“Cheese is a joy and pleasure that is legal and good for you.”
Like us, Quicke’s are passionate about spending time over their products – we both use starter cultures that we’ve been nurturing for decades at the heart of our recipes and celebrate traditional production methods that have been passed down through generations.
Our aligned ethos and love for cheese is what led us to collaborate together, for our latest Perfect Picnic competition and for this journal.
Mary Quicke is the 14th generation of the Quicke family on Home Farm, who’s been running the cheese business in Devon since 1987. Mary’s passion for making artisan cheese makes her an inspirational figure in the industry and this recognised dedication led her to receive an MBE in 2005 for her contribution to farming and cheesemaking.
Mary was also the main driving force behind the launch of the Academy of Cheese in 2017, a highly regarded organisation that aims to promote cheese knowledge and career development. We’re proud to be sponsors of the Academy and strongly support their mission to bring cheese education to both the food industry and the wider public.
Are you able to start with some history behind the Quicke’s brand and how it became the business it is today?
It’s recorded that my family has been tending for the land on Home Farm for 14 generations, dating back to 1540 – however, the dairy farm really came into its own after the two World Wars had ended. After this, regulations around cheesemaking were very much affected – farmers were only permitted to make ‘National Cheese’, a bland cheddar-style creation that lacked any sort of texture, character or flavour.
The nation’s appetite for delicious, locally made cheese was growing which presented an opportunity to create something extraordinary in comparison. In the 1970’s, my brother John (Land Owner and Director) moved back to the farm to make cheese – with a vision to honour his lineage and the ancient fields of his farm.
It wasn’t until 1984 that my husband Tom and I came back to the farm, determined to help John in making Quicke’s one of the first farm-based brands in the U.K.
What is it that you love about the industry?
Cheese people are passionate, collaborative and interested in technical nerdy stuff. And cheese is joy and pleasure that is legal and good for you.
How has the farm/business adapted during COVID 19?
There is now lots of PPE and changes to protect our team and customers. We were forced to stop making cheese for nine weeks, selling a lot less product through our normal channels – restaurants, events, deli counters and export were all affected.
We did however have a lot of people reaching out to us to get hold of their favourite Quicke’s cheese when they couldn’t get it elsewhere, so our online sales dramatically increased.
Do you think COVID 19 and the ‘Save British Cheese’ campaign has helped drive a resurgence in people shopping more selectively and locally for food?
I think there is a bit of a twin-track. There are lots of people, either experiencing food poverty or shielding challenges giving ‘access to great food poverty’, so they may be restricted to the much more limited range now available from supermarkets. And this whole drama over food has also driven a real interest in where food comes from, the importance of the delicate local food web, and a sense of consumers’ power in having food businesses thrive in the choices they make.
Lastly, what would be your favourite Quickes cheese and Peter’s Yard pairing board include?
I love the magnificent Peter’s Yard Original Crispbreads with our Vintage Cheddar and Hard Goats Cheese. I love pairing those with some funky home-grown salad leaves and a bottle of Tremlett’s Bitter, one of Sandford Orchards’ single variety ciders.
You can shop directly from Quicke’s on their website: www.quickes.co.uk/