Cheese, Cows and Curd at Quickes Cheese Farm

Top Devon chefs gathered at the picturesque, family-run Quickes Cheese Farm nestled in the beautiful north Devon countryside.  Mary Quicke MBE was the perfect host and her infectious enthusiasm for cheese fascinated the fifty culinary experts who attended.  The event was  held on the 9th March 2015 and organised by The Chefs’ Forum in association with Cheese Cellar to raise the profile of Quickes Cheese and cheese making to top Devon chefs.

The Quicke family have been farming at Home Farm, near the village of Newton St. Cyres for over 450 years.  In 1990, Sir John Quicke and his wife Prue built the dairy where their daughter Mary Quicke MBE continues to produce outstanding cheeses today.

Ian WebberThe afternoon continued with Mary Quicke providing an insight into how her award winning cheddar is made, followed by Ian Webber’s inventive cookery demonstration for Chicken with Celeriac, Quickes Smoked Cheddar and Thyme. Eight chefs were invited to compete in a traditional butter patting contest under the expert guidance of Quickes own butter patter, Sophie Mitchell.  Attendees also experienced a tour of Quickes dairy and the famous cheese cathedral which can house up to 13,000 27kg rounds of cheese at any one time.

Mary Quicke comments; “It’s great to have so many wonderful chefs visit Home Farm and to see these young students being inspired by more seasoned chefs. There has been a real sense of sharing knowledge today and people have willingly given their free time to attend. As a producer I think it is so important for local chefs to know about the food being grown and made in the region. It was a joy to take everyone on a tour of the Quickes dairy and to impart a better understanding of our cheese’s provenance. There were so many positives to be taken from a day like this – not least that Ian and his protégées for the day really showed us how versatile an ingredient cheese can be.”

untitled-6383Learners from Hit Training worked under Ian Webber and his team from The Five Belles at Clyst Hydon to help create and serve canapés showcasing his menu at the nearby restaurant. The work-based learners all benefitted greatly from meeting some of the top connoisseurs in the restaurant industry and can’t wait to help out at the next Chefs’ Forum event which will take place this May.

Ian Webber commented:
“Chefs’ Forum events enable us to involve trainee chefs and work towards creating great chefs for the future. It is our collective responsibility to indentify and encourage tomorrow’s great chefs.  This will ensure that creativity, talent and passion continue to flow through the catering industry. I found today’s event extremely rewarding and the HIT Training learners were an asset to my team in helping to prepare and serve canapés”

Paul Mannering, Academy Principal for HIT Training added:
“This event was an excellent opportunity for our learners to meet and learn from industry experts who excel in the catering field as well as allowing us to showcase the apprentice chefs’ talent and skill.  Learners who took part said that they had an interesting and inspirational day which was very pleasing to hear.  It was extremely positive to see so many top chefs supporting the next generation of hospitality professionals”.

The exciting event saw top chef equipment, suppliers and local producers come together to showcase new products, techniques and share knowledge among catering industry people.

untitled-6442Cheese expert Owen Davies, Category Manager for Artisan Cheeses at Cheese Cellar stated:
“Mary Quicke is a legend and a true inspiration in the cheese world. It is fantastic to work with producers like her. Mary continually works to improve her product and is currently involved in writing a cheese education programme which will culminate in a professional qualification for the industry.  It is great to be able to bring chefs and learners to the source of such a fantastic local product enabling them to talk confidently about its provenance.  The Chefs’ Forum is a fantastic opportunity to meet chefs and catering students in the South West region.  Yesterday’s event was all about demonstrating the importance of provenance and environmental awareness needed to create award-winning traditional cheese”.

untitled-6430Other top chefs involved in the Devon chapter of The Chefs’ Forum include Michelin-starred chefs Simon Hulstone (The Elephant), Michael Caines (Gidleigh Park) and Mark Dodson (The Masons Arms).  Devon food hero Peter Gorton is a founder committee member of the Devon Chapter.

The Chefs’ Forum stages 32 chef events a year, from London to Cornwall, and Wales to Kent.


The next Devon event will take place at Boringdon Hall on the 11th of May 2015.

Chefs wishing to attend should contact Chefs’ Forum Founder Catherine Farinha: 07585 700030.

Photography by: Russell Brown (Michelin-starred Chef-Patron of Sienna, Dorset)