Meet Tyne Chease The UK’s First Artisan Vegan Cheese Company and They're Based in the North East
Why Tyne Chease?
My wife Ami started Tyne Chease back in 2014. Due to the nature of her parents’ work she spent her childhood in various countries such as Ethiopia, India, Afghanistan and Malawi.
As lifelong vegans often living in remote places with little to no access to specialist vegan products, cheese was something Ami’s family, who are all vegan, missed, so Ami started to make her own.
I came on board in 2018 as managing director to take over the business side of things as Ami wanted to be a full-time mum to our son Abe. Ami is now back as managing director leading the company once again.
How did Tyne Chease actually come about?
When Ami returned to the UK for university, she could already see a gap in the market around vegan food products in general. The vegan cheese offering at the time was primarily one or two different brands providing soya - or coconut oil-based vegan cheeses that tried, but often failed, to melt.
This got Ami thinking about how to make her own cheese that was healthy, nutritious and simple in its ingredients. After Ami finished her business management degree she got to work developing and testing out various ingredient combinations and production methods over the course of a few years.
The problem at first was that Ami was trying to replicate the meltability aspect of dairy cheese, and it wasn’t until she changed her focus to concentrate on taste and palatability that it started to work.
We then trialled our cheese at a vegan festival in Sunderland to see if people would take to the product and they loved it! We registered the business shortly after, becoming the first company in the UK to produce artisan vegan cheese.
How do you make your vegan cheese?
Our cheese is made from cashews and thanks to the amount of healthy fats in cashews, they are perfect for use in making cheese sauces or in our case, cheese.
Cashews are also a tricky ingredient to get right in terms of sourcing, but all our cashews are organic and sourced ethically with our suppliers being members of SEDEX, which audits and promotes ethical supply chains.
As proud artisans, all our products are hand-formed, hand-wrapped, hand-boxed, hand-labelled and if we could hand-crush our cashews, we’d do that too!
Talk us through the range.
Each product tells a story and gives you a small insight into the person who created it. Our Ethiopian Spice is reminiscent of the flavours Ami experienced during the six years she lived in a small village outside Mek’ele in Ethiopia. Our Za’atar Spice reminds us of our brief time living in Dubai and eating za’atar manakish by the creek in Deira. Our Provençal lets you in on the flavours Ami smelled and tasted visiting her grandmother in the South of France each summer. Our River Stout and Marinara were created by our general manager Adam, who wanted to translate two of his favourite things, craft beer and pizza, into cheese. Regardless of the flavour, each will tell a story about ourselves or our team and we love them all.
What’s your own favourite flavour?
My personal favourite is either our Blueberry Oak or our Marinara. Both flavours pack a punch and really stand out on a cheese board. Ami’s favourite is Chives and our son Abe’s favourite is Garlic, both of which are extremely versatile flavours that will work with just about anything.
Are you working on anything new?
We have several projects on the go but we are mainly working on a brand new alternatives range which will be dedicated dairy cheese replicas. We have always said our current products don’t aim to replicate or mimic any specific dairy cheese because if we say it’s a cheddar or a brie-style of cheese customers will automatically create a reference point to the dairy version – and the vegan version rarely holds up. We therefore decided not to base our current products on a particular dairy cheese, so customers can enjoy it for what it is, however one of our most popular questions has always been “do you have that dairy replica?” and we got tired of always saying no. So, we’re working on crafting various dedicated replicas such as brie, camembert and mozzarella.
What makes your products so unique?
We have the largest and most diverse range of flavours of any artisan vegan cheese in the UK. We also focus on the taste, texture and composition of our products above all else. It doesn’t matter to us if our products melt or don’t melt (they don’t, in case you’re wondering), but we care more about getting the flavour, texture and the ingredients right.
Other than cheese, what is your favourite food?
As a family, sushi is one of our favourite cuisines which often shocks people because they associate sushi with raw fish – it actually refers to the vinegared rice in the dish. We make various maki rolls, with cucumber, carrots, tofu, pickled daikon and mango, and often switch it up by making deconstructed sushi bowls instead.
Describe Tyne Chease in three words.
Artisan, family-focused, creative.