Big cheese shares her se­crets with Ki­wis

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

The first time Juliet Har­butt sam­pled top qual­ity Euro­pean cheese was a lifechang­ing mo­ment.

She owned a Wellington deli-cafe called The Par­son’s Nose and the dis­cov­ery oc­curred while she was on a re­search trip in Paris in the late 1980s.

‘‘It was a to­tal epiphany. I couldn’t be­lieve cheese could be so ex­tra­or­di­nary,’’ she says.

The goat’s cheese and triple cream cheese she tried that day were a ma­jor de­par­ture from the cheese she’d grown up eat­ing in her Ep­som fam­ily home.

‘‘My fa­ther used to have blue vein spread on crack­ers, which I thought was re­volt­ing. We used to have Colby and jam sand­wiches which was my idea of bliss.’’

Har­butt’s love of food was in­her­ited from her mother.

‘‘Food was my mother’s way of say­ing ‘I love you’. She was an amaz­ing cook and food was es­sen­tial to our lives.’’

Ev­ery­thing at The Par­son’s Nose was made from scratch.

‘‘I used to go around the hills of Wellington pick­ing wild parsely and wa­ter­cress,’’ she says.

‘‘It was all about fresh food but only be­cause I didn’t know how else to do it. I was in­ad­ver­tently very ahead of my time.’’

She sold the business after her Parisian cheese ex­pe­ri­ence and moved to London to set up Jer­oboams: The Wine and Cheese Shop in South Kens­ing­ton.

‘‘I de­cided if that was cheese I didn’t see any point con­tin­u­ing my ca­reer in cook­ing. I’d just do bread, cheese and wine. It was won­der­ful but it was a lot of hard work.’’

She sold that business after seven years and started writ­ing and do­ing con­sul­tancy work for com­pa­nies like Har­rods and the su­per­mar­ket chain Tesco.

She’s writ­ten var­i­ous books on cheese in­clud­ing her first book The World En­cy­clo­pe­dia of Cheese which was pub­lished in 1998.

She’s cur­rently work­ing on the sec­ond edi­tion of The World Cheese Book, which has sold 84,000 copies world­wide and has been trans­lated into nine dif­fer­ent lan­guages in the last five years.

Her ex­per­tise has been recog­nised in many ways over the years, in­clud­ing by the French who made her a mem­ber of the Guilde des Fro­magers Con­frerie du Sain­tUgu­zon ( The French Cheese Guild).

Up un­til about five years ago Har­butt used to write a col­umn on cheese for NZ House & Gar­den and came back reg­u­larly to re­search New Zealand cheeses.

‘‘The sad thing is since I stopped do­ing that there’s no other cham­pion of cheese in this coun­try. There’s hun­dreds of wine writ­ers but where’s the cheese writ­ers?’’

That’s partly why she’s shar­ing her knowl­edge at The Wine and Food Cel­e­bra­tion which takes place at The New Zealand School of Food and Wine at 104 Cus­toms St West in the city from Septem­ber 14 to 22.

Har­butt will teach a great cheeses of the world sem­i­nar, a char­cu­terie work­shop as well as a five-day cer­tifi­cate in cheese.

Photo: KA­RINA ABA­DIA

Shar­ing pas­sion: Cheese ex­pert Juliet Har­butt is giv­ing a se­ries of work­shops at The New Zealand School of Food and Wine. She grew up in Ep­som but is now based in the UK.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz to watch a video of Juliet Har­butt talk­ing about cheese.

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