Matt Feroze grew up in a family that appreciated food; it instilled in him a passion for good produce which as he grew older focussed on cheese. There was no indication when he left university that this love of cheese would ever be anything other than a hobby. Of course he would continue to admire cheese, perhaps even take holidays where he could learn about it and try different makes but that would be it.
Matt took a job in London working for the Civil Service. His days were consumed by audits and spread sheets. In his spare time he continued to dream of cheese… he even spent his annual leave up a mountain in France with a goat farmer making cheese.
When he returned home to his long suffering girlfriend Jen, smelling goaty but ecstatically happy with the experience, they both realised that his passion was growing. For Matt to ever be happy he would need to spend more time on his hobby and a life changing decision was made.
The books tell the story of Matt’s journey from cheese lover to cheese champion. He gave up his comfortable job and persuaded his girlfriend to move with him to Lyon in the south of France. He relentlessly pursued a position where he could learn more about his passion and persuaded a prestigious cheese house to employ and train him. Less than 24 months later, in 2013, he was crowned the Cheese Champion of France – the Champion de France des Fromagers.
Matt tells his extraordinary story with immense modesty, gentle humour and a wry self-deprecation. His little snippets about the cheeses he encounters, production and maturity methods and what he learns about his favourite food are wonderful for anyone who loves cheese or food history.
By the end of the story, when Matt has worked so hard to learn fluent French and hone his skills with cheese – you really feel for him. When he is put forward to participate in the hugely important Cheese championships of France you realise just how far he has come. Matt was required to perform live in front of TV cameras and the top judges in the food world of France. He needed to prepare the perfect cheese platter and prove his knowledge of cheese. In a country where gastronomy is a recognised UNESCO heritage label and where cheese is King – the achievement of a young British civil servant in making it all the way to the top in less than two years is magnificent.
A very enjoyable read about an extraordinarily determined man with a love of fromage. An uplifting tale of inspiration… and cheese!