheese which has a distinct nuttiness in flavour and made with vegetarian rennet.

At Mrs Kirkham’s we have been making our award-winning Lancashire for 3 generations, using the same techniques and ingredients as the generations before. We use only the rich creamy milk from our own closed herd of Holstien Frieisan Cows, to create what we believe to be a true traditional Lancashire, which is an ivory yellow in colour and has a rich buttery crumble.

www.lyburncheese.co.uk 01794 399982

www.mrskirkhamscheese.co.uk info@mrskirkhamscheese.co.uk · 01772 865335

Manual gravity slicer GSP-H

This manual slicer uses gravity and is easy to operate even when slicing heavy products thanks to its ergonomic, inclined carriage and Bizerba precision.

The manual premium gravity feed slicer sets worldwide standards in terms of ergonomics, hygiene and safety.

It stands out due to its wealth of variants. The GSP-H is an individual and powerful slicer, designed for a variety of products to be sliced in manual mode. This slicer consists of a powerful blade drive. In addition, the GSP-H can be fitted with Ceraclean® surface which is easy to clean and ensures easy feeding of products to the blade.

01908 682740 Info@bizerba.co.uk www.bizerba.com

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RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 11


Display and merchandising It’s time to bring all that equipment and cheese together as you set up your counter ROLL OUT THE CHEESE Arranging your cheeses is, on the whole, down to personal preference. Some like to group cheeses by style eg. hard, washed rind, fresh; others prefer to arrange their

selection by country of origin or animal milk. Many retailers like to keep their blue cheese separate from the rest but this is not compulsory. Nor is segregating unpasteurised cheeses.

CREATE HOTSPOTS Even if you don’t have a straightforward serveover, it’s worth creating an area, or areas, to merchandise new cheeses or special offers. Draw customers’ eyes with a multi-piece display, extra signage telling the cheese’s story and some samples. This is also a good tactic for dealing with cheeses close to their sell-by date.

LABEL EACH ONE These must, at very least, identify the cheese, its price per kilo, and if it is made with unpasteurised milk. Other helpful vital statistics include the country of origin, the animal of origin, the texture or style of cheese and whether it

is suitable for vegetarians. It’s very helpful to write the date information of each cheese on the reverse of the label. Choose signs that are sturdy and easily cleaned. Avoid those with spikes that will break the cheese’s surface.

12 HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

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ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

If your counter is low on stock, and your next delivery is a few days away, add interest with other items – a bowl of apples, bottles of beer, chutney, even a blackboard with a cheesey poem! Create ‘theatre’ at all times.

PRACTICAL PLACEMENT You’ll also have to fit your equipment around the display. Try not to place the till, scales or cutting boards so you have to turn your back on the customer when serving them. If this is unavoidable, then a well-placed mirror will help you maintain eye contact. Remember to leave enough working space behind the counter, or in the shop, for those days when you have lots of customers and extra staff on.

Jilly Sitch, Guild of Fine Food

LIGHT IT UP A badly lit counter can have a very detrimental effect on sales. Avoid bulbs that cast a blue hue over the cheese and look for those that boost the colour of the cheese, especially yellows, in the counter. Whether the lighting on your cheese is in your counter or from the ceiling, ensure that it is angled to reduce the glare from clingwrapped cheese.

BE DYNAMIC Experiment with the layout of the counter. Pick one cheese that is tasting good that week, place it in the centre and build the display outwards from it.

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Display the cheeses at different heights, bigger cheeses at the back, smaller at the front. some retailers break down their counter every week and rearrange it.

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 13


Winner of a World Cheese Awards Super Gold 2014 Contact us for details of our range of delicious, artisan goats cheeses, including our awardwinning Wensum White. Tel: 01603 880685 Email: sales@fieldingcottage.co.uk Twitter: @fieldingcottage

www.fieldingcottage.co.uk

14 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

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Cheese care and hygiene

Your selection may be second to none but you’ve got to keep that stock in top condition to please your customers and satisfy your EHO

GET THE WRAP RIGHT

RECORD EVERYTHING

Cling-wrap all of your cuts of cheese and make sure it’s very tight. The snugger the wrap the less your customers will notice the unsightly cling. It will also lock in moisture to protect the cheese from drying out. This doesn’t work for all varieties; smaller soft cheeses are better off stored in waxed paper.

Log every cheese that comes into the shop, its arrival date and its sell-by date on a spreadsheet. Having this knowledge at your fingertips will allow you to decide which cheeses to promote each day with offers and tastings. Good records will also impress your local environmental health officer.

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

Cheese is a living product so you’ve got to look at it. If cracks appear and it’s drying out, you need to wrap it up tighter. If it looks wet, you need to leave it out unwrapped.

Andy Swinscoe, The Courtyard Dairy

STAYING CLEAN: HYGIENE TIPS FOR KEEPING THINGS SPICK AND SPAN... • Aprons, coats, hats... It’s entirely down to personal preference but black or white are the best colours. Any dirt is easily identified and you can be demonstrably clean for customers and EHOs alike.

A supplement to Fine Food Digest

•R  egular hand washing is vital, particularly between handling different cheeses and after using the till. Keep contact between cheese and bare hands to a minimum.

• Tidy and wipe down surfaces whenever you’re not serving customers. Keep your service area clear of potential contaminators like used wrap, old packaging and incoming delivery boxes.

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 15


CHEESE TYPE

HOW LONG CAN I KEEP IT IN THE COUNTER?

Fresh 2 eg. curd cheese Mozzarella

While there are no hard and fast rules for how long you can keep it in the counter, the School of Fine Food offers these display life guidelines for opened or portioned cheese on display at below 8°C.

3

Mould-ripened, soft eg. Brie

6-7 days

Mould-ripened, semi-hard eg. Gorgonzola

10-12 days

Stilton and similar blues

12-16 days

Hard-pressed with additives

9-12 days

Semi-hard & ‘crumblies’ eg. Caerphilly

12-14 days

Hard pressed eg. Cheddar or Le Gruyère AOP

16 days

Very hard cheese eg. Grana Padano or Manchego

21 days

0

STAYING CLEAN • You need a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point plan, aka a HACCP plan. Essentially this document will allow you to identify potential risks in the business and establish procedures to deal with them. • Make sure every cleaning job is listed and recorded when it is carried out. Have an end-of-day cleaning process that all staff can carry out, including visual checks across the shop and backrooms. • The first port of call for any cheese retailer seeking hygiene guidance should be the Food Standards Agency website: food.gov.uk

5

10

15

20

DAYS 25

CONTROL YOUR TEMPERATURE By the letter of the law, cheese must be transported, stored and displayed at 8°C or below. But there are exceptions to this rule, particularly when it comes to maturing cheeses on your premises and the style of your display. It is always best to discuss your circumstances with your local EHO. The most important thing is to monitor and record the temperature in each display chiller as often as possible. You could also use a temperature probe on individual cheeses and minimum-maximium thermometers to track temperatures at regular intervals when the shop is closed.

16 HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

We have two maturing rooms. One for hard cheeses, that need a temperature of 8-12°C, and another room for softer cheeses at a temperature of 3-7°C.

Hero Hirsh Paxton & Whitfield

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TRA MAT EX

BE S

BE S

CH

T

E UR

DI TRA TION AL

T

CH

E D DA R

E D DA R

HAT-TRICK TRA MAT EX

BE S

T

CH

E UR

WCA TROPHY WINNERS 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18

E D DA R

Charlotte Brown’s Handmade

Artisan Preserves and Relishes

Passionate about Preserving & Perfect Pairing

APPLEBY’S MAKE ARTISANAL DAIRY PRODUCTS FROM THEIR ABBEY FARM MILK follow: applebyscheese

What is it that makes Charlotte Brown’s products so good? Charlotte would say that fresh, high-quality ingredients, mastery of traditional methods and great attention to detail are what makes the difference. Her new Fig and Pear Chutney is the perfect pairing to a surprisingly wide range of English and Continental Cheeses, particularly the mild soft ones that can be so hard to match

email: dairy@applebyscheese.co.uk | 01948 840221 For more information please contact us either by email or by phone

Appleby’s Cheshire

Tel 02380 671047 / 07826 835127 charlottebonney@hotmail.com

www.charlottebrowns.co.uk

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RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 17


PRE-CUT LARGER CHEESES Tackle big whole cheeses by portioning before displaying. Cut a large wheel in half, wrap tightly in cling film and put it in your storage chiller. Then halve the other half again, wrap both tightly and put on display in the chiller, using one of these quarters as your cutting piece.

Preparing a Preparing cheese for your shoppers while they wait is an essential part of running a cheese counter. Here’s a run-through of what to use and how to use it. CUT IT CORRECTLY Always cut from the middle to the edge of cheeses. That way the customer experiences all of the cheese – the sweeter, softer middle and the stronger flavoured paste near the rind.

CUSTOMERS ARE GUIDES Don’t prompt customers to ask for how much they want in grams. Cutting to weight by eye is very difficult and takes years of practice. Demonstrate visually where you’re going to cut instead and get the customer to adjust it.

• The wire should be used on most hards but the hardest cheeses will require a double handle knife or a Parmesan rind-cutting hook knife.

HOW TO USE THE WIRE • The piece of cheese should be wedge-shaped with the outer edge facing your stomach and resting on the lip of the cutting board. • Lift the wire over the whole piece of cheese and line it up just off the point of the wedge by half a centimetre or so.

•P  ull the wire down, rather than towards yourself. Do this evenly, with a steady hand at one speed.

18 HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

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g and cutting WHICH KNIVES AND WHEN You can cut most of the vast spectrum of cheese with the wire, except for very hard and very soft cheese. Hard, large format cheeses, like Gouda, should be tackled initially with a double-handled rocker knife, while there are specialist knives and chisels for cutting Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano. Serrated cheese knives will cut through soft cheeses rather than squash them. Slotted versions are the best, because they have less surface area for the cheese to stick to. If using knives on harder cheeses, make sure the blades are rigid as those that flex will cause a curved cut.

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

Not many of the public are confident in weights. Show them the size of the piece with the wire or by hand before you cut.

Rhuaridh Buchanan, Buchanan’s Cheesemonger

CUTTING BOARDS Most cheesemongers have at least two cutting boards – one for blues and one for the rest. Others prefer to have separate boards for pasteurised and unpasteurised, too. Individual EHOs have different views on this, so seek their advice.

HOW TO CUT LE GRUYÈRE AOP A cheese wire should be used to cut a wheel in half. Then use a double handle knife to cut the cheese into quarters. Follow the illustration on the right to divide the quarters. Wrap each piece in film and never leave Le Gruyère AOP open to the air.

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HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 19


Rougette Bavarian Red Award-winning soft mould ripened goats’ and sheep milk cheeses since 1989

SUPREME CHAMPION

The Great Yorkshire Show 2015

Over the years Golden Cross Cheese Co. cheeses have picked up many awards including the James Aldridge Memorial Trophy for Best British Raw milk cheese and the British Cheese Awards Best Soft White cheese 4 times. Our most recent awards: • 2017 Artisan Cheese Awards Best Raw Milk Cheese and Best Soft Cheese for Golden Cross Gold for Golden Cross and Silver for Flower Marie • 2017 Royal Bath & West Show British Cheese Awards 2 Gold and a Silver for Golden Cross Silver for Flower Marie.

Creamy, mild and buttery 01825 872380 · info@goldencrosscheese.co.uk

www.goldencrosscheese.co.uk

Tel: 020 7819 9704 www.elite-imports-limited.co.uk

AWARD WINNING ARTISAN CHEESES MADE IN THE HEART OF SOMERSET. Over 50 years experience in cheese making. Using traditional style cheese recipes and skillfully adapting them to create a range of hard and semi-hard cheeses made with sheep, goat, buffalo and cows milk.

At Burt’s Cheese we produce a range of award-winning handcrafted cheeses

www.somersetcheese.co.uk | info@somersetcheese.co.uk | 01749 860237

20 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

For more information please contact us Tel 0770 939 4292 claire@burtscheese.com www.burtscheese.co.uk

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Wrapping

Tips on readying cut cheese for the customer to take home

WRAPPING WEDGES

CHOOSE YOUR MATERIAL While cling film is seen as the best wrap on the counter and in storage, almost every retailer swears by waxed paper when packaging cut cheese for customers. Thicker cellophane might also come in handy. to prep gooier slivers.

GET THE RIGHT SIZE

Place the cheese at a 45° angle to the straight edges of the paper. Fold a corner over the fat end of the wedge, with the point heading towards the thin end. Flatten the paper along one side of the wedge, as if you were wrapping a present, and then fold it tightly over the top. Repeat the process on the other side and then fold in the excess paper from the nose end to the centre.

CHECK YOUR TECHNIQUE It’s always a good idea to try unwrapping cheese that you’ve wrapped – just to check that it’s not too tight or tricky for a customer to get into.

THINK ABOUT THICKNESS The standard thickness of 50 grams per square metre (gsm) works well for most cheeses and should keep it in good condition for a week after sale. Thinner paper will keep moist, soft cheeses in better condition while thicker paper will benefit dryer, harder cheeses.

Before you start to wrap a cut piece of cheese, work out how much paper you need to cover the piece. Exposed corners are unacceptable but so is a great clump of folded paper if too much has to be tucked in.

FOR SMALL PIECES AND INDIVIDUAL CHEESES Place the cheese in the middle of the paper and fold the two long edges to meet tightly in a pleat over the centre of the cheese Then, tuck and fold the excess at the sides underneath.

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HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 21


So you’ve got all the kit and a well-stocked counter. Now it’s time to meet the customers.

How to sell

GOOD PRESENTATION Appearance, facial expression and body language are all vital in a sales environment. Standing up straight, smiling and wearing some kind of uniform – it might only be an apron – will all make people more willing to buy cheese from you.

GIVE TASTERS Everything on your counter should be available to sample, even if it is a high value item. How else will you sell it to someone who has never tasted it before?

SUSS THEM OUT

MEET AND GREET Greet every customer as they enter, even if it’s just a ‘hello’ and some eye contact. Specialist shops can be daunting environments for a lot of people so you need to put people at ease as soon as possible. Offering a taster on entry will draw them to the counter and get them browsing and talking.

Ask customers if there is anything they’d like to try. If this doesn’t coax them out of their shells then ask them what type of cheese they usually like. Most people will engage with you after a few samples and some encouraging questions.

22 HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

READ THE PERSON You have to gauge the situation for each customer. While some are more timid or want to browse, others will know exactly what they want and don’t want to chat or be sold to. It’s always worth seeing if they’d like anything extra but not worth pushing too hard, or they won’t come back.

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KNOW YOUR COMBOS Many customers will come in looking to you for help assembling a cheeseboard. Have an idea of which varieties complement each other and memorise some line-ups to suit several budgets.

TOO MUCH INFORMATION?

USE A PLANE The cheese plane is a quick and efficient way of offering a taster. Better than pre-cubed samples, the thin slices cause minimum disruption to the cheese and will warm quickly in the customer’s hand so they taste better. Small paring knives will also do the trick.

Some will be more interested than others but all customers will respond to good product knowledge. A canny salesperson will be able to gauge whether a person wants the full fact-file on a cheese or just a few details. It’s best to have a one-liner or piece of trivia to roll out for each product and you can expand on that if the customer needs more convincing.

TASTE YOUR OWN WARES By their nature, artisan cheeses can vary from season to season and batch to batch. Sample your own stock regularly from the counter. This makes sure each individual cheese tastes as it should and keeps your knowledge up to date for responding to customers’ taste requirements.

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

Selling is all about the power of storytelling. The tales of the eccentric producer and funny anecdotes can really boost the basket spend. Mike Leslie, Partisan Deli

ALWAYS HAVE ALTERNATIVES Make sure you carry more than one type of each cheese style. This keeps even the most repeat visitors interested in your counter, even if they’re trying a different cheddar every week.

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HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 23


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Upselling & promotions

Here are some tips for making the most of each sale and maximising each customer’s spend PRICE PROMOTIONS: FRIEND OR FOE?

IN-STORE TASTINGS… Well-planned in-store tastings can be a good way of promoting certain cheeses. However, unmanned trays of samples will encourage customers to graze and won’t sell the cheese in the counter. Hosting tastings, run by your suppliers or even the

cheese-maker themselves, will lend retail theatre to the shop and create the buzz needed to sell more cheese. Some leading brands, such as Le Gruyère AOP, do offer promotional material and can also provide fully-trained demonstration staff to run tastings.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS: WHAT TO UPSELL • Learn and stock some of the classic combinations (eg. Wensleydale and fruit cake or hard sheep’s cheese and quince paste).

Straight price reductions might shift cheese quickly but they will affect customers’ expectations on their next visit. Some cheesemongers have had success with subtler “below the line” promotions, such as weekly specials offering consumers a certain cheese at their restaurant wholesale price. It is less risky to run promotional deals with accompaniments, for example: “Buy three cheeses and get a pack of oatcakes half price”.

• Wine and cheese are age-old partners but, if you’ve got a licence, don’t overlook the pairing potential of beer, which is also cheaper to offer as a sample.

• Be prepared to demonstrate accompaniments by offering samples and have them within easy reach so you can do this speedily. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE A supplement to Fine Food Digest

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 25


BEWARE OF OVERLOAD Don’t let a customer walk away with too much. If they can’t get through it in time it will go off at the back of the fridge and they’ll blame you, the cheesemonger, rather than their own greed.

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

You don’t want to upsell in a way that takes advantage of that one moment. It’s about a long-term relationship with customers.

Charlie Turnbull, School of Fine Food

EVENING EVENTS If you can open in the evening, and provided you have a licence, cheese and wine events are proving more and more popular. Informal, walk-in events might generate lots of footfall but if they’re too unstructured you won’t sell anything. More structured, ticketed events will keep numbers down and will attract enthusiasts looking to try new things.

PUT CHEESE IN CONTEXT If you have a café or offer food-to-go, put dishes on the menu that demonstrate the uses of cheeses. Sandwiches are the easiest way to showcase a cheese. Even if a customer doesn’t buy some on this visit, they may well ask for that cheese the next time they’re in the shop.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS: WHAT TO UPSELL • If you’re displaying your accompaniments, label them up with cheesematching suggestions to pique browsers’ interests.

•S  tock a range of crackers, oatcakes and biscuits as well as accompaniments like chutneys and charcuterie. These can easily be tacked onto a sale, it’s best to do this once a customer has finished selecting their cheese.

26 HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

• Be different with your flavour matches. Biscuits and chutneys have their place but seek out something that people won’t have experienced.

A supplement to Fine Food Digest


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A supplement to Fine Food Digest

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RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 27


DELI RANGE

the perfect accompaniment to your cheese board Sarah Driver 0116 233 8833 sarah@driverspickles.co.uk

28 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

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A supplement to Fine Food Digest


Cheese matching The possibilities for pairing are endless. While we have started you off with some classic combos, most of this page has been left blank for your own notes Montgomery’s with onion marmalade

Cheddar Le Gruyère Alpine AOP with Chardonnay Stilton with stout

Blue

Fresh

Washed Rind Manchego with honey

Ewes’ Milk Rosary with charcoal crackers

Goats’ Milk

Mould Ripened

Wine

A supplement to Fine Food Digest

Beer & Cider

Pickles & Chutney

Crackers & Biscuits

Sweet Preserves

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER 29


EPoS for Farm Shops and Delicatessens. Our solution links to either Avery Berkel or Bizerba weigh scales. 01159 677439

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The natural choice for cheese

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30 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

A supplement to Fine Food Digest


Roll up

Use these tasting notes and the aroma wheel below to top up your knowledge of Le Gruyère AOP

GRUYÈRE AOP MILD

GRUYÈRE AOP MATURE

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GRUYÈRE AOP RÉSERVE

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Butyric Propionic

Fresh milk Fresh curd

Matured for a minimum of 14 months, Gruyère AOP Mature is full-bodied and highly aromatic with fruity notes. Dark yellow in colour, this cheese is firm yet crumbly with a slightly grainy texture and a lingering saltiness. s as

Ra

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Matured for between 6 and 9 months, Gruyère AOP Mild is smooth and aromatic and will convince even the most discerning palate. It combines its distinctive, balanced flavour with a delicious soft body.

GRUYÈRE ALPAGE AOP

Matured for a minimum of 10 months, Gruyère AOP Réserve boasts a full-bodied and fruity flavour. Light yellow in colour, it is saltier than a younger Gruyère AOP. It has a firm, slightly crumbly texture and a flavour that lingers in the mouth.

Gruyère d’Alpage AOP is produced high up in the Alps and the Jura mountains during the summer with the same traditional recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. It can only be produced during the summer season when there is enough grass on the mountain.

Cheeses from Switzerland. Switzerland. Naturally.

www.switzerland-cheese.com


32 RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL CHEESE COUNTER

A supplement to Fine Food Digest

How to Run A Successful Cheese Counter 2018  
How to Run A Successful Cheese Counter 2018