Sarah de Wit thinks she has one of the best jobs in the world – she gets to spend her entire working day eating cheese.
Sarah, from Hebden Bridge, has chomped her way through the cheesemonger ranks, landing her dream role as the Official Cheese Taster for Asda.
The coveted position, which she has held for 15 years, sees her eating 27 kilograms of cheese per year – equating to 405 kilograms during her working life alone.
Despite eating copious amounts of cheese on a weekly basis, Sarah manages to stay fit and keep in shape, being a keen road cyclist, cycling 150 miles a week.
Spending her days studying and sampling all sorts of cheese – around 160 different cheeses a month – she tastes everything from Roquefort to Ricotta and Chevre to Camembert.
Sarah’s key responsibility is ensuring that customers are receiving the highest quality and most flavoursome fromage around.
She first fell in love with cheese at the age of seven during a family holiday in France.
Visits to the local fromagerie sparked a fascination with all the ‘complex aromas, flavours, and textures’.
She then went on to study food science at university, which further cemented her passion. Proving her dedication to the job, Sarah, who was previously known as the ‘coffee addict’, has even sacrificed her coffee intake during the working week, claiming that it ‘meddles with the palate’ and ‘affects the flavour’ of the cheese.
She also spends 30 minutes every day cleansing her palate before sampling any cheese to ensure her taste buds are in tip top shape, swearing by eating lemon sorbet, pickled ginger or dry crackers.
“Cheese is my absolute passion and I take my job very seriously. Tasting cheese is not dissimilar to tasting wine – there is a real art to it and you need to fully engage all the senses to really appreciate all the flavours. The order you taste it in is also really important – always start with the mildest cheese and work your way up to the most mature, so you don’t confuse your taste buds.”
Sarah is continuously working to innovate and identify new cheese trends across the globe.
She recently travelled to France, Spain and Italy in search of inspiration, which saw her introduce the new Extra Special Burrata and Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella to Asda’s cheese aisle.
“Our cheese plates are really evolving, it’s no longer about simply cheese and crackers – cheese is now the hero of our dishes. We’re seeing a big trend towards lighter and fresher cheese from regional Italy and burrata is really leading the charge at the moment. It’s one of my personal favourites!” Unsurprisingly, she is well versed in the perfect cheese pairings, confessing her ideal dinner party ends with her favourite combination of goats cheese with almonds and honey, accompanied with a glass of red wine.