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Friday, 7 August 2015

The British Cheese Centre - in Zurich!

Good morning everyone!

I don't know about you but I am extremely find of stories about people that defy the odds and follow their hearts. The story of Maya, the owner of The British Cheese Centre in Zurich is an example of how love for a subject can make you work yourself to the bone and succeed in creating your very own environment when others say otherwise. Who would have thought about opening a British Cheese Centre in a country that is already worldwide known for its fondness to cheese and cheese fondue?! Who would have been so wildly crazy and courageous at the same time to get on a very small niche market and open up a cheese shop in the heart of Switzerland - in Zurich - and why?
I have met Maya online, on Facebook, when I was searching for interesting and unique things to do in Zurich.  I was assigned for a business trip to Zurich for 5 days and I did not want to get to the hotel after work. I wanted to explore the city in the little time I had. After all it was July, a summer month, and there was natural light outside up to 8-9 pm. Why waste the opportunity? When searching for things to do in Zurich I found that having cheese fondue was one of the must items. That lead me to a "cheese chase" for the interesting places in the town. That was how I bumped into The British Cheese Centre. Even the name sparked my attention as I found it interesting that British cheese would be popular in one of cheeses homelands. I though the person who opened the place up must be very brave. I had the good fortune of meeting her in person and I must admit she truly is extraordinary!
I contacted The British Cheese Centre online,  on Facebook, and Maya eagerly replied that she would like to have me there,  to check up her shop. She was extremely helpful in sending me the location and how one could get to the shop from the Main Train Station on Bahnhofstrasse. There are several buses that can take you there in less than 15 minutes -  you take the tram no. 4, 13 or 17 towards Escher Wyss platz and leave the Tram at the stop "Dammweg"; you just have to cross the road and you stand in front of the Markethall. Each tram and bus station holds automatic ticket disposals so you can buy them quickly. Don't worry about not catching the bus - they are very frequent and always on time. The public transport in Zurich always works like magic!
Since 2010 The British Cheese Centre runs it's merry shop inside the modern Viadukt. The old viaduct that was in the area was rebuild and redone smartly so now it holds plenty of lovely small shops with homemade and unique products. The Viadukt is very close to Area 5 of the city, where numerous factories were redone in a new style and transformed into public recreational places - some even in blocks of flats that have renting alone (for one month) jumping rocket high to around 4000 francs. It is quite a newly refurbished area with hints of old looking forward to the new age. The Viadukt is the perfect combination  of old and new and it was a pleasure spending an afternoon there with Maya, telling me her story, over a pint of Punk IPA - Scottish blonde with 5,6% alcohol.
Maya's dream started 7 years ago, when she was working in a big company of over 20.000 employees. She was then sent to London in order to discuss about the supply chain management for the dairy products. She was sent to visit dairy farms, in order to check the quality of the products and see how they are produced and stored.  When she came back home she realised that her heart remained in Britain and that what she needed to do was to let go of the corporation and follow her own dream - having her very own dairy products shop here, in Zurich! So she moved back and entered a niche market.
Maya had been inspired by the work she had done in the United Kingdom. She had travelled around Scotland, Ireland and London, talked to the masters of cheese and fell in love with what she has seen. You can see her live when she shares her story - her eyes light up when she starts telling you about the history and the beginning of her shop.
Did you know that during the Second World War there were no more dairy farms? The government would collect the milk but it would not be used in any other way than create just one type of cheddar that was used to feed the citizens? I did not knew that and I really enjoy these stories. I find them fascinating and worth to be shared, so we would remember and not repeat the mistakes of the old. We need no more wars!
After the war the producers came back to creating and bringing to life the traditional British dairy products. The main milk used in Britain to create high quality dairy products is sheep and goat. Probably the most well know is the Rachel type,  but there are over 70 types of cheeses that the British Cheese Centre can provide! That is quite a number! All products in the shop are 100% British and they come from Maya's warehouse in London. Everything gets shipped to Zurich according to the customers needs!
As the customers of The British Cheese Centre started to ask for more, the customer demand grew and now there are additional products that can be found within the shop. Everything that goes brilliantly with cheese! From chutney to crackers to beer ;) and if you have a sweet tooth you can also try the traditional fudge. There are no artificial ingredients and the products are all high quality and locally produced (in Great Britain).
Maya is now thinking of expanding and giving an opportunity to others to learn more about what Britain has to offer. The British Cheese Centre is now open for franchise - currently Maya is thinking g of Geneva and Base,  but who knows what's next in stored?  :) If you have an idea and you wish to begin your collaboration with The British Cheese Center, contact her via Facebook, and tell her your proposal. She is an amazing open and kind-hearted lady and she will hear your project. If it fits her idea and her dreams on where The British Cheese Center is going forward to, she will for sure let you know :)
The main buyers are either the expats living in Zurich (and there are hoards of expats, let me tell you!) but also locals that tried the products before. The British expats would always come for "a piece of home" and have a pint and some cheese and crackers. But that is not all! One of The British Cheese Centre guarded secrets is the most yummy Scottish fondue and Maya has a secret receipe ;) the fondue is usually sold between October and February (so sadly enough I have missed it but I hope one day I will try it!) and it is made with Old Tom dark beer and whiskey (instead of the traditional Swiss white wine and kirsch).
I had the pleasure of having some ale and a platter of several types of cheeses along with chutney and crackers. I must admit it made my day and I needed no dinner that evening :) it was all deliciously yummy and pleasant and it was my pleasure hearing Maya tell her story. Her shop is a must when touring the city and you need to drop by and buy some cheese and crackers from there. The you can have a picnic with all that, by the lake, just as I did. I recommend that from the bottom of my heart!.

The British Cheese center is open from 10 am to 8 pm on Monday and Thursday. Friday and Saturday the schedule is a bit longer and it opens at 8 am - closing time remains the same ;) 

Address: Markthalle IM VIADUKT, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland

The Website also holds a bonus for people living in Zurich: you can order online! :)

** Sponsored post but written from the heart, without any external influences**

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that truly loves cheese

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