Zoë Perrett talks to the cheese club co-founder and North PR Managing Director about beginnings, birthdays, and Blur bassists
Think ‘fine cheese’ and your mind’s internal map won’t lead you directly to Leeds. But, seven years ago, it was that vibrant city which spawned Homage2Fromage: a smash-hit cheese club that, seven years down the line, is a sell-out every month – proving its residents are rather fond of fromage.
And few are fonder than Vickie Rogerson, the club’s co-founder and the big cheese at her own food and drink agency, North PR. Ahead of Homage2Fromage’s seventh birthday celebrations later this month, I got the chance to grill Vickie like a good Rarebit…
Homage2Fromage is about to celebrate its seventh birthday and now takes place not only in its home city of Leeds but also in Sheffield, Harrogate and Manchester – but how did it all come about?
I got married in Tuscany and tried some amazing local cheese there. On my return, I asked Twitter where I could buy it in Leeds. Lots of cheese-loving people joined in the cheese chat until someone said ‘you guys love cheese so much you should start a cheese club’! Then Nick Copland suggested we call it Homage2Fromage.
Well, with a name like that, we had to do it.
Nick and I had never met before, but ended up meeting in a coffee shop to discuss how we would do a cheese club. It was all very random, but we decided to do it. We asked Millie’s whether they’d host it, then we themed it around Cheddar and put 15 tickets on sale. We sold out.
A quick decision on the night to number the cheeses and reveal them later on ended up being the basis for all our subsequent cheese clubs.
Oh, and amazingly, I managed to get Alex James (Blur bassist and now-all-round cheesy guy) to pop in for a chat. Homage2Fromage was born. Seven years later and we’re still running events every month – now across multiple cities – as well as launching a cheese restaurant.
What’s the best thing you’ve got to do as a result of being known as Mrs. Homage2Fromage?
Definitely judging cheese at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards in Nantwich. It was awesome. Also, seeing the cheese menu we developed brought to life in a restaurant – and people actually loving it – was pretty special.
You must have tasted a fair few cheeses in your time – what’s your all-time favourite?
Everyone always asks me this. The simple answer is that it changes all the time. BUT, I will always have a soft spot for a British Cheddar. I switch between which examples I like at certain times, but at the moment I’m really enjoying Godminster and Barber’s.
So that’s love, but what about the flip side… which cheese would you serve to your worst enemy?
The thing with cheese (and the reason I love it so much) is that everyone has their own personal taste. I may dislike a cheese, but the next person absolutely loves it! But I’m pretty over the smoked cheese trend. We have featured lots and lots of smoked cheeses at our events and I haven’t liked any of them. But they end up being everyone else’s favourite, so what do I know?!
People bring all sorts to Homage2Fromage to eat with their cheese; what’s your own favourite accompaniment?
A simple water biscuit. NO BUTTER! I’m also partial to honey dripped over blue cheese.
Cheese and pickle, cheese and ale, cheese and biscuits… these are all pretty classic combos, but is there any kind of pairing you’ve encountered that has been surprisingly successful?
Cheese and dark chocolate.
As you’ve already revealed, a trip to Tuscany sowed the seed for Homage2Fromage – any more dream destinations on your ‘bucket map’ for their fabulous cheeses?
I really want to visit the Cheese Bar in Camden, London. It’s run by an old cheese friend of ours, Matthew Carver. I also just saw a train journey you can do in Switzerland which visits cheese and chocolate makers. That would be amazing. Also, fondue…
The next edition of Homage2Fromage marks the cheese club’s seventh birthday – what can people expect on the night?
We always do a Greatest Hits theme for our birthdays, so basically, it’s a showcase of mine and Nick’s favourite cheeses from the previous year. It’s always a good one.
Make it happen
Where: Homage2Fromage takes plave at various locations in Leeds, Harrogate, Manchester and Sheffield
Find out more: Homage2Fromage’s seventh birthday celebrations kick off in Leeds on 11 October. For availability, info and tickets, click here
Read this: To find out what to expect at Homage2Fromage, click here