Two entrepreneurs from north London run an independent artisan cheese making company from where they create unique cheeses following their own recipes.
Wildes Cheese exists because of a redundancy offer. It might sound contradictory, but Keith and Philip started their business after the latter was offer redundancy leave to quit his 9 to 5 office job in the peak of the financial crisis.
Philip admits that it wasn’t easy. “Any decision that involves you moving away from a life that you know into a new life is always difficult, always painful. I wanted to become self-employed, I wanted to produce something real, something that didn’t involve spreadsheets, Power Point, computers…”. On their road to cheese they joined courses on how to produce beer, chutneys, jams, bread or cakes among others. However, it was the alchemy of cheese that conquered them. “It can go from a white liquid into cheese, and all over the world is different, it is only milk, but it is magic” says Philip.
At Wildes they have their own cheese catalogue. It includes thirty different cheeses, all of them made from their own recipes. “One of the things I definitely was sure about when I first started was that we were not going to recreate other people’s cheese. We were never going to make Manchego or Cheddar. We were going to be our own cheesemakers” they say.
Philip and Keith look carefully after every step of the cheese making process. They source all their milk from single-herd cows in Sussex and they process 2,500 litres of milk a week. Furthermore, Wildes cheeses are seasonal. “This time of the year the cheeses are milder, creamier, while in winter we have stronger, more mature flavours” says Philip.
They admit that the most difficult thing to understand when they launched their dairy was patience. “You can’t control everything, the most important thing is patience and in a way, letting go. If you make a pie, you know what is going to taste like tomorrow. But if you make cheese, you need to wait for 3 to 6 months” claims Philip. Their cheese-making process goes from one week for the fresh ones, to six months. One of their most popular cheeses is the Alexandra, named after their first stall at Alexandra Palace Farmers Market. It is a rich, creamy and smooth textured cheese aged for 10-12 weeks.
The thing they enjoy the most about being cheese makers is “being a food producer. Not a manufacture, not a factory. We make food for our local community; we are the cheese makers of London. We want to be innovative, creative; there are no line managers, no CEOs, we come to work tomorrow, we want to do something different and we do it” they say with a big smile. They produce cheese Monday to Thursday and they sell at markets Thursday to Sunday. They are not scared of experimenting. It doesn’t always go well, but that goes with the job and they enjoy the challenge of developing their own recipes.
Their company doesn’t allow them to separate their personal and professional lives. The dedication is complete and their working hours are long. They usually wake up when the rush hour is over and so their schedule is far from 9 to 5. They admit that “this is different because it is our own thing, it is within our power, it is not as if we were held here, we can choose when to start and when to leave”. They work significantly longer, but more fractured. From getting the milk ready, to making the cheese, to teaching at workshops, replying to emails or updating their website, every day is different.
Moreover, they offer short courses on cheese making at their dairy. Normally the courses are one day long and they teach basic techniques and are open to anyone.
Their cheeses can be found at some deli shops, but undoubtedly, the best place to buy is the markets (Thursday to Saturday at Borough and Sundays at http://www.alexandrapalace.com/farmers-market-2/”>Alexandra Palace’s) where you can buy their cheeses directly from them.