Strict standards make big cheese out of Andy

Andy Swinscoe at his shop The Courtyard Dairy, Settle
Andy Swinscoe at his shop The Courtyard Dairy, Settle
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Andy Swinscoe has matured rapidly since setting up shop – he crowned a successful first year by winning UK Cheesemonger of the Year 2013.

The youngster learned his art in France during six months under the watchful eye of Hervé Mons – one of the finest cheese affineurs (maturers) in the world and himself winner of that country’s ‘best artisan craftsman’ award in 2000.

But underpinning Andy’s passion are strict standards and a solid set of business skills developed during a degree at Sheffield Hallam University and then with support from its Graduate Start-Up Grant Scheme.

Andy graduated with a first class honours degree in hospitality business management with culinary arts, before serving his apprenticeship in France,

He then spent two years working as a quality manager at The Fine Cheese Company in Bath, before setting up The Courtyard Dairy in Settle, North Yorkshire, with his wife Kathy in December 2012.

At the same time, Andy had six months’ help in marketing, accounting and entrepreneurial advice through the university’s Enterprise Centre. Under the start-up grant scheme he received £50-a-week – and still returns once a month to sit down with mentor Jill White of Andy Hanselman consulting.

All of this assistance was free, he says.

He added: “I don’t think we would have been as successful without that help. It’s easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day stuff when you’re setting up and running a business.

“The university has given me practical skills and helped me be more strategic.After a year of trading our turnover has doubled and we are looking to employ two part-time staff.”

Andy won Cheesemonger of the Year at the World Cheese Awards after six rounds of skills, blind tasting and knowledge testing. The Courtyard Dairy also won Best Cheese Counter out of 80 entries and site visits by judges. The awards were held at the BBC Good Food Show.