Set to be the biggest cheddar event the world has ever seen, the first edition of the Great British Cheddar Challenge will take place on Saturday 16 September, with tasting boxes now available to reserve. Founded by James Grant of No2 Pound Street in Buckinghamshire, the event was inspired by the cheesemonger’s own battle with neck cancer, which resulted in him losing his sense of taste for over a year.
The devastating loss of the restaurateur-turned-cheesemonger’s taste sparked a journey of resilience, hope, recovery and inspiration. James determinedly set out to rediscover this career-defining sense, working towards his Academy of Cheese accreditation and going onto play an important role judging at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo during 2019, picking out the newly launched Pitchfork Cheddar that went onto take fourth spot overall.
Five years since his original diagnosis, in May 2023 James was informed that he was in remission. With his fully recovered sense of taste and reinvigorated sense of purpose, James has launched the Great British Cheddar Challenge to fly the flag for artisan cheddar and celebrate the nuanced and layered flavour profiles that are being created by cheesemakers across Britain.
Inviting cheese lovers everywhere to get involved, the Great British Cheddar Challenge will see cheesemongers across the country selling tasting boxes of six unlabelled artisan cheddars. These will then be discussed during an online blind tasting event on 16 September, presented by comedian and cheese judge, Marcus Brigstocke, alongside experts from the cheese industry.
The Great British Cheddar Challenge will invite cheese lovers to challenge their perceptions of cheddar. With artisan cheddar accounting for only 3% of cheddar sales in the UK, Marcus and co. will guide viewers through some of the finest examples of artisan cheddar ever made – exploring how the seasons, the grass, the cows, the makers and the unique microflora in maturing rooms have influenced each truckle – before a People’s Choice Award vote to find the nation’s favourite cheddar.
James Grant, founder of the Great British Cheddar Challenge and owner of No2 Pound Street, commented: “Cheddar is the nation’s undisputed big cheese, but we want to challenge people’s palates and perceptions in order to safeguard the future of those making it according to time-honoured principles. While supermarket cheddars seek to satisfy the masses with a generic flavour profile, our artisan cheesemakers are producing incredible and varied wedges using recipes, techniques and cultures going back decades and even centuries. Having lost my sense of taste for over a year, I know what it’s like to be without these magnificent cheeses, so want to do all I can to promote and preserve them for future generations. During the Great British Cheddar Challenge, we’ll be inviting the public to wrap their taste buds around cheddars with distinct flavours, aromas, textures and appearances, all a true representation of the land from which they came. We want to raise awareness, sell more cheese and get more people enjoying the best cheddars in the world.”
The Great British Cheddar Challenge will take place on Saturday 16 September. Tasting boxes for the online event will be available to purchase for £35 from independent cheesemongers across the country, including No2 Pound Street via 2poundstreet.com. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced during the Big Cheese Weekender in October.
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