The Fine Cheese Co.

TOAST talks to Ann-Marie Dyas about fine produce and incredible cheeseboards

Nothing else quite beats a show-stopping cheeseboard at the end of dinner…especially at Christmas! TOAST talks to Ann-Marie Dyas, co-founder of none other than the world-renowned Fine Cheese Co to hear more about their incredible produce and to get her top tips on how to create the ultimate cheeseboard this winter.

I have many weaknesses in life, but I have to say that cheese is my absolutely kryptonite. If I am trying to be good I might resist that second mince pie, or that third glass of wine (ahem) but cheese? Never.
For many, opening up a chocolate shop would be considered ‘the dream’ but for me it would be a cheesemongers, without doubt. Someone currently living my cheesy fantasy is Ann-Marie Dyas, Co-Founder of highly regarded and much celebrated Fine Cheese Co
“I was born in a shop. Well, almost!” laughs Ann-Marie, “I was certainly in the pram when my mother found herself running my ailing grandmother’s grocery store in South Wales. It was the early 1950’s and I have so many memories of this time, like my mother cutting and wrapping butter from a slab, serving loose biscuits from a tin, and how my school friends used to admire our sweet counter!” 

Fine Cheese Co Team

In the year that followed Ann-Marie spent time working in food marketing before moving into food advertising, and so it seemed only natural that she would go on to start up a food business of her own. 

“It was half stomach-led and half head!” she laughs“In the late 80’s it was difficult to source really good cheese, and artisan-made British cheese just wasn’t that widely available. Around the time of the Campaign for Real Ale, my husband and I felt that we wanted to join like-minded people who were part of an unofficial campaign for real cheese – inspired by Patrick Rance, author of the seminal Great British Cheesebook. So we left London, and careers in marketing and advertising, for the country, and opened a cheese shop! Being behind the counter again took me back to my roots in food retailing. I had come home.”

Fast forward 20 years and The Fine Cheese Co. now has two beautiful cheese shops; one in the historic city of Bath and more recently, the snazzy streets of Belgravia. Both offer up a plethora of mouth-watering cheeses, as well as acting as stylish deli / cafés where you can indulge in an authentic Italian ‘Piantagioni del Caffè’ coffee or spot of brunch whilst shopping for your goods. They are also The Telegraph's Best Supplier of Mail Order Cheese and Biscuits, and one of The Sunday Times' Five Best Food Websites; I ask Ann-Marie what her secret to success is.

Well, our philosophy is; always seek out the best and when you find it - keep looking! Stay true to your principles and don’t sacrifice quality for profit, and finally - love what you do, otherwise you won’t make a success of it!”

Fine Cheese Co Store

From rediscovered gems such as Devon Oke, a hard but creamy cows’ milk cheese made to the original seventeenth century recipe, to Lord of the Hundreds, an unpasteurised mature sheep’s milk cheese made in the style of an Italian Pecorino, The Fine Cheese Co. stock over a staggering one hundred hand-made British cheeses, as well as importing artisan cheeses from France, Italy, Spain and Holland.

The range that we source and stock is the best that we have found throughout the UK and Europe, and after 25 years it is still work in progress!” explains Ann-Marie. 

“Artisan cheese isn’t made by cutting corners or making quality sacrifices for the sake of profit. So, you have to expect to pay a little more for top quality artisan-made cheese, and savour it!”

Fine Cheese Co Shop

From spicy blues to a creamy goat, a nutty Comté to a stinky French Brie so ripe and runny that it almost crawls off your plate, I simply couldn’t pick my favourite, and neither could Ann-Marie. 

“What’s my favourite cheese? You can’t ask a cheese-monger that kind of question! It’s like asking which is your favourite child?” she laughs.

“However, I do love pretty much any cheese made with ewes’ milk. It ticks all my cheese boxes. When young, ewes’ milk cheeses are silky soft and delicately rich, like Wigmore or Flower Marie. They also age beautifully, often leaving a creamy flavour in the mouth, noticeable in a top drawer Manchego like the three-month La Oveja Negra. Ewes’ milk cheeses become fruity and sweet with age too, like a Lord of the Hundreds.”

Comte Manchego Brie De Meaux Cheese Selection Fine Cheese Co

As well as serving some of the best cheese in the country, The Fine Cheese Co. has also created its very own range of unique crackers (made by their sister Company, Artisan Biscuits), fruits, whole fruits, chutneys, and English pickles for cheese, designed to complement and add to the overall experience and perfect for creating the ultimate cheeseboard; and it is this overall experience that makes me love cheese even more.

The ritual of creating a beautiful display on a cheeseboard featuring truly delicious, eye-catching artisan cheeses and sweet, colorful accompaniments is a lovely opportunity to be really creative, before triumphantly placing it in the middle of the table and watching as your guests’ eyes light up!! And then, of course, you get to eat it! And enjoy the experience of sharing it with family and friends.

Whether it’s for Christmas day, a dinner party treat or a cosy cheese and wine night at home, head over to TheEdit where Ann-Marie shares her top tips for creating the ultimate cheeseboard this winter. Enjoy! 

Cheese Board

The Fine Cheese Co Biscuits And Crackers

For more information or to order your Christmas cheese hamper from The Fine Cheese Co. take a look at their listing on our Little Black Book.  


Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 22 November 2016

  cheese, cheeseboard, dinner party

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