Meet Atakan, Head Cheesemaker at Hampshire Cheese Company

Meet Atakan, Head Cheesemaker at Hampshire Cheese Company
8 November 2023 Hampshire Cheese Co

Meet the Team

Hampshire Cheese Company has grown from strength to strength over the past few years and Stacey Hedges, Founder, credits much of the success of the award winning Tunworth and Winslade to her expert team.

Today we meet Atakan.

Q. Where did your passion for cheese stem from?

 I was born and raised in Istanbul, and I was always interested in cooking as a child. Both my parents worked so I was often in charge of preparing meals and I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with my sister. I moved away to Ankara to study Dairy Science and Technology at the University of Ankara. During the last year of my degree, I worked in the University’s production department where I became an expert on cheeses and other dairy products such as yoghurt, butter and milk.

Q. When did you start working with cheese?

Dairy Science has always been my passion. So, after University I decided to move to Ireland to learn more about cheesemaking practices, dairy farming and also to improve my English. I spent some time in Dublin and then I started working in an artisan cheese production company as a product developer and cheesemaker where I was mostly working with Alpine style cheeses.

Q. What’s your role at Hampshire Cheese Company?

My role at Hampshire Cheese is Head Cheesemaker. I work alongside the other cheesemakers with guidance from Charlotte and Stacey.

Q. What have you and the team have achieved so far?

I’m very proud to be part of the team that makes Tunworth and Winslade. We continue to win many awards – Golds and Silvers for both Tunworth and Winslade in the World Cheese Awards, Artisan Cheese Awards and Great Taste Awards  building on a very successful year in 2022 when at British Cheese Awards Winslade won Best Soft Cheese, a Gold Medal, as well as ‘Best Cheese from a Member of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association’ among many other awards. We are all particularly proud of this last award.

Q. Tell us a little about working with Stacey!

It’s great working with Stacey, she is very open minded and encourages me to extend my knowledge.

Q. Tell us about the team and the atmosphere?

We are a small but great team. Everyone is kind and warm and we have a close relationship which makes every day working together easier and fun. We all strive to produce the best cheeses.

Q. What words would you use to describe yourself?

Focused, passionate and results oriented.

Q. How would others describe you?

Exuberant, knowledgeable, hardworking and a cheese & wine lover!

Q. How would you like to be perceived by others?

Peaceful, kind and a humanist.

Q. What are you passionate about?

Cheese! Cheese making is a world without any limitation and there is always more to learn.

Q. What talents and skills do you have?

I am quite courageous – I’m not afraid to go beyond my comfort zone to have new experiences and to learn new things.

Q. What do you personally bring to Hampshire Cheese Company?

I enjoy working hard and every day I want to make the best cheeses.

Q. What life lessons/experiences would you share that can let people know more about you?

I believe people should always challenge themselves, this is the best way to be successful, whatever success is for each individual.

Q. Are there any particular events you’re happy to share that have contributed to where you are today?

I think my strong work ethic and breadth of knowledge learnt from working in Turkey and especially in Ireland have been very important in bringing me to Hampshire Cheese Company.

Q. And when you’re not making cheese ….?

I like to listen to music and to travel. Travelling gives me the opportunity to experience and discover new cultures which I love.

Q. And finally, any anecdotes?

When I was teenager I dreamt of becoming a professional basketball player and I even played in the Galatasaray Junior Team, but my passion for agriculture, food and the environment drew me away and towards cheesemaking!

Hampshire Cheese Co