Hayley Collins is a newly qualified cheese grader at the Taw Valley creamery in the heart of the breathtaking Devon countryside.
Reduced fat cheese has become really popular
After an intensive four-year apprenticeship, Hayley is responsible for ensuring the award winning hard cheeses are matured to perfection. But ‘perfection’ depends to a large extent on the tastes of each of their retail clients, as Hayley is quick to point out:
“At Taw Valley we work really, really closely with our customers; they all have their unique recipes and…I have a really good idea of what they are looking for.”
If there’s one thing that a champion cheese maker needs it’s a passion for the product, and Hayley checks the cheese at every stage of the maturation process to ensure it has just the right body, texture and taste.
Taw Valley may be famous for its traditional Red Leicester, Double Gloucester and Cheddar, but Hayley is typically forward-looking in her outlook. Indeed, one of her favourite parts of the job is seeking new ways of satisfying the public’s ever-changing needs. “Reduced fat cheese has become really popular,” Hayley enthuses. “And we’re working hard with our Innovations Team to get our reduced fat cheese as close as possible to Cheddar, so you still get a real punchy flavour.”
Hayley is intensely proud of Taw Valley’s output, but she’s particularly fond of the creamery’s signature cheese – the legendary Castello Tickler, a super strong extra mature Cheddar with delicate calcium lactate crystals and a long taste profile with meaty, savoury notes and a touch of sweetness.
That pride is also evident when it comes to winning awards. Taw Valley is a regular name on national and international trophies, but sleepless nights still come before every major competition for Hayley:
“Waiting for the results is a nervous time because we put such passion and hard work into what we do here – when we win those awards it makes all that hard work even more worthwhile.”