From Clapper Board to Cheese Board:
Sean Wilson’s Cheese Dream
Sean Wilson found fame on the cobbles of Coronation Street playing Martin Platt for 21 accomplished years before leaving the soap for pastures new – quite literally. In 2005, Sean swapped Betty’s Lancashire Hotpot for mouthwatering Lancashire cheeses of his own making and to great acclaim. Now, not only is he back on the Street but he’s also coming to Food & Drink Expo to share his story and his award-winning Artisan Farm cheeses.
Making the Change to Cheese
After packing his Corrie bags, Sean decided on a complete career change and worked in the kitchen of his friend, Nigel Haworth’s Michelin starred restaurant for a time before meeting cheesemaker extraordinaire, Bob Kitching. Bob taught Sean the art of cheese making, and all Sean needed to know to realise a long-held pipe dream – to make his own cheese.
Using pasteurised milk from the Ribble Valley in the Trough of Bowland, Sean now produces his Lancashire and Blue cheeses in a dairy that keeps its own herd. As provenance is very important to him, he never uses milk from outside the PR3 postcode.
We asked him a few questions about the challenges he has faced in the cheese market.
What important lessons has your business journey taught you?
“There are important lessons all over the retail market scene that I’m still learning. I guess no-one has all the answers but learn lessons we must. It’s difficult with the ‘multiples’ as they deal with an intermediary company who represent my brand. All you can do is provide good marketing and branding and then leave it to your representatives. So, the answer is patience really, to remain creative and patient.”
What advice can you give about standing out in a crowded market?
“Well, my range holds 46 International and National Awards, so their credentials are not in question – which does help them to stand out in my given area of cheese. Then I take the media baton and create media interest throughout the year, where I will be able to highlight the provenance and quality of the range as well as bring a bit of humour to the table – wherever and whenever possible.”
And humour is evident, even in the naming of Sean’s cheeses, some of which take after Lancashire sayings and perfectly sum up the diverse characters of his cheeses:
- Smelly Ha’peth (Blue Cheese)
A child covered in muck after a full day’s play is a “Smelly Ha'peth”
- Muldoon’s Picnic (Crumbly)
A Lancashire term given to a room full of screaming kids! “What d’ya think this is, Muldoon’s Picnic?!”
- How’s yer Father (Creamy)
- Mouth Almighty / Tasty Lancashire (Tasty)
Speaking in a recent Celebrity Radio interview Sean revealed: “My blue cheese is called Smelly Ha’peth and has made quite a name for itself. I’m very proud of it and it came third at the International Cheese Awards, which are the biggest cheese awards in the world… And then I was invited to join the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers which is by invite only. They have 6000 members in the world and I was initiated to the Guilde which is kind of like the cheese world putting its arm around me.”
Come and hear more of Sean’s success story and his experience in the handmade cheese industry at Food & Drink Expo 2018:
From Coronation Street to cheese-maker: live Q&A with Sean Wilson
Wednesday 18th April 12:45pm - 13:30pm
The Grocer Talking Shop Live