The current Covid-19 crisis has without doubt put untold pressure on our artisan cheese makers; especially as restaurants, cafes and pubs, farmers markets and supermarket deli counters all closed their doors overnight, leaving cheese makers with maturing stores full to bursting with nowhere to sell their products.
Mindful of their plight, multi-award-winning baker Aidan Monks decided to see what he could do to help at least one artisan cheese maker by changing the core ingredient of two his bakery’s most popular breads, Cheese and Marmite and Cheese and Chilli sourdough breads.
Until a couple of weeks ago these breads were made with a high-quality hard cheddar cheese sourced from a catering wholesaler. In light of the current crisis Aidan took the bold step to change the recipe and incorporate a British artisan made hard cheese.
After carrying out a little research he decided that Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire fitted the bill perfectly. After which Aidan then got on the phone and called award-winning cheese maker Graham Kirkham, co-owner of Mrs Kirkham’s, to see if the pair could bring together the most natural pairing in the world cheese and bread.
Supermarkets at the start of the crisis saw people panic buying and emptying shelves of cheese, however, many artisan cheese makers were left with vast quantities of cheese in their stores, many focussed on hospitality sales lost over 70% of their business overnight.
Mrs Kirkham’s ordinarily sells 120 or so 10kg cheeses a week, but the crisis left Graham left with 30 tonnes and nowhere to sell it too. Thankfully, businesses like Lovingly Artisan Bakery, Neal’s Yard and Booths Supermarkets are rallying round Britain’s small artisan cheese makers and are buying their products and urging people to continue to buy specialist handmade local cheeses to ensure that they are with us in the future.
Aidan Monks commented: ‘’Now more than ever, it’s crucial that cheese lovers do their best to support the industry and buy cheese or we seriously risk losing a number of our incredible regional cheeses. We are proud that we are able to help Mrs Kirkham’s in our own small way by using their amazing traditionally made Lancashire cheese in our Cheese and Marmite and Cheese and Chilli sourdough breads. Bringing together two naturally fermented foods; artisan made sourdough bread and farmhouse made award winning cheese.’’