Trust a Frenchman — and a top chef at that — to put together an amazing cheese board. For Julien Royer, a selection of beautiful cheeses in his fridge at home is a must. His preferred selections? He gets them from The Cheese Ark.
“I like that Ming (owner of The Cheese Ark) is sourcing some really small-producer cheeses, and that she has direct access to the people she’s met and has visited their farms,” says the chef-owner of Restaurant Odette in Singapore.
“I have always been a big cheese lover and a big cheese eater,” he adds. We are ensconced at The Cheese Ark, working our way through a mountain of its different varieties. Ming is playing attendant, taking us through maturations, textures, and production techniques.
Her tales of provenance and technique bring him back to the cheese experiences of his childhood. “I remember my first time. It was a cow’s milk cheese made by my grandmother. It didn’t follow a traditional recipe, and it was really earthy with very light saltiness, and very crumbly,” he adds, his eyes alight.
Why Traditionally-Made Cheeses Are Best
He bemoans cheeses that are produced industrially today. “You can’t compare cheeses made by machines to cheeses made on a farm,” says Royer. “I have a deep admiration for the work (cheese-makers) do with their hands. I think it’s a beautiful tradition that needs to last.”
“It’s amazing how your hands and such a simple ingredient like milk can produce such a beautiful product.”
When it comes to putting together a cheese board, Royer follows a specific rule: Make sure there are different families of cheeses, each with a distinct taste profile. Ideally, you’ll sink your teeth into soft cheeses like a camembert, light crumbly goat’s cheese, sharp and salty blue cheeses, and hard cheeses like comte.
Royer has recently partnered Keyyes as the first brand ambassador for the Gourmet section, where you’ll find a curation of chefs’ favourites and hard-to-find selections from small-batch producers. You can find his favourite cheeses from The Cheese Ark on the Keyyes Marketplace.