The Big Cheese
Don’t let cheese be an afterthought on your menu.
With customers seeking out strong flavoured cheeses, local producers and developing a taste for soft goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses, the British Cheese Board is warning caterers that they are missing out on a huge opportunity by not selling their cheese offering better.
“Restaurants have wonderful menus that describe in detail each course, but then they end it with a simple ‘cheese board’ with zero explanation,” said Nigel White from the British Cheese Board. “Customers want to know what type of cheeses they have on offer and more importantly where they come from – especially if they are local. Restaurants are missing out on a huge opportunity by not advertising their cheese boards as some customers will actually visit a restaurant just for that.”
Here are the British Cheese Board’s tips to help you get the best out of your cheese board.
Serve at room temperature
Many restaurants and cafes make the mistake of serving cheese straight from the refrigerator. Cheese should be served at room temperature – whatever the type. It is a living product that is developing all the time, so chilling stops it from maturing. To reduce waste, just take out a few portions an hour before serving, remove any packaging and cover with a tea towel.
Big up your cheese
A cheese course is just as important as a starter and mains so make sure you shout about it! Customers are willing to travel for a specific cheese and with interest around local produce growing, an amazing and/or local cheese board will pull in customers if they know about it. Advertise the fact on your menu and website, and brief your staff. Not only will this impress customers but could boost sales and return visits.
The same effort that goes into knowing the day’s specials should also apply to your cheese board. Waiting staff should be able to reel off the names of all the cheeses available, and be knowledgeable about any special cheeses or local products. Staff members’ expertise or lack of it could be what makes the crucial difference between whether a customer orders cheese – or not.
Pair it up
Pairing cheese with booze is a great idea – but it doesn’t necessarily always have to be red wine! A fruity white wine works very well with cheese, and a pudding wine or sweet sherry works too. Stilton with port is a fantastic pairing. Grapes, celery and crackers are standard accompaniments but you could make your cheese board really stand out with some exciting alternatives. Why not offer heritage apples or fresh figs, preserves and jellies such as quince, or dried fruits like dates or apricots?
West Country Farmhouse Cheddar is one for your menu. It will be one year old in the autumn so now and running into winter is a great time to eat it – it’ll be perfect to order for Christmas!