The Courtyard Dairy in Settle, Yorkshire has been named Cheese Counter of the Year 2013 at this year’s World Cheese Awards – a competition organised by The Guild of Fine Food and sponsored by Le Gruyère AOP. The specialist dairy shop, run by Andy and Kathy Swinscoe, rose to the top of the 10 finalists from 80 entries from throughout Great Britain.
Judge Patrick McGuigan explained “The Courtyard Dairy is a brilliant example of how a small shop can do great things. Andy and Kathy Swinscoe may only have opened the shop last year but it’s truly inspirational – the shop looks terrific, it is temperature controlled which means that the cheeses can be displayed in the open which is great for immediate impact.
“Andy has visited and made cheese with almost all of his suppliers and remains in constant contact with them which helps him to source the very best of each batch and also add new products as soon as they are made. Pictures of cheese producers and a cheese map of Britain are excellent additional touches that help customers to connect with regional cheeses and the people who make them. The competition this year was much fiercer than 2012. Britain’s cheesemongers are really raising their game, providing stunning products and service – they are simply miles ahead of anything supermarkets are doing”.
Opened in 2012, The Courtyard Dairy is a specialist cheese shop selling the very best cheeses from the British Isles and Europe – with a firm commitment to supporting the few remaining independent farmhouse cheesemakers.
“Andy and Kathy are completely dedicated to the art of cheesemaking – not simply as retailers but as experts through years of study, talking to and working with cheesemakers and knowing cheese production from the grass up. Andy took a scholarship in Cheese Maturing through the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, then an apprenticeship in France in Affinage (cheese maturing) on top of having a degree in Culinary Arts & Hospitality, so his expertise and dedication to cheese is based on immense knowledge about his subject,” said John Farrand, organiser of the Big Cheese Challenge held at the World Cheese Awards.
Andy also gathered valuable hands-on experience and skill; working at Borough Market in London, with Cheddar makers in Somerset, and also at Paxton & Whitfield, London which has Royal Warrants stretching back to 1850. At Paxton & Whitfield Andy had the pleasure of delivering cheese, by hand to Buckingham Palace and coincidentally, Paxton & Whitfield was last year’s winner of the Cheese Counter of the Year.
An epic road trip involved expert judges travelling around the UK to assess the cheese counters of 10 shortlisted delis, farm shops and specialist cheesemongers, looking at areas such as product range, knowledge, training and display.
The 10 finalists, who were picked from over 80 entries included:
The Courtyard Dairy, Settle, North Yorkshire (WINNER)
Paxton & Whitfield, Jermyn Street, London (RUNNER UP)
The Cheese Plate, Buntingford, Herts (awarded THIRD place)
Arcadia Deli, Belfast
Arch House Deli, Bristol
Cheddar Deli, Ealing, London
The Cheese Society, Lincoln
Delifonseca Dockside, Liverpool
Gonalston Farm Shop, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
Umami Delicatessen, Wantage, Oxfordshire