chutney and charcuterie on a metal tray

Interview with a Cheese Expert and how to create the perfect cheese board

With a passion for all things cheese Dan Smith is making it his mission to open up the wider world of cheese to as many people as possible. Given his wealth of knowledge on the subject, we thought we’d learn more about cheese from an expert – including: How to choose cheeses for the perfect cheese board or charcuterie board! Perfect timing as we get holiday season ready!

What do you like about cheese? 

If you look at the cheese counter in your local grocery store you will see creamy brie, sharp cheddars, grainy parm and stinky blues and they all come from one main ingredient – Milk! I’ve always liked cheese but it’s only through studying it that I began to truly appreciate it. The more I learn, the more I love it! Other than that, it is just plain delicious and is about as versatile an ingredient as you could ever hope to find!

How do you choose the right cheese?

What is the right cheese depends entirely on what you are going to be doing with it! Parmigiano Reggiano is hard to beat for Italian cooking (non-pizza division), cheddar is super flexible for everything from sandwiches to cheese sauces and gruyere and comte are amazing paired with butter and potatoes. It can be fun to experiment with using different cheeses in a variety of ways and you may find something that works well but a lot of the classic dishes are classics for a reason! 

Where are your favourite cheeses from?

Right now, I would have to say Canada and the UK and that’s mostly because I live in Canada and am from the UK. Canadian cheeses are underrated. When it comes to “fancy” cheese people look to classic European cheeses. There’s nothing wrong with those cheeses, it’s just that they’ve travelled a long way to get here. I appreciate the freshness of a Canadian cheese. Atlantic Canada has some excellent cheeses and I’m just getting started with Quebecois cheeses, which have been amazing so far!

How do you go about choosing a variety of cheeses for the perfect cheese board?

This year I’ve spent a lot of time studying and learning about cheese and I keep reading that the classic cheese board is a soft cheese, a hard cheese and a blue cheese. I usually then read that you don’t need to stick to that and can do whatever you like! My first step is to think about who will be eating the cheese – if someone doesn’t like blue then that’s out (unless I can find a creamy blue that I think they could like), if someone loves goats cheese then I will try to find a good one and if someone loves cheddar I may grab a couple of different kinds so we can talk about how they compare to each other. After that, you can’t go too far wrong – you could go for the best versions you can find of cheeses you know, or you could get all new cheeses and see what everybody thinks of them!

About Smith and Hartlen Fine Cheese

Black and White photo of a man, smiling, in a knit sweater

Dan moved to Canada 15 years ago from the UK. Since relocating to Nova Scotia he decided to turn his passion for cheese into his career. He started Smith and Hartlen Fine Cheese which offers a curated and convenient way to taste the best cheeses from across Canada and the UK.

Stop by the Harvest and Wild booth at Christmas at the Forum for a chance to win a prize basket including a Smith and Hartlen Cheese Box!

You can find out more about Smith and Hartlen Fine Cheese at:
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