The famous Dorset Blue Vinny didn’t start off perfect, you know. There was a time that Dorset Blue was made in nearly farmhouse, before dying out for 300 years… Only to be resurrected by Emily’s father during a time of milk glut and butter mountains. Eventually, Dorset Blue became not only an award winning, protected food name product – but also a range of delicious soups, chutneys and a name that stands for local produce and supporting the independent hospitality industry.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:01:58 Meeting Emily & setting the scene in the north of Dorset
00:02:50 The History of Dorset Blue Vinny – before it came into Emily’s family
- 00:03:03 “It used to be made in nearly every farmhouse in Dorset.”
00:04:17 Why did the cheese die out after 300 years?
00:04:34 Emily’s dad resurrecting Dorset Blue, getting up to feed 200+ cows
- 00:06:47 “When we actually cut the cheese eventually, the walls had gone blue in the pantry – it was just a nightmare…It was NUCLEAR.” [Chatting about the first batch of cheese]
- 00:07:41 “We are really proud of him – really proud of the cheese, but really proud that he had already though about that back then.”
00:07:57 The ‘milk glut’ and ‘butter mountain’ crisis – what’s changed since then?
00:08:50 How long did it take to get the cheese right?
- 00:09:52 “You say – how long did it take to get it right, but we haven’t. And I think that’s the magic of the product – it’s handmade, and it really does vary.”
00:10:29 Why cheese fluctuates so often – e.g. a cow’s diet
00:11:19 The process of making Dorset Blue
- 00:12:00 “And then in the morning, you’ve got this brilliant vision of a mattress of curd in amongst the weighs… All of this is done by hand.”
00:13:55 What’s so distinctive about Dorset Blue cheese?
- 00:14:18 “Its nearest relative would be stilton – but our cheese is much more delicate.”
00:15:06 In 1998 – being the first to be awarded with a protected food name (PGI), meaning if anyone makes Dorset Blue they need permission and to use their recipe
- 00:16:26 How old was Emily when this was all going on?
00:16:40 Growing up & becoming a tennis teacher
00:19:24 Getting into cheese & the family business
- 00:20:38 “You absolutely have to carve your niche – as a family business, you can’t just rock up say ‘here I am’… You have to prove yourself.”
00:21:07 The cheese is ready; how did it work? How long has Emily been back involved in the business?
00:23:01 Going from half a tonne to making three and a half tonnes of cheese a month – how has this been achieved?
00:23:45 Challenges Emily faces when making her cheese – managing cows, TB & pasteurisation
- 00:23:39 “The frustrating thing about TB is that it doesn’t reflect the way you farm.”
00:27:27 The buzz of creating your own product from scratch
00:28:13 Does Emily ever have to throw a batch of cheese away? When can it go wrong?
00:29:50 The conscious decision to not supply supermarkets – and how it’s different
00:31:59 Does Dorset cheese distribute nationally?
- 00:32:44 “People are buying it for their grandpa who now lives in Nottingham, or an Aunty that hasn’t had it for ages, or they’ve moved away from the county – and they still have really lovely fond memories of the cheese.”
- 00:33:41 “Distribution is one of our biggest headaches.”
00:34:43 The UK catching up with making product and the importance of sourcing from local business
- 00:36:27 “The great thing about our cheese is that it’s multifunctional.”
00:36:55 Dorset Blue cheese in soup! Ensuring there’s no waste
- 00:39:02 Was it successful? Launching with four different flavours
- 00:39:43 “At the time – fresh soup was a whole new market.”
00:41:50 Developing the chutney – first, pear chutney
00:44:06 Continuing to source locally & using food that would otherwise be wasted
- 00:45:11 “For us, if we got paid an extra penny – then that’s over £2,000 a month for us.”
00:45:51 The impact of price pressure on farmers – is it improving?
- 00:46:10 “The bizarre thing about the industry is that we are the only industry where somebody will tell us what they are prepared to pay for our product. We haven’t come that far from where we are 25 years ago.”
00:47:31 Dorset Blue Vinny and their awards
00:50:25 How big is the Dorset Blue team now? Is it looking to grow?
- 00:53:35 “It’s that contact with humans, its talking about our stock, people wanting to share our story. The local support I’ve had has been absolutely phenomenal.”
00:54:17 Where does Emily do her pop up shop?
00:55:40 Is Emily noticing more competition? Is it harder to compete now?
- 00:56:46 “Anybody that wants to take on making cheese, making food – has got to be good for us.”
00:57:05 Are people starting to care more about where their food comes from?
00:59:06 Advice from Emily on the industry
01:10:11 Where can you go to purchase Dorset Blue Cheese, or learn more?
01:02:20 Marks signoff, final thoughts
If you’re looking to learn a bit more about Emily, the delicious Dorset Blue and how its come to be so successful whilst sticking to its guns – listen to the full Podcast here, or check out their website and social channels: